Michael Jackson documentary goes legal over footage dispute

August 2014

Television, broadcasting

Another Michael Jackson project – another lawsuit. The production company making a new documentary about Michael Jackson is now facing a battle with the late king of pop’s Estate about who owns the footage that will form the core of the new film. The documentary, ‘Michael Jackson: The Last Photo Shoot’, focuses on what was probably Jackson’s last magazine photo shoot  which took place in 2007 (two years before he died) at the Brooklyn Museum Of Art for Ebony magazine, to accompany the Jackson’s first interview in a decade. The new film includes interviews with friends of the singer, as well as photographers and stylists who worked with him, and was set to include previously unseen video footage of the photo shoot as well as pictures taking during it.

The Michael Jackson Estate had been offered the footage but declined to purchase it. The director of the documentary Craig Williams then seemingly acquired the rights to the content. However the Estate assert that they must own the rights in the archive footage, based on the argument that Jackson paid for the shoot to happen, and that everyone involved was appointed on a ‘work for hire’ basis – so that any copyrights would be owned by the singer himself, and therefore now the Estate is the copyright owner in the footage in question.  Williams is now seeking confirmation in federal court in New York that he the owner. The Jackson Estate’s legal representative Howard Weitzman told The Hollywood Reporter: “The makers of the documentary are attempting to exploit footage and photographs of Michael Jackson, which we believe are owned by his Estate. The documentary contains footage of Michael during private moments that he never agreed could be publicly and commercially exploited without his consent and/or involvement. Michael never authorised or approved the use of this material in the film”.



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