Sony Music, Michael Jackson estate settle lawsuit over alleged vocal forgery

Three songs from Jackson's 2010 posthumous album, "Michael," were removed from streaming in June amid a lawsuit claiming the songs were not sung by Jackson.

Sony Music and Michael Jackson’s estate have reached a settlement with the plaintiff in a lawsuit involving claims about songs released on Jackson’s 2010 posthumous album, “Michael.” The lawsuit contended that Sony and Jackson’s estate broke California’s false advertising laws by including three songs on the album that were not sung by Jackson, according to Billboard.

Michael Jackson died in 2009. The album, “Michael,” was released a year later. (Photo: Mike Powell /Allsport)

Vera Serova, who initially sued in 2014, claimed that three of the album’s 10 songs — “Keep Your Head Up,” “Monster” featuring 50 Cent and “Breaking News,” the album’s first single — were sung by someone impersonating Jackson. She further claimed that Sony and Jackson’s estate had violated the California state consumer protection laws. Serova, a Jackson fan, according to published reports, complained that Sony and the estate released the songs falsely contending that Jackson sang the songs before his 2009 death.

The settlement, whose terms have not been disclosed, was reached Wednesday as the parties agreed to formally end the lawsuit. It is not clear whether the California Supreme Court will issue a ruling. The court heard arguments in May, according to Billboard.

“Regardless of how the Supreme Court may rule, the parties to the lawsuit mutually decided to end the litigation, which would have potentially included additional appeals and a lengthy trial court process,” Sony and the estate said in a joint statement.

In June, the three songs were removed from all streaming services and made unavailable for digital purchase.

A representative of Jackson’s online team confirmed that Sony removed the songs, saying in June that “continuing conversation about the tracks is distracting the fan community and casual Michael Jackson listeners from focusing their attention where it should be — on Michael’s legendary and deep music catalog.”

Members of Jackson’s family, including his mother, Katherine, older sister, LaToya, and nephew Taj, all disclosed their beliefs that the songs were not sung by Jackson prior to the 2010 release of “Michael.”

Sony and Jackson’s estate reiterated on Wednesday that removing the songs was “the simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all.”

Serova termed the case “amicably resolved,” declining further comment, Billboard reported.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!