Jury Rejects Claims of 2 That Michael Jackson Stole Songs
Entertainer Michael Jackson did not steal his hits “Thriller,” “The Girl Is Mine” and “We Are the World” from two songwriters, a federal jury ruled Wednesday after just over three hours of deliberations.
The seven-man, two-woman panel agreed with defense lawyers that the songs bore little resemblance to the works of the plaintiffs in the copyright infringement trial.
“The plaintiff’s case is just not based on evidence. It’s based on fantasy,” lawyer Robert Rothstein had said.
Reynaud Jones and Robert Smith, two childhood neighbors of the Jackson family in Gary, Ind., alleged that parts of their songs were pirated for the three Jackson hits. Jones asserted that the 1985 African famine relief anthem, “We Are the World,” was based on his 1977 song, “What Will Become of the Children.”
The suit contended that “We Are the World” co-writer Lionel Richie, “Thriller” songwriter Rod Temperton and record producer Quincy Jones also lifted part of the 1977 demo tape, which had been left with the Jackson family.
Jackson did not attend the three-week trial, but testified in a deposition videotaped in Mexico City Nov. 8 and 10 during his “Dangerous” tour. The last taping was a day before he quit his international tour, saying he was seeking treatment for drug addiction.
In the deposition, Jackson demonstrated his composing technique, although he appeared to be drugged as he stumbled over some words.
“He knows in his heart that he didn’t write those songs,” Jackson said of Jones.
Jackson returned to the United States Dec. 10 and was strip-searched as part of a criminal investigation into allegations that he molested a 13-year-old boy. No criminal charges have been filed against the singer.
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