Jackson Files Suit Over Royalties

Michael Jackson plans to show Universal Music Group the ABC’s of litigation.

The pop superstar, whose recent albums have fared poorly on the charts, accused the world’s biggest record company of failing to pay royalties on songs he recorded as a youngster, in violation of an earlier settlement.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Jackson claimed Universal improperly sold or licensed music he and the Jackson Five recorded in the early 1970s for Motown Records, which the Vivendi Universal music unit now owns. The suit seeks unspecified damages, an accounting of owed royalties, and ownership of the Jacksons’ Motown master recordings.

Jackson and Motown had waged a legal war over a contract dispute that began in 1975. Under a settlement, Jackson agreed to forgo any royalties owed on albums released to that point. But Motown was to pay royalties for future sales of unreleased material or “best of” compilations, according to the suit.


Jackson said the company exploited recordings in breach of the settlement and used early recordings and the Jackson Five name without his consent.

-- Jeff Leeds