Sony Music Denies Admitting That It Released Fake Michael Jackson Songs On 2010’s ‘Michael’
Over the past 48 hours, multiple outlets have reported that lawyers for Sony Music finally admitted—after nearly a decade of probing—that it released three fake Michael Jackson songs on the 2010 posthumous album Michael. While the authenticity of the recordings is still highly suspect, reports that Sony has conceded they’re fake appear to be untrue. In a statement to Variety, Zia Modabber of law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (which represents both Sony and the Jackson estate in the suit) denied admitting that the songs are forgeries.
“No one has conceded that Michael Jackson did not sing on the songs,” Modabber said. “The hearing Tuesday was about whether the First Amendment protects Sony Music and the Estate and there has been no ruling on the issue of whose voice is on the recordings.” Most media reports are linked to a court hearing on Tuesday, reported by the Twitter account A Truth Untold, which follows the case:
However, Bryan Freedman, who represents other defendants in the same case, explained to Variety that this is a standard part of the appeal process. “When you review the motion on appeal, you assume that everything in the complaint is true,” he said. “Any admission that was made was for purposes of that argument only.”
Sony is attempting to argue that marketing the album with the words “9 previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson” doesn’t constitute commercial speech. Even if the records are fake, Sony argues that the company is not liable because it didn’t know at the time and wasn’t trying to willfully mislead consumers. Journalist Damien Shields, who has been following the case for many years, further explained Sony’s argument in a 2017 report.
The songs in question, “Breaking News,” “Monster” featuring 50 Cent, and “Keep Your Head Up,” were all released by Sony on Michael in 2010. The label received them from Jackson’s longtime friend Eddie Cascio and his business associate James Porte, who claim they were among 10 songs recorded in Cascio’s New Jersey basement in 2007.
Over the years, doubts have emerged about the authenticity of the recordings from Jackson’s fans and family. Cascio and Porte have been unable to provide substantial evidence of the sessions, and some fans have pointed to singer Jason Malachi as the real performer. In 2014, Jackson fan Vera Servoa initiated a consumer lawsuit against Sony, as well as the Jackson Estate, Cascio, Porte.
Sony has maintained since 2010 that the recordings are really Jackson. Since at least 2016, however, it has attempted to argue that the authenticity of the recordings are irrelevant to its own liability in the case, as it attempts to avoid being subject to a potentially expensive class action lawsuit. As such, while it seems very possible that the recordings are forgeries, Sony has not actually admitted anything.