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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Posthumous Michael Jackson Album Is a Fraud, Fan Says

LOS ANGELES (CN) - By representing that the King of Pop sang on three tracks on "Michael," the 2010 posthumous album of previously unreleased material, Sony Music Entertainment defrauded Michael Jackson fans, a woman claims in court.

In a class action complaint for violation of consumer laws, unfair competition and fraud, Vera Serova claims that she bought a CD of "Michael" in 2011, believing that Jackson had performed vocals on the tracks "Breaking News," "Monster" and "Keep Your Head Up." The songs are described in the complaint as the Cascio tracks, named for the family in whose basement studio Jackson is said to have recorded them. Serova questions, however, whether he actually performed on the tracks.

Sony Music Entertainment represented that Jackson performed on the tracks as did Edward Cascio and James Porte, both of whom allegedly co-authored the three songs with Jackson, according to the complaint. Serova also names MJJ Productions and Angelikson Productions as defendants, and John Branca, the co-executor of Jackson's estate.

"On November 5, 2010, Sony responded to the questions regarding the authenticity of the Cascio tracks by stating 'We have complete confidence in the results of our extensive research as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael that the vocals on the new album are his own,'" the June 12 lawsuit states.

Later that year, an attorney for Jackson's estate allegedly released a statement citing expert testimony of Jackson's producers, musical director, two forensic musicologists and others who claimed that Jackson sang on the three tracks.

But record producer Cory Rooney and Jackson's nephew Taryll Jackson have said that several of Jackson's producers and engineers agree that Jackson did not perform on the songs, according to the complaint.

Upon learning of the competing opinions, Serova says she hired audio expert Dr. George Papcun to analyze the tracks.

"After comprehensive assessment, Dr. Papcun prepared a report and concluded that it was very likely that Michael Jackson did not sing the lead vocals on the Cascio tracks. Counsel subsequently had Dr. Papcun's expert report peer reviewed by another well-credentialed independent audio expert who concluded that Dr. Papcun's methodologies and conclusions were reasonable," the complaint states.

Serova wants class certification for consumers who bought "Michael," or purchased the songs on iTunes or on a collection of Jackson's music released in 2013.

She seeks an injunction, attorneys' fees, restitution, punitive damages and costs.

Ray Gallo of San Rafael firm Gallo filed the lawsuit on her behalf.

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