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Former Jackson family manager sues Sony

By | Published on Tuesday 25 June 2013

Michael Jackson

While the ongoing Jacksons v AEG court battle rumbles on in a small Los Angeles court room, new legal papers relating to the late king of pop’s work have been filed in the LA Superior Court. Because you wouldn’t want the American legal system to ever not be dealing with several Jackson-related lawsuits at any one time.

The latest lawsuit doesn’t involve the Jacksons or the Michael Jackson Estate directly, rather it’s against the singer’s long-time label partner Sony Music. Richard Arons, a former lawyer, claims that the major has failed to pay him the royalties he is due on Jackson’s early recordings for the record company as part of a deal relating to his time as co-manager of the Jackson family’s business affairs.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Arons says that he became attorney to the Jackson family way back in 1969, and three years later became co-manager for the Jackson brothers alongside their father Joe. It was during this time that The Jackson Five left Motown and signed with Epic Records, which ultimately became part of what is now Sony Music.

During his time co-managing the Jacksons, Arons’ lawsuit claims, he took 7.5% of all the brothers’ income, half of the 15% management fee. The management partnership with Joe Jackson ultimately broke down, but in a 1981 settlement it was agreed that he would continue to receive a 7.5% cut, but only of the Jackson brothers’ sound recording revenue, ie the artist cut of the revenue stream controlled by Epic Records.

And that cut is still due, seemingly, relating to the sound recording output of the Jackson brothers from the early 1970s up to Michael’s first two solo albums, ‘Off The Wall’ and ‘Thriller’. A brief dispute with Michael himself occurred in 1991, but, says Arons, a settlement was reached which reaffirmed his 7.5% cut.

Sony Music presumably has been paying that cut directly to the one time attorney and manager, but – says Arons – he isn’t getting all he is due, and Sony is failing in its duty to properly account to him. Tensions have seemingly been rising for a while, and have come to ahead after a Sony exec failed to deliver on a promise a year ago to review Arons’ claims.

The claimant wants the allegedly unpaid royalties, costs and damages – to the tune of $10 million – and new confirmation about his royalty rights. Sony Music is yet to comment.