‘Private’ Michael Jackson Footage Triggers Lawsuit
By Lauren Duca
According to The Hollywood Reporter, unseen footage of Michael Jackson has triggered a lawsuit. The company behind “Michael Jackson: The Last Photo Shoot” is suing Jackson’s estate for rights to a 2007 video of what would be Jackson’s final interview.
The film’s director, Craig Williams, says the footage in question was taken by Ebony magazine at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for part of Jackson’s first magazine feature in over a decade. The production company claims it legally acquired rights after Jackson’s estate passed on purchase rights in 2011, but the estate asserts that Jackson counts as the author and that the shoot was considered “work for hire.”
“The makers of the documentary are attempting to exploit footage and photographs of Michael Jackson, which we believe are owned by his Estate,” Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Jackson estate, told THR. “The documentary contains footage of Michael during private moments that he never agreed could be publicly and commercially exploited without his consent and/or involvement. Michael never authorized or approved the use of this material in the film.”
This dispute comes on the heels of Jackson’s death anniversary (June 25). As the story of his final years unfolded, it became clear that the singer was struggling with lawsuits and debt.
Since his death, Jackson’s estate and likeness have similarly been surrounded by legal battles. In June alone there was a $10 million case over the hologram of Jackson seen at the Billboard Music Awards as well as a class action suit against Jackson’s record label, challenging the authenticity of his vocals on a recently released album.