The Michael Jackson estate and Sony Music have been cleared in the lawsuit filed over allegedly faked vocals on the King of Pop's posthumously released album, Michael, but that doesn't mean anything has been confirmed as to the authenticity of the songs. In the class-action suit filed by Jackson fan Vera Serova against the aforementioned entities as well as the production company Angelikson Productions and songwriter/producers Edward Cascio and James Porte, Serova alleges Jackson isn't actually the one singing on "Breaking News," "Monster," and "Keep Your Head Up"; fans have long hypothesized MJ soundalike Jason Malachi is the real performer. On Tuesday, three appeals court judges essentially removed the estate and Sony from the suit, but the case against the other three entities is ongoing, Variety reports.
What exactly does that mean? Rolling Stone sums it up thusly: "It’s Not Sony’s Fault If It Sold Fake Michael Jackson Songs." The judges found that, "because [Sony Music, MJJ Productions and the Jackson estate] lacked actual knowledge of the identity of the lead singer ... they could only draw a conclusion about that issue from their own research and the available evidence. Under these circumstances, [Sony and the estate’s] representations about the identity of the singer amounted to a statement of opinion rather than fact" and thus were not strictly commercial speech and are outside the scope of the case. There were erroneous reports out of the proceedings last week that Sony admitted in court Jackson didn't sing the songs, but those were quickly shot down. Sony has, however, backed down from its initial insistence that Jackson was the lead performer, going so far as to say that it's possible he wasn't, but that Sony believed producers' claims that he was and thus should not be held responsible for any hypothetical fraud. (Read more Michael Jackson stories.)