Summary of Action

In 2014, a class-action lawsuit was filed in California state court against Sony Music Entertainment for allegedly misleadingly representing that all of the songs on the 2010 posthumous Michael Jackson album entitled Michael were sung by Jackson when, according to plaintiffs, three of the songs were sung by someone else. Sony responded by filing an anti-SLAPP motion to try to get the lawsuit thrown out, arguing that its free speech rights were being attacked. The California judge presiding over the case, however, allowed allegations concerning statements made on the album cover and in a promotional video to move forward.

Sony appealed the decision and, in 2018, a California appellate court determined that because Sony lacked “personal knowledge” of the songs’ origins, the statements it made on the album cover and in the video amounted to the music company’s opinion and not actionable commercial speech.

The controversial case then went to the Supreme Court in California for review, where joined other consumer advocates that include UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice, as well as Consumer Action, in an amici curiae brief filed on December 11, 2020 explaining, among other things, the significant consequences of allowing a sophisticated corporation like Sony Music to shield itself from liability for promotional statements made to consumers about one of its music albums.

The California Supreme Court will be hearing the case in 2021. Check back for updates.

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