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Home / Johnny Lee Jackson

Judge pares royalties suit of widow of late Tupac Shakur producer

A judge has pared a lawsuit filed by the widow of a musician and producer who worked with Tupac Shakur, in which the plaintiff seeks royalties she alleges the company formed by the late rapper’s mother has wrongfully refused to pay despite an agreement.

Capucine Jackson, the widow of Johnny Lee Jackson, is seeking at least $500,000 in compensatory damages in her breach-of-contract action against Amaru Entertainment Inc.

On Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce Iwasaki dismissed the plaintiff’s claims for specific performance and injunctive relief. The judge also found that she will have to shore up her other three causes of action for breach of contract, fraud and declaratory relief. Iwasaki gave Capucine Jackson’s lawyers 20 days to file an amended complaint.

The plaintiff alleges Amaru Entertainment intentionally failed to disclose certain facts in the SoundExchange royalty statements that only Amaru knew about and that the plaintiff could not have found out about on her own.

SoundExchange is a nonprofit performing rights organization formed in 2003 that collects digital performance royalties from digital radio companies when they license and use master recordings, then distributes the royalties to artists and copyright owners who obtain letters of direction from the featured artists or their representatives.

Amaru Entertainment attorneys argue in their court papers that Capucine Jackson is not entitled to a share of Amaru’s SoundExchange royalties, in part because her claims are barred by the four-year statute of limitations that began running when SoundExchange was established.

Shakur, then 25, died Sept. 13, 1996, six days after being shot in a drive-by incident in Las Vegas. Amaru Entertainment was founded in 1997 by the singer’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who herself died in 2016 at age 69.

Johnny Jackson, also known as Johnny J, worked with Shakur on many of his well-known recordings, including “How Do U Want It,” “Hit ‘Em Up” and “All Eyez On Me,” the suit states. He signed a producer agreement with Amaru in May 2001 that dealt with all the master recordings on which he worked with the rapper and outlined his royalty rights, the suit states.

After Johnny Jackson died in October 2008, Capucine Jackson reached out to performing rights organizations to confirm that she was listed as a beneficiary of her husband’s royalty rights and that she was receiving everything she was entitled to, the suit states.

In 2019, Capucine Jackson completed all the required steps to receive all monies from SoundExchange after learning of the possibility of collecting royalties from the company, according to the suit.

“However, SoundExchange is the only platform that has withheld royalties owed to plaintiff, and that is completely due to the bad faith conduct of Amaru,” according to the suit, which states that both Amaru and Capucine Jackson are entitled to a percentage of royalties from Shakur’s work through SoundExchange.

Capucine Jackson’s former attorney reached out to Amaru in June 2020, but Amaru “kept telling plaintiff’s attorney that they were looking into it and continued to ignore her requests for a letter of direction,” the suit alleges.

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