California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has called on the state's supreme court to reject Sony's broad interpretation of the first amendment related to false advertising in the case 'Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment'. Sony had claimed that they were not responsible for the three fake tracks on the posthumous Michael Jackson album 'Michael' as they did not record them, however, Sony could now be held accountable along with the Estate of Michael Jackson and the Cascios.
PRESS RELEASE FROM CALIFORNIA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL:
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called on the California Supreme Court today to stop companies like Sony from evading false-advertising laws. In an amicus brief filed in the case Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment, Attorney General Becerra asked the state Supreme Court to reject Sony’s interpretation of the First Amendment related to false advertising. Sony’s overly broad interpretation of the First Amendment fails to protect consumers by enabling companies from a wide array of industries to make false or misleading claims about their products and then declare ignorance of the misrepresentation.
“Truth in advertising is rooted in the most basic contract between a seller and consumer. Products must deliver on their claims. If someone buys an album from a recording artist, they should expect that the songs on the album were made by that artist unless noted otherwise,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We must hold companies accountable to stand by their products. Companies have a First Amendment right to communicate, but their claims must be informed and accurate.”
Serova v. Sony Music Entertainment was filed in 2014 as a class-action suit against Sony by a Michael Jackson fan alleging that three songs on Michael, a posthumous Michael Jackson album, weren’t actually performed by the late entertainer. Sony and the Jackson estate dispute that allegation. But rather than giving the plaintiff her day in court, Sony moved to dismiss the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. Sony argues that it can’t be held liable because it didn’t record the tracks itself; rather, it purchased them from other producers and didn’t know whether or not the songs were actually performed by Jackson. Sony argues that even if Jackson didn’t sing the songs, purchasers who relied on that claim have no remedy under California false advertising laws.
Attorney General Becerra argues in the brief that Sony’s argument would have broad, absurd consequences. It would mean that sellers could escape false-advertising liability any time they resold goods produced or manufactured by another. The requirement could also enable companies to make false claims against their competitors without consequence.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting consumers against false advertising. In August 2020, he announced a