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Widow of Tupac Shakur’s “All Eyez On Me” Producer Adds Fraud Claim to Song Royalties Lawsuit

Paul Sableman/Flickr Creative Commons

Capucine Jackson, the widow of Johnny Lee Jackson, a musician and producer who worked with Tupac Shakur on over 100 songs, including many of his best known hits, including "How Do U Want It," "All About You," "Hit 'Em Up" and "All Eyez On Me," has added a fraud claim to her existing lawsuit, which seeks royalties that she alleges Amaru Entertainment Inc., the company formed by the late rapper's mother, Afeni Shakur, is refusing to pay under a contract.

Jackson is now seeking punitive damages, as well as at least $500,000 in compensatory damages in her breach-of-contract against Amaru Entertainment Inc.

In an amended complaint brought Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, 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 was unable to discover on her own.

"[The] defendant intended to deceive [the] plaintiff by concealing the existence and contents of the SoundExchange royalty statements," the amended suit states.

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. It 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 died Sept. 13, 1996 at the age of 25, 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.

The lawsuit states that Johnny Jackson, a Juarez-born, South L.A.-raised musician known professionally as Johnny "J," signed a producer agreement with Amaru in May 2001 that dealt with all of the master recordings on which he had worked with the rapper, outlining his royalty rights. On the "All Eyez On Me" album alone, Jackson co-wrote and helped produce eleven tracks and "and was never paid the $100,000 advance or the per song royalties of 3% he was supposed to receive," according to a website detailing the various lawsuits filed against Tupac and his estate.

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 get, according to the suit.

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

"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," the suit says, also stating 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," according to the suit.

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