Paul Anka will reportedly receive 50 percent of the publishing rights from the “new” Michael Jackson song “This Is It” after it was discovered that the track — which debuted online Monday at midnight — was in fact a song Jackson and Anka co-wrote in 1983. The Jackson estate worked quickly to rectify their error after being informed that “This Is It” was an early take of the song that was later recorded as “I Never Heard” by the singer Safire in 1991. Anka had threatened legal action, but TMZ reports he will instead receive publishing rights from the song, the centerpiece of the upcoming soundtrack to Jackson rehearsal documentary This Is It.
“They did the right thing,” Anka told the AP. “I don’t think that anybody tried to do the wrong thing — it was an honest mistake.” “This Is It” was reportedly found in a box of tapes as a demo featuring only Jackson’s voice and piano. Chairman of Columbia/Epic Records Rob Stringer admitted in an interview that it wasn’t until Jackson fans discussed the similarities between the two tracks that the company realized its error, New York Times reports.
After “This Is It” first debuted, Anka told the NYT, “It’s exactly the same song. They just changed the title.” “This Is It” or “I Never Heard” was originally slated to be a duet between Anka and Jackson for the crooner’s 1983 album Walk a Fine Line, but Anka told the Times Jackson absconded with the tapes; Anka now has the multi-track tapes and documentation that he co-wrote the track.
Even though matters have been settled between Anka and the Jackson estate, Safire’s manager Sal Abbatiello told EW that he’s contemplating filing a lawsuit on behalf of his client. “This is a terrible mistake,” Abbatiello told EW. “I’m pretty sure Paul Anka has a big case. I don’t know if Safire has any legal right as the artist. I’ll have to contact my lawyers. But, hopefully. They’re advertising this movie everywhere.”
• New Michael Jackson Song, “This Is It,” Premieres Online
• New Michael Jackson Soundtrack Single “This Is It” Out October 12th
• Video of Michael Jackson Singing “Human Nature” From “This Is It” Film Revealed