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Jackson estate settles copyright case
Michael Jackson with his mother Katherine Jackson. Picture: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File.

Michael Jackson's estate and a businessman working with the singer's mother settled a copyright infringement lawsuit for $US2.5 million ($A2.45 million) on Tuesday, shortly before a trial in the case was scheduled to begin.

The settlement also restricts Howard Mann and his companies from using Jackson's likeness without permission in the future. It ends a year and a half of legal fighting over Mann's use of Jackson's name and likeness on a website used to promote unreleased songs, photographs and a book written by Katherine Jackson filled with recollections of her superstar son.

Mann is the CEO of Vintage Pop Media, which operated the website www.michaeljacksonsecretvault.com until it was ordered shut down last month by a federal judge who ruled the site violated copyrights controlled by the singer's estate.

Under the terms of the settlement, announced in court by estate lawyer Zia Modabber, Vintage Pop Media Group is responsible for $US2 million of the judgment, while the entity Vintage Associates LLC is responsible for the remainder. Vintage Associates is the custodian of the items that were at issue in the case.

Mann's lawyer, Lee Durst, declined comment after the hearing. "The estate is delighted this matter is behind us," estate lawyer Howard Weitzman said.

Among the items that had been improperly used were images from Jackson's posthumously-released film This Is It and a silhouette of the singer dancing in Smooth Criminal. The settlement also blocks the usage of materials from Thriller that had appeared on Mann's website.

A jury trial on how much Mann owes the estate had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday, with an expert estimating a licence for the works is worth between $US5 million and $US12 million.

Mann's lawyers rejected a settlement offer last week of $US2 million. They sought to introduce evidence that they were given bad legal advice about having to licence the works and have considered calling Katherine Jackson as a witness. The Jackson family matriarch is one of the beneficiaries of the singer's estate, along with his three children.

US District Judge Dean D Pregerson has noted that Mann doesn't appear to have the resources to pay a large judgment. The defendant's ability to pay was not discussed in court on Tuesday.