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Legal dispute between Sony, singer Michael appears settled

British singer George Michael has agreed to a deal with film director Steven Spielberg's new entertainment group that will end his long-running dispute with Sony Corp., the Sunday Times newspaper said.

The multimillion-dollar deal with Virgin and Dreamworks SKG, the group set up by Spielberg and ex-Disney boss Jeffrey Katzenberg and music mogul David Geffen, will allow him to release his first record in more than five years.

"It is the first big signing for the embryonic conglomerate, founded with the fortunes of three of the industry's most charismatic figures," the newspaper said.

"They will pay Sony about 10-million pounds ($16-million) to buy the star," it added.

The Japanese entertainment and electronics groups has been involved in an acrimonious dispute with Michael, who is one of the world's top-selling pop stars.

The singer took Sony to court to sever his six-year contract, but he lost the legal battle when Britain's High Court ruled that the agreement was legal and binding.

Dreamworks SKG, which bought the rights to Michael's work, combines many entertainment properties.

The powerful Hollywood start-up this month signed for its future entertainment characters to appear in Universal theme parks, including Universal Studios Florida. The company has also signed early agreements with Microsoft Corp. and its leader, Bill Gates.

Michael's albums include Faith and Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. I.

He began his career working with Andrew Ridgely in Wham! The group's hit singles include Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper and Freedom.

Since his dispute with Sony began, Michael's hits have been cover versions of other songs, such as Elton John's Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Queen's Somebody to Love.

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