The estates of the late Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, along with attorneys representing Soundgarden, Hole and Steve Earle have filed a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group in regards to the destroyed master recordings from a 2008 warehouse fire. According to reports, the lawsuit is seeking “50% of any settlement proceeds and insurance payments received by UMG for the loss of the Master Recordings, and 50% of any remaining loss of value not compensated by such settlement proceeds and insurance payments.”
“UMG did not protect the Master Recordings that were entrusted to it,” the lawsuit read. Quoting statements from UMG’s website, it followed, “It did not take ‘all reasonable steps to make sure they are not damaged, abused, destroyed, wasted, lost or stolen,’ and it did not ‘speak up immediately [when it saw] abuse or misuse’ of assets. Instead, UMG stored the Master Recordings embodying Plaintiffs’ musical works in an inadequate, substandard storage warehouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios that was a known firetrap. The Master Recordings embodying Plaintiffs’ musical works stored in that warehouse were completely destroyed in a fire on June 1, 2008.”
The lawsuit also claims that the artists, not necessarily only their clients, were in the dark about their master recordings getting caught in the blaze. “UMG did not speak up immediately or even ever inform its recording artists that the Master Recordings embodying their musical works were destroyed. In fact, UMG concealed the loss with false public statements such as that ‘we only lost a small number of tapes and other material by obscure artists from the 1940s and 50s.’ To this day, UMG has failed to inform Plaintiffs that their Master Recordings were destroyed in the Fire.”
The 2008 fire occurred at a backlot UMG was renting from NBC, and while the incident itself was no secret, the extent of the damages were only revealed in a recent article from The New York Times. The blaze reportedly destroyed around half a million master recordings.
In other music news, Biggie Smalls’ “one-room shack” childhood home is looking for tenants.
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