Artists File $100 Million Suit Against Universal Music Over 2008 Fire

Tupac Shakur Estate, Tom Petty Estate, Soundgarden & More Suing UMG Over 2008 Fire

Tupac Shakur Estate, Tom Petty Estate, Soundgarden & More Suing UMG Over 2008 Fire

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Universal Music Group (UMG) by attorneys representing Tupac's estate, Hole, Soundgarden, Steve Earle, and Tom Petty's estate. They are seeking to recover half of any settlement proceeds and insurance payments received by UMG and half of any remaining loss of value not compensated by such settlement proceeds and insurance payments. UMG sued NBC in 2009, valuing its losses at $150 million, and the new class-action suit claims it was successful.

The lawsuit alleged that the label "did not protect the Master Recordings that were entrusted to it" and "did not take 'all reasonable steps to make sure they are not damaged, abused, destroyed, wasted, lost or stolen.'" UMG also did not "speak up immediately" over "abuse or misuse of assets", the paperwork claimed, further arguing that the warehouse was "inadequate, substandard" and "a known firetrap". Also lost were nearly all of Buddy Holly's masters, plus classic and/or early recordings from Etta James, Billie Holiday, Louie Armstrong, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Al Green, Ray Charles, Elton John, B.B. They, the Universal Music Group, nonetheless expressed a need to maintain a code of transparency with respect to the artists under their banner (archival).

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The bombshell New York Times Magazine article published last week about the devastating Universal Studios Hollywood fire 11 years ago has reportedly sparked a lawsuit. For more information about the fire itself, head over to the New York Times.

The lawsuit goes on to describe a "systematic and fraudulent scheme of misrepresentation and misdirection" by UMG to coverup the lost masters, citing press accounts at the time based on statements by company spokespersons dramatically downplaying the fire's damage. The company also cited its recent history of releasing high-quality reissues of numerous albums claimed to have been destroyed, adding, "Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record".

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