To backtrack, a New York Times report revealed that masters by Universal artists throughout the decades were lost, which limits the possibilities for high-quality reproductions in the future.
At the time of the fire, most of the coverage focused on the burned King Kong theme park attraction and video content, dismissing the lost music.
The initial report suggests that the company did not disclose the damages. This was out of fear that artists and estates whose masters were destroyed would sue. Then, many of the artists affected came forward to do exactly that.
The suit is reportedly seeking class-action status and marks the first legal case brought against UMG following the report. The plaintiffs allege that Universal breached their contractual obligations to protect artist’s masters. The suit further asserts UMG should’ve shared settlement funds including an insurance payout and legal settlement from NBCUniversal.
The Times claimed the artists are seeking over $100 million in damages.
Alt-rock band Hole revealed to Pitchfork that they were never told by Universal that their tapes were destroyed. A rep told the outlet at the time they were “not aware until this morning.”
However, now Hole has dropped from the lawsuit. This was after being told by UMG that none of their masters were lost. This was “solely based on UMG’s written assurances to Plaintiffs’ counsel that no Hole master recordings were lost in the fire,” according to an amended complained, Variety reports.
The complaint continues: “At present Plaintiffs are not aware of information contradicting those recent assurances regarding Hole.”
Four artists remain in the lawsuit: Soundgarden, Steve Earle, and the estates of Tomy Petty and Tupac.
Last month, Universal admitted that the fire probably destroyed at least 22 “original masters”. The company did so while preparing legal maneuvers for the lawsuit at hand.
Now, after further research, UMG put out a full statement about the lawsuit. That was after discovering many masters’ tapes were not actually lost. Read that statement below.
“Over a month ago, without even knowing if the 2008 fire on the NBC/Universal Studios lot affected their clients, plaintiffs’ attorneys rushed to pursue meritless legal claims. UMG’s dedicated global team is actively working directly with our artists and their representatives to provide accurate information concerning the assets we have and what might have been lost in the fire.”
“Even though our work is not yet complete, we have already determined that original masters for many of the artists named in the lawsuit were not lost in the 2008 fire. We will not be distracted from our focus on providing our artists with full transparency even as the plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to pursue these baseless claims.”
What do you think of Hole dropping from the suit against Universal Music Group? Sound off in the comments down below!