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SOUNDGAREN, HOLE & More Sue Over Master Recordings Lost In 2008 Universal Studios Fire

Posted by on June 25, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Universal Studios suffered a fire in 2008 that reportedly only destroyed the park's King Kong attraction. Then a few weeks ago it came to light that about 500,000 song titles owned by Universal like ones from Guns N’ RosesMary J. BligeNo DoubtNine Inch Nails, and Snoop Dogg were also lost in the fire. This was a topic that Universal actively avoided at the time of the incident. The Los Angeles Times reported that lawsuits from artists were coming soon over the losses, and now the first wave is here.

According to Billboard, artists and representatives such as Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle, Tom Petty's ex-wife Jane and Tom Whalley representing the Afeni Shakur Trust that oversees Tupac Shakur’s estate, have filed a punitive class action lawsuit against Universal. Billboard states the lawsuit seeks 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. According to the lawsuit, UMG's litigation and insurance claims following the fire were reportedly valued at $150 million to recoup the value of the master recordings — none of which was directly shared with artists."

"UMG concealed its massive recovery from Plaintiffs, apparently hoping it could keep it all to itself by burying the truth in sealed court filings and a confidential settlement agreement. Most importantly, UMG did not share any of its recovery with Plaintiffs, the artists whose life works were destroyed in the Fire—even though, by the terms of their recording contracts, Plaintiffs are entitled to 50 percent of those proceeds and payments,” reads the complaint. According to the lawsuit, the litigation and insurance claims were valued at $150 million, none of which was directly shared with the artists.

The lawsuit goes on to allege “a systematic and fraudulent scheme of misrepresentation and misdirection” by the company to cover up the total loss, also revealing that the company had failed to inform the plaintiffs “that any master recordings embodying musical works owned by them were destroyed in the fire, and has refused to disclose or account plaintiffs the settlement proceeds and insurance payments received.”

Read Billboard's full report here. More lawsuits are expected soon, as previously stated by the Los Angeles Times.

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