Artists Are Suing Universal Over Recordings Lost In The 2008 Fire

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Earlier this month, The New York Times published an investigation into the massive loss of music history that resulted from a 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood. Master recordings from many of Universal’s most renowned musicians — everyone from Tupac and The Eagles to Elton John and 50 Cent — were lost in the fire, meaning the possibilities for high-quality re-masters based on the old recordings are limited.

In a follow-up report, The New York Times is now reporting that Hole, Soundgarden, and Steve Earle, along with the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, are suing UMG for losses. According to documents obtained by The New York Times (and as previously reported), these artists were not aware of the extent of the losses to their catalog.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles in Federal District Court, reportedly seeks class-action status. The Times reports that the members of the group seek over $100 million in damages. The plaintiffs allege that Universal breached its contractual obligations by failing to protect the masters, and by failing to share funds received as settlements from the fire with the artists whose property was damaged. In a 2009 legal action against NBC over the fire, UMG reportedly valued its losses from the fire at $150 million.