- 07 Apr 20
A list of high-profile musicians sued the music corporation last year over the destruction of archived recordings.
A judge has dismissed last year's lawsuit against Universal Music, which compiled a lengthy list of A-list plaintiffs, over a warehouse fire in 2008 that ruined archived recordings.
The lawsuit was filed initially in response to a Times report about the 2008 fire by Soundgarden, Steve Earle, Hole, and the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty last year.
Most of the plaintiffs pulled out of the lawsuit. Hole dropped out due to the fact that UMG provided “written assurances to Plaintiffs’ counsel that no Hole master recordings were lost in the fire.” Soundgarden and Tupac’s estate pulled out last month. Jane Petty, Tom Petty's wife, was the only remaining plaintiff.
Judge Kronstadt argued that Tom Petty's former label MCA owned his masters, preventing Jane Petty from suing.
Universal Music Group has consistently dismissed the Times' initial report as meritless, and a lawyer for UMG has stated that the Times report and the plaintiff's lawyers are “irresponsibly conflating lost assets (everything from safeties and videos to artwork) with original album masters in a desperate attempt to inject substance into their meritless legal case.”
A representative from UMG has said: "Judge Kronstadt’s decision fully dismisses the Soundgarden litigation and entirely rejects the only remaining plaintiff’s arguments. As we have said all along, the New York Times Magazine articles at the root of this litigation were stunning in their overstatement and inaccuracy. As always, we remain focused on partnering with artists to release the world’s greatest music".
Responding, Howard King (a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs) said: “Universal claimed 17,000 artists were affected by the fire when they were suing for damages. Now that they face a lawsuit by their artists, they claim a mere 19 artists were affected. This discrepancy is inexplicable.”
Feature image credit to Gabriel Bouys/Agence-France Press – Getty Images