Artist News Business News Labels & Publishers Legal Top Stories

Hole drop out of class action over Universal vault fire

By | Published on Tuesday 20 August 2019

Universal Music

Hole have dropped out of a class action lawsuit in which a number of artists accuse Universal Music Group of covering up the loss of their master recordings in a 2008 fire. The band have tentatively accepted that their masters were not actually destroyed in said blaze.

The $100 million lawsuit was launched in June, following a New York Times article that claimed that the music firm had hidden the extent of the damage caused by the 2008 fire at a warehouse owned by former sister company Universal Studios, where some of the major’s master recordings were stored.

Back in 2008, the label insisted that losses were minimal and that most masters had been moved away from the site prior to the fire. However, when Universal formally disputed many of the accusations contained in the recent NYT article, the newspaper then published a list of 800 possibly affected artists.

Hole were among the acts on that list, as were the other named defendants in the class action – Soundgarden and the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty. However, the band have now withdrawn from the litigation after the label insisted that none of their masters were lost. Universal in turn has accused lawyers working on the legal action of acting without first properly establishing the grounds for a case.

“Hole was dropped because UMG is adamant that no Hole master recordings were lost,” says Ed McPherson, one of those attorneys leading on the lawsuit. “We agreed to drop Hole from the suit pending confirmation of the non-loss”.

In a more stern statement of its own, Universal said: “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”, it went on.

“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”.

The lawsuit is demanding that UMG shares with affected artists half of the insurance payout and the damages it received from Universal Studios after the fire. None of that money was distributed to affected artists at the time, the vast majority of which weren’t told that their masters had been lost in the incident.