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Soundgarden and Tupac estate drop out of Universal fire litigation

By | Published on Monday 16 March 2020


Two of the artists involved in the class action lawsuit over the 2008 fire at the Hollywood archive of Universal Music have bailed on the litigation. Though Soundgarden and the Tupac estate have retained the right to rejoin the class at a later date.

The litigation against the mega-major followed that report in the New York Times last year which alleged that many more master tapes were lost in the 2008 fire than previously admitted. The newspaper provided a long list of artists who might have lost assets in the blaze and claimed that most of those artists were unaware of the possible losses.

Universal has denied most of the allegations in the NTY report, claiming that while lots of assets were destroyed in the fire, most of the items lost were not master tapes. And where master tapes were destroyed, in most cases back-up recordings have been found at other storage facilities used by the record company.

However, lawyers representing various potentially affected artists have remained bullish as their lawsuit has gone through the motions. They mainly point out that when Universal was seeking an insurance pay-out and other compensation in the wake of the 2008 fire, the major claimed that the losses it had incurred were significant.

After a recent confirmation from the record company that nineteen artists definitely had lost actual recordings in the 2008 fire, those lawyers told reporters: “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 nineteen artists were affected. This discrepancy is inexplicable”.

Five artists were originally involved in the class action lawsuit: Hole, Soundgarden, Steve Earle and the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty. Hole dropped out last August. Meanwhile reps for Soundgarden and the Tupac estate last week told the court they were voluntarily dismissing their claims against the music company.

Earle and the Tom Petty estate remain as plaintiffs. Earlier this month both sides in the dispute urged the court to rule on Universal’s previous motion for dismissal.