Several artists have filed a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group over allegations that it failed to report the full extent of damage caused by a 2008 warehouse fire.
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A host of master recordings from acts including Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Aretha Franklin, Beck, The Roots, and more were ruined in a blaze at Universal Studios in Hollywood, but were not reported until earlier this month.
The blaze raged through the film lot for almost 24 hours on June 1 2008, destroying sets including one from Back To The Future. As the fire continued, it hit the huge Building 6197 warehouse, which was home to Universal Music Group’s master recordings.
Now, several artists whose music was ruined in the fire are taking legal action against the record label giant. Soundgarden, Hole and Steve Earle, as well as the estates of 2Pac and Tom Petty are the plaintiffs of a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in Federal District Court this week. The suit seeks class-action status and is seeking upwards of $100 million in damages.
The suit accuses Universal of “breaching its contracts with artists by failing to properly protect the tapes,” and says “Universal had a duty to share any income received as settlements from the fire, including an insurance payment,” according to The New York Times.
Universal says that there are “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets,” in initial reports about the fire.
“Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record,” UMG said in a statement.“While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBCUniversal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident – while deeply unfortunate – never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists’ compensation.”
Dennis Dennehy, a spokesperson for Eminem, has since explained that while the master tapes could have been destroyed in the fire, the recordings may not have been lost entirely. “I’m fairly confident that most, if not all, of the masters are backed up,” he said.