The original report detailing the 2008 fire at Universal Studios that ruined some of the “most historically significant material owned by UMG,” according to The New York Times, has rocked the music industry for weeks now. In a developing update, it looks like estates and attorneys for many artists under Universal Music Group, one in particular being the estate of late rap legend Tupac Shakur, are suing for damages to master recordings that were forever ruined on what the Times calls “The Day the Music Burned.”
Filing along with the reps for 2Pac include the estates of Tom Petty, Soundgarden, Hole and Steve Earle, with the lawsuit seeking “50% of any settlement proceeds and insurance payments received by UMG for the loss of the Master Recordings, and 50% of any remaining loss of value not compensated by such settlement proceeds and insurance payments” according to information obtained by Variety.
Take a look at a more detailed explanation of what the lawsuit is claiming to be negligence on the belalf of UMG, via Variety:
“UMG did not protect the Master Recordings that were entrusted to it,” the lawsuit reads. “It did not take ‘all reasonable steps to make sure they are not damaged, abused, destroyed, wasted, lost or stolen,’ and it did not ‘speak up immediately [when it saw] abuse or misuse’ of assets,” it continues, quoting statements from the company’s website. “Instead, UMG stored the Master Recordings embodying Plaintiffs’ musical works in an inadequate, substandard storage warehouse located on the backlot of Universal Studios that was a known firetrap. The Master Recordings embodying Plaintiffs’ musical works stored in that warehouse were completely destroyed in a fire on June 1, 2008.
“UMG did not speak up immediately or even ever inform its recording artists that the Master Recordings embodying their musical works were destroyed. In fact, UMG concealed the loss with false public statements such as that ‘we only lost a small number of tapes and other material by obscure artists from the 1940s and 50s.’ To this day, UMG has failed to inform Plaintiffs that their Master Recordings were destroyed in the Fire.”
The number of destroyed master recordings is said to clock in at around half a million, which includes works from artists like Chuck Berry — his Chess masters and multitrack masters that include work with Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Etta James and others were all destroyed — Aretha Franklin’s first commercially-released material, all of Buddy Holly’s masters and singles/albums by Eric B. and Rakim, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson and other contemporary artists have all been affected. While we definitely applauded UMG not too long ago for plans to remaster old music videos, we really hope they can find a way to make this situation right.
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