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Hole Removed from Lawsuit Against Universal Music Over 2008 Fire

Althea Legaspi

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Hole has been removed from a class action lawsuit against Universal Music Group (UMG) over artists’ master tapes that were allegedly lost during a 2008 fire, Variety reports. On Friday, the suit was amended “based upon UMG’s representations that none of Hole’s masters were destroyed (subject to confirmation).”

Soundgarden, Steve Earle and the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur remain plaintiffs in the amended lawsuit, which accuses UMG of failing to disclose the extent of the damages in the fire and failing to “take reasonable measures to preserve and maintain” the masters. The suit followed a damning New York Times Magazine report in June, which revealed that allegedly more than 500,000 recordings spanning decades were destroyed and that UMG downplayed the extent of the loss to the press in the wake of the fire.

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UMG responded to the amended complaint on Monday, in which they also claimed that the original masters for “many of the artists named in the lawsuit were not lost in the 2008 fire.” The label also re-stated that its “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… We will not be distracted from our focus on providing our artists with full transparency even as the plaintiff’s attorneys continue to pursue these baseless claims.”

Following UMG’s response, one of the attorney’s involved in the suit, Ed McPherson released a statement to Variety, saying, “Well, isn’t it great! After 11 years of assuring artists that basically nothing was lost in the fire, UMG is actually conducting an investigation to what was lost in the fire.”

McPherson went on to criticize UMG for not creating an inventory of the masters they were storing earlier and not “enlist[ing] its dedicated global team 11 years ago” after the fire. He continued: “And as for UMG’s ‘full transparency,’ perhaps UMG should be asked (1) why is the majority of the court file in the NBC litigation redacted; (2) why don’t you give the Plaintiffs any unredacted documents including those showing how your loss was evaluated; and (3) why have you filed a motion to stay all discovery in the case until November 4?”

Last month, UMG filed a motion to have the class action lawsuit dismissed, claiming the company has full ownership over any master tapes that were allegedly lost to the fire and argued that the company has no obligation to split insurance and settlement proceeds with the artists. The artists’ suit seeks 50 percent of insurance claims and settlement proceeds valued at $150 million in addition to half of any additional losses.

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