Hole Dropped From Universal Music Fire Lawsuit
Hole have been dropped as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against Universal Music Group in response to a bombshell New York Times Magazine report that the company lost an estimated 500,000 master recordings in a 2008 warehouse fire. Soundgarden, Steve Earle, and the respective estates for Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur—all artists whose masters were reportedly destroyed—remain as plaintiffs in an updated complaint filed Friday and reviewed by SPIN.
“This Amended Complaint does not include Hole as a plaintiff, solely based on UMG’s written assurances to Plaintiffs’ counsel that no Hole Master Recordings were lost in the Fire,” the amended complaint explains. “At present Plaintiffs are not aware of information contradicting those recent assurances regarding Hole.”
UMG publicly downplayed the fire’s destruction at the time and has denied in recent weeks that the damage was as extensive as described in the Times report, which cites internal research suggesting the company believed master recordings by over 700 artists were lost. Those internal documents reportedly named many of the 20th century’s most important musicians, ranging from Chuck Berry and Aretha Franklin to the Who and Nirvana. (You can view the full list here.)
“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,” a company spokesperson said today in a statement provided to SPIN. “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.”
The company declined to elaborate to Variety on which artists named in the lawsuit did not actually lose their masters. The magazine also reports that UMG has been reaching out to artists to inform them the state of their archives, based on new research by a dedicated 70-person team that was launched in response to the Times report. Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson has reportedly told his band members, “No masters of ours were lost, after all. But we do not know for sure yet.”
The class action lawsuit accuses UMG of negligence, reckless conduct, misrepresentation, and various contractual breaches. It claims the company owes affected artists a portion of any money that the company received in the fire’s aftermath from an insurance payout and a lawsuit against the warehouse’s landlord. UMG has filed a motion to dismiss the suit and a second motion to stay discovery in the case.