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UMG claims Tom Petty, Tupac and Steve Earle's master tapes weren't lost in 2008 fire

UMG claims Tom Petty, Tupac and Steve Earle's master tapes weren't lost in 2008 fire

Samir Hussein/Getty ImagesUniversal Music Group is claiming that three of the four artists named in a class action lawsuit against the music giant didn’t lose original master recording tapes in that devastating 2008 storage facility fire, according to court documents obtained by Billboard.

A declaration filed late Wednesday by UMG attorney Scott Edelman of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, claims that the masters for recordings by Tom Petty, Tupac Shakur and Americana singer/songwriter Steve Earle did not suffer irreparable damage in the fire, calling into question their standing in a class action lawsuit filed against UMG in June.

The suit’s original plaintiffs include the late Tom Petty’s ex-wife, Jane Petty, along with Soundgarden, Hole, Earle and Shakur’s estate. 

Hole was dropped as a plaintiff in the lawsuit on Friday after the ongoing investigation determined none of their masters were lost in the fire.  That investigation is still determining whether material by Soundgarden, the only remaining suit plaintiff, was also lost.

The suit alleges that UMG failed to disclose to the affected artists until a little more than a month ago that the 2008 fire had destroyed their master recordings. It also declares UMG received an insurance settlement of $150 million, which they failed to disclose or share with the affected artists, and accuses the music giant of failing to take necessary steps to prevent the fire in the first place.

The plaintiffs are asking for monetary damages of more than $100 million.

The alleged extent of the fire’s damage was revealed in multiple articles published in The New York Times Magazine in June. Among the hundreds of artists who reportedly lost their masters: Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, R.E.M., The Eagles, Aerosmith, Chuck Berry, The Police, Janet Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Eminem.

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