Report: Lawsuits Expected Over Lost Master Recordings From 2008 Universal Studios Fire
The news came as a shock to many this past week, when the New York Times issued an in-depth report revealing the overlooked effect of the 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood and how it resulted in the loss of many iconic master recordings. Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, lawsuits are about to follow.
As reported last week, an estimated 500,000 recordings were lost in the fire, featuring titles from some of the top names in music across a number of eras. However, back in 2008, the headlines focused more on the damage on the Universal Studios lot and some of the film facilities, while news on the storage facility for the audio recordings was mostly overlooked. But after the New York Times report, a number of artists revealed that they were just learning of the potential loss of their recordings.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, attorney Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano stated that they have many concerned clients and are preparing to file legal action as early as next week. “This has a potentially huge impact on their future, coupled with the rather disturbing fact that no one ever told them that their intellectual property may have been destroyed. There is a significant amount of discussion going on, and there will be formal action taken,” said King.
While declining to name which clients were following through with legal action, King did state that they had “more than 10 but fewer than 100 clients” who were prepared to move forward. When asked on Thursday about when something might happen, he explained, “We’re going to do something. My sense is it’s going to be next week.”
Universal Music Group took issue with the New York Times story, stating there were “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.”
They added in a statement, “Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record. 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.”
Ed McPherson, who heads McPherson LLP, also told the Los Angeles Times he has heard from numerous musicians concerned about the fate of their recordings. He said, “We are definitely exploring all options."
He went on to add, “It is inconceivable to me that the largest record label [group] in the world could be in this situation, with masters going back to the 1940s, which are irreplaceable, and they did not put them in a vault that’s fireproof or otherwise tamper-proof. It just blows my mind."
We'll keep you updated as this story develops.
Top 90 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1990s