Judge dismisses Soundgarden's litigation in Universal fire lawsuit

Judge dismisses Soundgarden's litigation in Universal fire lawsuit

Yesterday (April 6), United States district judge John A. Kronstadt dismissed Soundgarden’s litigation in the lawsuit against Universal Music Group.

The class action lawsuit was originally filed in 2019 by Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle, plus Tom Whalley and Jane Petty (on behalf of the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, respectively). It pertained to the loss of master recordings incurred during UMG's 2008 archive fire in California – as outlined in the New York Times’ 2019 article The Day The Music Burned. The article claimed some 500,000 masters had been destroyed. 

In August 2019, Universal Music Group requested an urgent dismissal of the lawsuit. Following Hole’s withdrawal from the lawsuit, UMG provided evidence that three other acts – Steve Earle and the estates for Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty – did not lose masters in the blaze. The company said that affected recordings were either tape copies or secondary material. UMG attorney Scott Edelman filed papers refuting the claims of Soundgarden. In the documents, the major said that only 21 of 1,301 Soundgarden assets were affected and none of them were multi-track masters. It was able to reissue the Badmotorfinger album using a digital audio tape safety copy.

In a new official statement, UMG commented: “Judge Kronstadt’s decision fully dismisses the Soundgarden litigation and entirely rejects the only remaining plaintiff’s arguments. As we have said all along, the New York Times Magazine articles at the root of this litigation were stunning in their overstatement and inaccuracy. As always, we remain focused on partnering with artists to release the world’s greatest music.”

Four of the five plaintiffs have now dropped out, with only the Tom Petty estate remaining. 




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