Artists want compensation for the destruction of their recordings, but their case isn't simple.
On June 21, a putative class action lawsuit was filed against Universal Music Group on behalf of artists whose master recordings are believed to have been destroyed in a 2008 fire on the Universal Studios backlot where they were stored. The main issue: To whom did the masters belong?
That suit -- brought by law firms King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP, McPherson LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP representing Soundgarden; Hole; Steve Earle; Tom Petty's ex-wife, Jane Petty; and Tom Whalley (on behalf of the Afeni Shakur Trust, which oversees the estate of Tupac Shakur) -- seeks half of UMG's proceeds from a legal settlement and a reported insurance payment relating to the fire, plus half of whatever value they didn't cover. The case will come down to "good old American property rights," says an attorney who works for several legacy acts and estates that aren't part of the lawsuit. "As in, who owns the property?"