Lawsuits Against Universal Music Group Expected Over 2008 Fire Destroying Original Recordings

A thick plume of smoke rises from a fire at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 1, 2008. The blaze destroyed several original master recordings held inside a storage facility, which were made by some of the biggest names in music. (Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

A thick plume of smoke rises from a fire at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 1, 2008. The blaze destroyed several original master recordings held inside a storage facility, which were made by some of the biggest names in music. (Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

A high-profile Los Angeles law firm representing multiple recording artists plans to file legal action as early as next week in response to news that a massive number of original master recordings were destroyed in a 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood.

“We have many very concerned clients,” attorney Howard King, partner in King Holmes Paterno & Soriano, said Thursday. “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.”

King declined to identify specific artists signed to the Universal Music Group whose master recordings may have been destroyed, according to a blockbuster investigation published Tuesday by the New York Times Magazine, but said that, as of Thursday, “more than 10 but fewer than 100 clients” would be seeking legal redress, noting the fast-moving response after the extent of the fire damage came to light.

The total number of master recordings lost in the fire could run as high as 500,000 recordings, the report said. Only a fraction of the original masters held in the facility were adequately copied, the story said, resulting in the loss of irreplaceable original masters by Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, the Eagles, Elton John, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Muddy Waters, Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Bing Crosby and dozens if not hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other recording artists.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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