Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Compact Discs and Collusion
If you haven't jumped in on the proposed settlement of lawsuits brought by the attorneys general of 43 states, commonwealths, and territories, and by counsel for the plaintiff settlement class entitled In re: Compact Disc Minimum Advertised Price Antitrust Litigation, the clock is ticking.

From the Music CD Settlement Web page: "The lawsuits, which are currently pending in the United States District Court for the district of Maine, relate to the retail pricing of prerecorded music compact discs, cassettes or vinyl albums. Plaintiffs allege that the defendants conspired to illegally raise the prices of prerecorded music products by implementing minimum advertised price policies in violation of state and federal laws. All defendants deny all claims of wrongdoing asserted by the plaintiffs.

"The distributor defendants are: Capitol Records, Inc. d/b/a EMI Music Distribution, Virgin Records America, Inc., and Priority Records LLC; Time Warner, Inc., Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., WEA, Inc., Warner Music Group, Inc., Warner Bros. Records, Inc., Atlantic Recording Corporation, Elektra Entertainment Group, Inc., and Rhino Entertainment Company; Universal Music & Video Distribution Corporation, Universal Music Group, Inc., and UMG Recordings, Inc.; Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc. and BMG Music; and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. The Retailer Defendants are: MTS, Inc. d/b/a Tower Records, Musicland Stores Corp., and Trans World Entertainment Corp."

Basically, if you bought a CD, tape, or record between Jan. 1, 1995, and Dec. 22, 2000, you're a potential member of the settlement group. If the proposed settlement goes through, people involved could receive up to $20 from the defendants. If the settlement group is so large that each participant would receive less than $5, the money allotted will be donated to various charities and nonprofits. You must file your claim by March 3, and there will be a hearing May 22 to determine whether the settlement is fair.

Price fixing is a serious offense. CD's cost too much as things are, especially with so little of the retail price making its way back to musicians. It takes about a minute to fill out the online claim form, and if you're an active music buyer -- and are upset by the possibility of this criminal commercial collusion -- join the settlement group. $20 isn't much, but it's a start.

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