Judge: Millions Of CD Buyers Owed Money
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A judge approved a settlement agreement Friday in a music antitrust lawsuit that will result in more than 3.5 million consumers receiving nearly $13 each.
Judge D. Brock Hornby issued a 51-page ruling in the case that began in 1996 when attorneys general across the country began investigating whether distributors and retailers had conspired to inflate CD prices.
"This settlement will put cash in the hands of millions of consumers and music CDs in libraries and schools throughout the country, and will ensure that the challenged distributor/retailer practices will not resume," Hornby wrote.
Details still to be decided.
The ruling, however, does not stipulate exactly how much consumers will receive or when the checks will be distributed. More than 3.5 million consumers filed claims, now estimated at $12.63 each.
Hornby asked lawyers to present him with a report by the end of the month on how much it will cost to distribute the checks and how much each check will be.
He also deferred ruling on a plan on how millions of CDs will be distributed to the schools and libraries.
The lawsuit, signed by the attorneys general of 43 states and territories and consolidated in Portland in October 2000, accused major record labels and large music retailers facing competition from discounters like Target and Wal-Mart of conspiring to set minimum music prices.
The defendants -- Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp., Universal Music Group and Bertelsmann Music Group, and retailers Tower Records, Musicland Stores and Transworld Entertainment -- deny any wrongdoing. Attorneys representing the companies declined to testify in court.