Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jun 7 2004

OLYMPIA -- Thousands of compact discs worth more than $1.5 million are rolling into Washington schools and libraries this week as a result of a national antitrust settlement.

Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire said more than 72,800 of the CDs will be distributed to K-12 schools for use by students. Ninety Washington libraries will receive more than 40,000 CDs.

The CDs are being distributed as part of a settlement of a lawsuit Gregoire and other Attorneys General filed against several music distributors and music labels for price-fixing. The lawsuit contended that non-traditional music retailers, such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Target, were discouraged from selling cheaper CDs because distributors withheld advertising reimbursements. The alleged illegal activity happened January 1, 1995 through December 22, 2000.

"Washington consumers deserve fair, competitive pricing," Gregoire said. "This settlement is intended to help hold down CD prices, reimburse consumers and recover illegal profits through the distribution of free music to the public."

The CDs being distributed in Washington reflect a wide range of music, from classical to rock, Latin and more. Titles include an array of artists: traditional (Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra), country (Willie Nelson, Charlie Rich) jazz (Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis), rock (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) and new age (Northern Lights, George Winston) to name a few.

"The availability of thousands of CDs to children and adults will ensure our community's creative development through timeless music history," said Gregoire.

Thirty-four community colleges, six four-year colleges and two tribal colleges will also receive CDs. None of the CDs distributed in Washington will contain adult content.

Under another portion of the settlement, checks for $13.86 were mailed in February to 213,000 Washington consumers who filed a claim in the class action lawsuit.

Forty-three states and three territories participated in the settlement.
It is estimated the consumer restitution and CD distribution will cost the companies more than $143 million. ($76 million in CDs and $67 million in cash settlement checks.)

Named in the lawsuit were 15 affiliated labels, including BMG Music, EMI Music, Sony, Warner Music Group and Atlantic Recording Corp, among others.

Retail outlets named in the lawsuit were MTS Inc., which does business as Tower Records; Musicland, which operates more than 1, 300 retail outlets under the Musicland and Sam Goody trade names; and Trans World, which operates more than 900 stores under the names Camelot, FYE, Music & Movies, Planet Music, Record Town, Saturday Matinee, Spec's Music, Strawberries and the Wall.

A list showing the number of CDs distributed to communities statewide can be viewed by clicking here.