SEATTLE -- Checks go in the mail tomorrow for millions of compact disc buyers who filed claims in a national antitrust price-fixing case.
Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced today that more than 213,000 Washington consumers who filed a claim in the lawsuit should within days receive their restitution checks for $13.86.
Payout is being made to music purchasers who filed a valid and timely claim this year either online at the settlement website, www.MusicCdSettlement.com, or by mail.
The payout brings to a close a lawsuit in which attorneys general accused distributors and music labels of engaging in a scheme to prevent some non-traditional music retailers, such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Target, from offering compact discs at deep discounts. The alleged illegal activity happened between January 1, 1995 and December 22, 2000.
The lawsuit specifically targeted "minimum advertising price," or MAP policies, in which distributors penalized retailers who offered discount-priced CDs. To enforce these policies, distributors withheld advertising reimbursements each time retailers sold CDs at reduced rates. As a result, the retailers were discouraged from offering discounts.
"Consumers have every right to shop for bargains in a competitive market," Attorney General Christine Gregoire said.
In addition to reimbursement for consumers, the settlement also will provide educational facilities and libraries at least $1.5 million worth of CDs. The CDs will be distributed this summer.
Named in the lawsuit were affiliated labels BMG Music, Bertelsmann Music Group Inc., Capitol Records, Inc., which does business as EMI Music Distribution; Virgin Records; Sony Music Entertainment Inc.; Universal Music & Video Distribution Corp.; Universal Music Group.; UMG Recordings Inc.; Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corp.; Warner Music Group Inc.; Warner Bros. Records Inc.; Atlantic Recording Corp.; Elektra Entertainment Group, Inc.; and Rhino Entertainment Co.
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, Plant Music, Record Town, Saturday Matinee, Spec's Music, Strawberries and the Wall.