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Business News (more headlines) 02-20-2004

Pennsylvania Attorney General Pappert Announces Release Of Refund Checks To 243,000 Pennsylvanians In Compact Disc Antitrust Case

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Website: http://www.musiccdsettlement.com

Attorney General Jerry Pappert today announced that during the next two weeks refund checks will be mailed to more than 243,000 Pennsylvanians who filed claims as part of a national antitrust settlement agreement negotiated by his office and attorneys general from around the country. Pennsylvania was second only to California in the number of consumers who filed claims for refunds.

Under the settlement, Pappert said, each consumer who filed a claim will receive $13.86 for a total of nearly $3.4 million. In addition, $2.6 million worth of music compact discs (CDs) will be available for distribution to Pennsylvania schools and libraries that expressed interest in participating. The CDs for the schools and libraries are expected to arrive this May.

Restitution checks will be distributed to approximately 3.5 million consumers across the country who purchased prerecorded music products including CDs, cassettes and vinyl albums from retailers between January 1, 1995 and December 22, 2000.

The states in a 2000 lawsuit claimed that during that time period, five music distributors and three large music retailers conspired to illegally raise the prices of certain prerecorded music products by implementing "minimum advertised price" policies in violation of state and federal laws.

"These illegal policies resulted in consumers paying higher prices for CDs and other products," Pappert said. "The alleged price-fixing scheme eliminated competition in the sale of certain artists' music to consumers. Our settlement permanently prohibits the defendants from engaging in anti-competitive activities in the future and gives something back to individual consumers or organizations that purchased these products."

Under the terms of the settlement the defendants admit no wrongdoing and agree to:
-- A permanent injunction preventing them from forcing retailers to increase CD prices ensuring competition in the marketplace.
-- Pay the states a total of $70 million for consumer restitution, public distributions and investigation or litigation costs.

Pappert said the refund checks will be mailed directly to consumers from the appointed Antitrust Litigation Administrator based in Faribault, Minnesota. The agreement was approved by U.S. District Court in Maine last June and the distribution of funds remained on hold pending the resolution of appeals. Additional information on the settlement is available online at www.musiccdsettlement.com.

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