Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Judge backs downloads as settlement in CD lawsuits

AP , NEW YORK

A US judge on Friday tentatively approved a proposed settlement of lawsuits against Sony BMG Music Entertainment that would give millions of consumers free music downloads to compensate them for flawed software on CDs.

US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald gave her approval after a hearing in which lawyers explained the deal that requires the world's second-largest music label to stop manufacturing compact discs software that can leave computers vulnerable to hackers.

The settlement pertained to lawsuits alleging that the vulnerabilities were created by MediaMax software or with extended copy protection or XCP software.

According to terms of the settlement, Sony BMG will let consumers who bought the CDs receive replacement discs without the anti-piracy technology and will let them choose one of two incentive packages.

The first package lets consumers who bought XCP CDs to obtain a cash payment of US$7.50 and a promotion code allowing them to download one additional album from a list of more than 200 titles.

The second package permits them to download three additional albums from the list. The court papers said Sony BMG would try to offer Apple Computer Inc's iTunes as one of the download services available to the consumers.

Those who purchased MediaMax CDs would receive additional compensation to allow them to download non-content protected versions of music on their MediaMax CDs and to download one additional album.

The company has said it has provided consumers with a one-click "uninstall" application that lets them remove MediaMax from their computers. MediaMax was loaded on 27 Sony BMG titles, including Alicia Keys' Unplugged and Cassidy's I'm a Hustla.

Lawyers have said as many as 20 million CDs containing MediaMax were sold.

The label recalled the discs with XCP in November and released a way to remove the files from users' computers. Some 4.7 million CDs on 52 Sony BMG titles had been made with the technology and 2.1 million had been sold.

Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp and Bertelsmann AG, has said it did not use the software programs to collect or retain personal data about the consumers without their consent.

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