lawyers on parade!
By Todd Stadler · Thursday, December 12, 2002 3:49am
And no, I'm not talking about the hard-hitting journalism that is this week's J.Lo cover story.
(Though of course, I hope against hope along with the Parade editors and the rest of the civilized world that "the stars are smiling on" J.Lo and B.Af. Third time's a charm.)
No, I'm talking about Parade Magazine once again showing why it is "the class-action lawsuit advertisement paper of record".
For as I was flipping through all 28 ad-riddled pages in an attempt to find out what philosophical minutiae the world's "Highest IQ" was forced to waste her brain cells on this week, a headline in an advertisement caught my eye:
"If You Purchased Prerecorded Music on Compact Discs, Cassettes or Vinyl Albums from January 1, 1995 through December 22, 2000 Please Read This Legal Notice" (Man, I Love Title Case)
I mean, to whom does that not apply? There may be some caveman up in Alaska or something, but even he probably has some Dixie Chicks tapes or whatever, right?
The ad went on to talk about a lawsuit brought against a slew of major music companies for conspiring to keep prices for recorded music high.
Yes, instead of paying $18 or more for the new Garth Brooks CD, you could have paid a more reasonable $15 or something, had these companies not been so greedy.
Of course, you could have just waited a few months and paid $4 when you picked it up in the overstock bin at the used CD store, but hey. Your choice.
"Fine fine fine," you say, "but what's going to happen to the major record labels?"
Well, according to the settlement, no CD should ever cost more than $10, so for every CD you bought in the time period specified, they will refund you any amount over $10 that you paid, even if you don't have the receipts.
Additionally, the labels agreed to divest themselves of any businesses that may pose a conflict of interest such as radio stations and concert venues.
Furthermore, the major record labels must agree to stop any effort that hinders fair use, including manufacturing "copy-protected" CDs and prohibiting MP3 creation, as well as shutting down file-sharing entities. Upon request, they will e-mail you the MP3s for any album you own.
Finally, the music industry agreed to end its focus on one-hit "superstar" acts, acknowledging that acts with a more local focus and more artistic freedom tend to produce music that is superior.
Ha ha ha, you should have seen your face when you started reading through all that dreck! Of course it's all been a lie since you said "fine fine fine". Teach you to rush me through my story!
Anyhow, the real settlement to this suit involves splitting $67,375,000 between everyone in the class.
Oh, and $75,700,000 "worth" of CDs to be distributed according to population to every blessed state in the union.
I say "worth" because I can't find out who gets to define how much a CD is worth. Is it the $1 it costs to make? Ho ho. Or is it the $15 (on a nice day) that the music industry is being sued for setting in this self-same lawsuit? People are stupid, so I'm going with the latter.
That works out to be 5 million CDs or so, of which 4 million are probably Ace of Base and 4 Non Blondes, I figure. All going to non-profit agencies to, what, make art projects or drink coasters out of? I don't know.
"Wait," you say, but hopefully with a little more respect this time, "what about the $67 million in cash that everybody gets to split?"
Great, focus on the money, not the music. Just like the record companies. You're part of the problem, see?
Anyhow, all that cash gets split up among the people who file a form indicating that they agree to be part of the settlement.
But it's obvious the lawyers fighting "for us" (that is, those lawyers whose greedy tendencies do not favor the music industry) stink.
Because they, in their legal wisdom, decided that for all the CDs you've bought, resulting in hundreds of your dollars of paying for Justin Timberlake's ego addiction, you should get between $5 and $20. Once.
Here's the clever part. The more people you tell about this settlement, the less you will get paid. If more than 13,475,000 people file a claim (which would mean less than $5 a claimant), nobody gets paid, and some non-profit organization gets your cash. I assume that it will not be the adult contemporary division of Capitol Records, Inc.
So go ahead and file your claim and maybe you'll get a check that's big enough to buy 1/3 of a new CD sometime next year. And when you cash that check, step back for a moment to ponder how justice has been served, and the little guy has won. And by little guy, I mean Tommy Mottola.