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Appeared on: Tuesday, January 21, 2003
CD lawsuit could earn you $20!

Suppose someone was handing out $20 bills and no one wanted one? That's what's happening in a massive price-fixing settlement paid for by the recording industry. The top five U.S. distributors of compact discs and three large music retailers have agreed to pay $44 million in refunds to settle a lawsuit that accused them of cheating consumers by illegally inflating prices.

The companies settled to avoid an expensive legal battle. Anyone who bought CDs between 1995 and 2000 is eligible for a refund of up to $20, even if you don't have a receipt to prove it.

"I want free money, but it seems like there would be a catch," said Jayla Fincher of San Jose. There is one catch. If more than 8.8 million people apply, the per-person share would drop below $5, and the customer refunds would be cancelled, because sending out so many small checks is too expensive. That seems unlikely, however, because only 30,000 people have filed claims in the last three months, leaving most of the money untouched.

Filing for a refund is simple. Just answer a few basic questions at www.musiccdsettlement.com and tell them where to send your check. I made $20 in less than three minutes. Most music buyers call that easy money.

"Twenty bucks?" said Susie Caustrita of San Jose. "It's another CD." There is a limit of one claim per person.


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