June 10, 2004
Director, Communications & Public Information
Attorney General Reilly Announces Arrival of 124,000 CDs
Deputy Press Secretary, Attorney General's Office
BOSTON - Attorney General Tom Reilly and Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Director Robert C. Maier were at the Worcester Public Library and the Talking Book Library at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown on Wednesday and Thursday, June 9 and 10, to announce the arrival of 124,000 new music compact discs (CDs) to libraries across the state. These two locations are among the hundreds of public libraries in the Commonwealth to receive new CDs this week as a result of a multi-million dollar antitrust settlement with the music industry.
"I am pleased to be able to make this contribution to both the Worcester Public Library and the Talking Book Library, and hope that these CDs will be played and enjoyed by those who visit and use these libraries," AG Reilly said. "Libraries are a tremendous resource to us all and they are facing real challenges in this difficult economy."
"Choosing public libraries to be the recipients of the music CDs was a good decision because public libraries serve the entire population of a city or town," said Penelope B. Johnson, head librarian at the Worcester Public Library. "It costs nothing to have a library card, yet with it the entire resources of the library are available to you. In these times of tight budgets, the addition of these CDs is welcomed by librarians and by library users, and we thank Attorney General Tom Reilly for his efforts in bringing about this settlement."
Approximately 124,000 CDs are being shipped this week to libraries across the Commonwealth as part of the national settlement reached by 38 states, including Massachusetts, and three territories. The multi-state lawsuit alleged a complex conspiracy to prevent non-traditional music retailers, like Best Buy, Circuit City and Target, from selling CDs to consumers at discounted prices. The Attorneys General alleged that to stem the tide of price competition, traditional retailers pressured the defendant music distributors to impose minimum advertised price policies - which prevented discounters from advertising CDs for sale at prices below set levels. As a result, CD prices nationwide began to rise, causing consumers to pay more for music CDs than they otherwise would have.
The antitrust lawsuit alleged that five music distributors (including their affiliated labels) and three large music retailers entered into illegal conspiracies to raise the prices of prerecorded music to consumers. Named in the lawsuit were music distributors Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc., EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., Universal Music Group, and national retail chains Transworld Entertainment Corporation, Tower Records, and Musicland Stores Corporation. While the defendants denied these allegations, in September 2002 they entered into an agreement settling the case by providing a combination of consumer cash refunds and CDs totaling approximately $142 million.
AG Reilly chose to distribute the CDs to public libraries across the state because they are electronically connected to each other, as well as to libraries in schools and colleges. As a result, these CDs will be widely available to all Massachusetts residents. This plan of distribution was devised by AG Reilly's Office with the MBLC. "These CDs are really a shot in the arm for our libraries during times of a recession," said MBLC Director Maier. "Libraries are used more during fiscally hard times, and last year more visits were made to public libraries than ever before."
In February approximately 68,000 Massachusetts consumers received checks for $13.86, totaling $952,847.28, as a result of the lawsuit. Nationally, the settlement returned $67 million to more than 3.5 consumers and is providing close to 5 million CDs to the participating states.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.