01:07 PM

Judge Gives Nod To Sony BMG Copy-Protection Deal

Buyers of specific Sony BMG music CDs could receive cash payments, additional album download privileges, or both.

A federal judge Friday gave preliminary approval to a deal that would settle several lawsuits filed against Sony BMG Music over flawed copy-protection programs.

The judge in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, set the wheels in motion for buyers of specific Sony BMG music CDs to add their names to the class-action lawsuits, and receive cash payments and/or additional album download privileges.

"The settlement helps consumers finally get music that will play on their computers without invading their privacy or eroding their security," said Corynne McSherry, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in a statement. The EFF is one of the participants in the lawsuits covered by the settlement. "Now that the court has given preliminary approval, the next step is to make sure that the millions of music fans who bought these XCP and MediaMax CDs understand what is available and how to get it."

The court ordered Sony BMG to begin placing notifications to potential participants of the settlement by Feb. 15; notices are required to appear in newspaper as well as online ads, including some posted on Google. The deadline for submitting a claim is May 1, 2006.

The EFF has posted an extensive FAQ on the settlement's details.

At the end of December, Sony BMG reached agreement with most of the parties that had taken it to court over charges that the music giant's copy-protection technologies installed software on users' PCs without permission, and left them open to attack. The one notable ongoing lawsuit was filed in November by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who cited his state's anti-spyware statues when he sued Sony

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