Thursday, July 29, 2004

$143M settlement nets Ricky Martin, other CDs



By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

[photo]
Carrie Herrmann of Boone County Public Libraries holds the six Ricky Martin CDs the library received as part of a settlement between 43 state governments and the music industry.
The Enquirer/PATRICK REDDY
Maybe they should've sent out multiple copies of William Hung's compact disc instead.

Although the American Idol reject has yet to pass sales figures posted by Ricky Martin, the engineering student-turned-novelty performer notched a Top 40 hit this spring with his tone-deaf version of the Puerto Rican heartthrob's single, "She Bangs."

Martin, however, has seen his star slip, but that didn't stop record labels from shipping out six free copies of his last popular release, 2000's Sound Loaded, to some Northern Kentucky libraries.

The donations are part of a $143 million settlement reached between 43 state governments and the world's largest music distributors, charged with conspiring to inflate CD prices.

Five record companies and three music retailers agreed in 2002 to distribute 5.5 million CDs, valued at $75.7 million, to public entities and nonprofit organizations.

Libraries in Kentucky, Indiana and Washington got the first shipments last month.

A spokeswoman from the Ohio attorney general's office said Wednesday that more than 165,000 CDs were shipped to libraries in that state last week.

Also as part of the agreement, 3.5 million customers who bought CDs between 1995 and 2000 could register last year to receive $12.60 refund checks.

Boone County libraries also received five copies of a 2001 release by rock band Everclear.

And they received six copies of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.

"Keep in mind we only have four branches," said Lucinda Brown, director of Boone County Public Libraries.

Campbell County Public Libraries director J.C. Morgan said he was caught off guard when about 600 CDs arrived last month, because he didn't know the Kentucky attorney general's office had filed applications for libraries.

The shipments contained some gems, Morgan said, including recordings of George Gershwin songs and recent releases by Lenny Kravitz and Celine Dion, but many titles were duplicated or of limited interest, such as Halloween and Christmas CDs.

"Certainly, Christmas stuff is useful, but only one time a year," Morgan said. "One person checks it out for three weeks, and then Christmas is over," he said.

Both Morgan and Brown estimate that only about half of the CDs would be placed into circulation, and neither branch has rushed to process its windfall.

Although many of the free CDs received by Campbell and Boone county libraries will end up on the book-sale cart, a librarian at Kenton County Libraries feels as if she hit the jackpot when three boxes of CDs arrived last month.

"We got a nice selection - everything from jazz to classical to seasonal," said Jane Pfarner, collection development librarian.

Pfarner said few of the 171 CDs she received are duplicates.

While none of the titles are current hits, most eventually will be circulated, she said.

Morgan said Kenton County's experience is unusual, based on discussions he's seen on a library directors' statewide Internet message board.

"People are pretty unhappy," Morgan said. "They felt like they got the junk (record companies) couldn't get rid of."

"Some record stores had obviously dealt with them and sent them back, and now they're ours," he said.




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