Music Notes

28 States Sue Record Companies Over CD Prices

Record companies and music retailers should pay back millions of dollars in illegal profits they collected by forcing discount stores to raise CD prices in 1995, attorneys general for 28 states alleged in a lawsuit. “These illegal actions certainly have not been music to the ears of the public,” New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said at a news conference on Aug. 8 as the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The music companies, including Minnetonka-based Musicland Inc., maintain that they threatened to stop supplying discount chains with thousands of advertising dollars in the mid-1990s because the chains were selling CDs at below wholesale cost, driving some record stores out of business. They indicated that they would contest the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes three months after the five major music distributors, while admitting no wrongdoing, settled Federal Trade Commission charges they unfairly inflated CD prices. Minnesota is not among the 28 states. Under that deal, the companies agreed to discontinue minimum advertised price programs that forced retailers to sell music CDs at or above a set level in return for getting substantial advertising funding.

Hendrix Family Wins Back Domain Name

The family of Seattle guitar legend Jimi Hendrix has won a battle in cyberspace, the rights to the Internet domain name jimihendrix.com. Experience Hendrix took its case against Denny Hammerton of Minneola, Fla., to the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, which ruled that Hammerton should hand over the Web address. Hendrix died in London in 1970. Experience Hendrix, headed by half-sister Janie L. Hendrix and based in Tukwila, Wash., was formed in 1995 and, according to the ruling, owns and administers “substantially all rights relating to Jimi Hendrix, including rights in his music, name, image and recordings.” The group’s official Web site is at www.jimi-hendrix.com.

Hammerton, whose site was registered in the name of The Jimi Hendrix Fan Club, said he obtained his domain name before the family registered its trademarks, but arbitrator Marylee Jenkins ruled that he was well aware of the trademark. She added that Hammerton had showed “a pattern of such conduct of registering and offering for sale domain names incorporating well-known names.” Experience Hendrix said Hammerton had previously offered to sell names including elvispresley.net, jethrotull.com, lindamccartney.com, mickjagger.com and paulmccartney.com.

AOL Removes Music Search Engine

America Online Inc. has pulled the plug on a search engine for digital music in the popular MP3 format, which the recording industry says has become a vehicle for piracy. “We don’t have an efficient process for distinguishing between legal and illegal MP3s, so we decided to take it down until we can address that,” said AOL spokesman Jim Whitney. The search engine was located on a site belonging to Nullsoft, an AOL subsidiary that created and distributes Winamp, a popular MP3 player program for Windows. The site did not store the MP3 files, but the search engine could point to other Web sites containing music files.

Judge Loves Martin

Lafayette, Ind. Judge Laura Zeman’s fascination for singer Ricky Martin is making her a celebrity, too. The judge’s unlikely hobby prompted music video network VH1 to dispatch a film crew to Lafayette this week to interview Zeman, her family and co-workers about her obsession Zeman, 43, caught her first Martin concert last Halloween. Since then, she has been to eight more, and her Martinmania still hasn’t subsided. Some people around the courthouse shook their heads when they saw the commotion the six-man film crew caused. But Zeman had some advice for people who think it’s inappropriate for a judge to be a music fan. “They need to get a life,” said Zeman. “Everybody has to have a hobby. What I do for fun is my business. It has nothing to do with my being a judge.”

Attica: No Dope Allowed

Officials at the Attica state prison in upstate New York have failed to respond to an offer by the metal band Dope to perform a free concert for its inmates. Singer Edsel Dope, who titled his band’s Flip/Epic debut album Felons and Revolutionaries, wants to use the proposed concert to draw attention to the plight of people across America doing time for victimless, non-violent drug convictions. Dope penned two letters to the prison; both have gone unanswered. Said the frontman, “I’ve watched this country spend millions of dollars each year to fight the war on drugs, while at the same time I’ve attended overcrowded schools and dealt with the lack of quality teachers. I’m pissed off for the thousands of people who are locked in cages in our so-called free society for victimless non-violent drug offenses... I hate that my tax dollars help finance these wrongdoings.”


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