You've Got Class (action, that is)

If you’ve ever, even once, purchased a pre-recorded Music product from a retail outlet in the years from 1995-2000, well surprise surprise, you’ve been screwed. However slightly.

Apparently the major music retailers got caught price-fixing, they’ve been successfully sued in a class action suit, and you’re in the class.

You can identify yourself as a claimant in the class by going to musicsettlement.com and being counted. No actual proof of purchase is required. The deadline is this Monday, March 3rd. So, chop chop.

You won’t get rich. Chances are you won’t get a check large enough to merit a trip to the bank. Awards are to be no more than $20/person. And that is reduced as the number of claimants increases. So don’t tell anyone, okay? ;)

This reminds me of Douglas Hofstadter’s Luring Lottery, where the prize was $1,000,000 divided by the number of entrants. It’s an exercise in social cooperation, because the rules said that you contribute as many entries (free) as you want, so you can improve your own chances by reducing the payoff for (yourself and) others. A truly altruistic person would either enter only once or not at all to keep the overall benefit of the game high. Hofstadter was betting that peoples’ greed would override their collective altruism. Hofstadter won his bet — the winner was awarded a few thousandths of a penny.

This settlement is a bit like that except for one key difference. Yes, you can only “enter” once, but the biggest difference is that if the individual payoff gets low enough (less than $5), the whole pot goes to charity. That’s the outcome I’m hoping for. I’d rather see the money go to charity than get a check for $5.13 in the mail. But, still, $5.13 is $5.13.

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