The misleadingly tame headline in today's Daily Variety is about as yawn-inducing as they come, up there with chestnuts like "Governor Appoints Committee to Study Problem."
What was it? "Sony BMG to Pay Fines."
But the implications are pretty hefty if you bought music of any kind in any quantity.
As Variety's Phil Gallo puts it in one of the most succinct, clever leads of the year, "In the land of ones and zeroes, it's consumers 1, Sony BMG 0."
Explains Gallo: "The music giant agreed Tuesday to cease embedding compact discs with digital rights management software that limited the number of copies consumers can make of the music and harmed the computers of some consumers...Under the settlement, Sony BMG will provide refunds of up to $175 to California consumers, who will have 180 days to file a refund claim via a form available on Sony BMG's Web site and must include a description of the harm and documentation of repair expenses."
So, Christmas comes a little early, kids. If you bought a CD from Arista, Columbia, Epic or RCA Records, guess what? It's probably free.
If you think I am indulging a little too much schadenfreude, think about how little honesty Sony Music has about its marketing practices.
Per The Motley Fool, Sony this week also got caught operating a fake blog, or "flog." The flog was a video blog that appeared to have been made by an amateur MC named 'Charlie,' one called "alliwantforxmasisapsp.com." Charlie, the flog insists, owns a PSP and has a pal who craves one too.
Sony is amazing; I once caught them doing the same thing a few years ago with their movie division. They were pressing their own minority employees to appear in testimonial TV ads for Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" -- a film in which American slaves were made to appear as cheerful independent contractors, rather than humiliated chattel.