Terms similar to ones reached in U.S. last Dec.

Sony BMG has entered a preliminary settlement of Canadian class action lawsuits over the digital rights management used in some of the company's CDs. Consumers claimed that the DRM may have created security vulnerabilities and was difficult to uninstall.

The settlement covers suits filed in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec in late 2005 and early 2006. The terms are similar to the settlement reached in the United States last December.

"Sony BMG is pleased to have reached this agreement with the class action plaintiffs, and we look forward to the court approval process," Sony BMG (Canada) said in a statement.

The settlement covers anyone in Canada who purchased a Sony BMG music CD between Aug. 1, 2003, and Aug. 10, 2006, which carried XCP or MediaMax software.

Under the settlement, which must still be approved by the court, those who have CDs with XCP will receive a replacement CD, free digital music files of the same album, and either CAN$8.40 ($7.60) and a free album download or three free album downloads.

Those with a CD with MediaMax 3.0 may be able to download free digital files of the same tracks, and those with MediaMax 5.0 also a free album download.

As part of the agreement, Sony BMG denied any wrongdoing. It also agreed to advise the courts if it uses content protection software on CDs sold in Canada that has not been reviewed under its U.S. settlement agreement.

Sony BMG also affirmed—and the settlement agreement acknowledged—that an independent auditor found that Sony BMG had not collected any personally identifiable information from consumers without consent.

Consumers may elect to opt out of this class-action settlement and pursue their own claims. Hearings to decide whether to approve this settlement will be held in the three provinces in late September.

Sony BMG (Canada) directed inquiries to a Web site, cdtechsettlement.sonybmg.ca/en