Class action lawsuit over copy-protection software.

A federal judge on Monday (May 22) granted final approval of a settlement between Sony BMG Music Entertainment and consumers who filed a class action lawsuit over copy-protection software installed on popular CDs, spokesmen for both parties said.

Manhattan federal judge Naomi Buchwald finalized the agreement -- which received temporary approval in January -- that stemmed from the music company's use of controversial technology aimed at stopping illegal copying of music on CDs.

The lawsuit against Sony BMG alleged that the technology, known as XCP or Media Max, left computers vulnerable to hackers and allowed the company to track listening habits.

The CDs with the copy protection software featured music from 52 artists, including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Celine Dion.

The settlement allows consumers to exchange old CDs for new ones without the copy protection technology and requires Sony BMG to provide software to remove the technology.

"This is a good deal for music fans," said Kurt Opsahl, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented consumers in the case.

"The software that caused this debacle is not going to be on any more discs and we encourage that everyone that has bought affected discs to take advantage of this settlement," he said.

A spokesman for Sony BMG, a joint venture of Japan's Sony Corp. and Germany's Bertelsmann AG, said the company was pleased with the final settlement.

People who bought the affected CD's are also entitled to a cash payment of $7.50 and one album download from a selection of 200 titles.

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