Originally created 07/17/04

CD distribution to libraries stalls



CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina libraries are to receive 70,000 compact discs as part of a legal settlement, but the distribution of CDs was suspended after other states appeared to be receiving dozens of warehouse leftovers.

School officials in Washington received 1,300 copies of Whitney Houston singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Iowa received 307 copies of Michael Bolton's 1991 Timeless CD and dozens of John Tesh's One World.

A library in Worcester, Mass., received 148 copies of Entertainment Weekly's Greatest Hits of 1971 while a Seattle library received 48 copies of Scary Sounds for Halloween from Martha Stewart.

Shipments from the $75 million settlement to South Carolina were expected this month but have been postponed.

"We're on hold for probably a good while until this is sorted out," said Trey Walker, a spokesman for state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

The multistate lawsuit against the recording industry accused companies of conspiring to illegally raise CD prices in violation of state and federal laws.

Each of the more than 3 million individuals who registered a claim in the lawsuit - including 36,525 South Carolinians - received a $13.76 settlement check.

Mr. McMaster's office has reviewed the list of CDs to be distributed and required that controversial artists such as rapper Eminem be taken off the list.

At least 3,000 titles are being removed. The list could be completed as early as next week, Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Walker said Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada and Virginia are conducting similar reviews.

Some officials wonder whether the decision should be left to librarians.

At the Charleston County Library, an artist's effect and public demand are considered. The library has discs by Eminem and Rage Against the Machine, said Kevin Crothers, the library's head of media services.

"The community standards for the guy in Columbia might be substantially different than the community standards in Charleston," he said.

The CD distribution will be based on population. For example, Charleston County will receive 6,754 discs and Berkeley County 3,104.

"At this point, we're glad to get anything we can," said Colleen Carney, the director of the Berkeley County Library, which has a small CD collection. "What we would do with 200 or 1,400 copies of the same thing, I don't know ... but we would take whatever we got."