On the day that my comments about the recent MoFi settlement were posted on this site, I received a copy of Tuttle v. Audiophile Music Direct in the mail.
Included in the settlement document was a link to a website that contains information and supporting documents pertaining to the case. On the site’s home page, there’s a description of those consumers who are classified as “Class Members” for the purposes of the settlement:
All original retail consumers in the United States who, from March 19, 2007, through July 27, 2022 purchased, either directly from a Defendant or other retail merchants, new and unused Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Inc. (“MoFi”) vinyl recordings which were marketed by Defendants using the series labeling descriptors “Original Master Recording” and/or “Ultradisc One-Step,” that were sourced from original analog master tapes and which utilized a direct stream digital transfer step in the mastering chain, and provided that said purchasers still own said recordings (the “Applicable Records”). Excluded from the Class are persons who obtained subject Applicable Records from other sources.
The settlement document gave me the option to “exclude myself from the Class.” If I chose that option, I would have to “notify Class Counsel in writing of [my] intention to be excluded.” In that case, I wouldn’t receive payment and could not “object to the settlement.” I could simply choose not to respond to the document, which would automatically put me in the excluded group.
Alternatively, I could object to the settlement “if [I] don’t like any part of it.” That would involve writing a letter outlining my objections and the reasons I think the court should not approve the settlement. The court would then consider my arguments. I could even ask to appear in court to present my objections, or appoint an attorney to do so. But if I requested a court hearing, I would have to pay the associated costs. Objections to the settlement would have to be filed by August 22, 2023.
If I accepted the settlement, I could file a claim for any LPs that are covered by the settlement. The last five pages of the 11-page document I received are the claim form, which I must submit by September 21, 2023.
Section 1 of the claim form contains a table for noting the details of each qualifying LP I own, identified by artist and title, catalog number, and the stamped or handwritten MoFi number on the back cover.
In Section 2, I am asked to provide proof of purchase. A table is provided to list qualifying LPs shown in Section 1 that I bought directly from MoFi or Music Direct. The record numbers in this section must correspond to the titles in Section 1. In another table, I can provide the order number (“if known”), purchase date, and email address I used when I bought the record.
In the third table in Section 2, I can provide details for MoFi LPs I bought from retailers other than MoFi or Music Direct. For each item, I must list the retail merchant (name and address, or website), purchase date, and amount paid. I’ll also need to attach a proof of purchase, “such as a receipt, credit card statement, cancelled check referencing the Applicable Record, or other reliable documentation.”
In Section 3, I can choose, for each LP, one of three options: return for a full refund, a 5% payment, or a 10% coupon. I saw nothing that indicates whether the 5% payment or 10% coupon are based on the price I originally paid, but I assume that’s the case. If I choose to return any LPs for a full refund, MoFi will provide a shipping label.
If I purchased more than ten qualifying LPs, I’m advised to make copies of the form to claim for additional titles.
I noticed that the class member description limits the MoFi records covered by the settlement to “Original Master Recording” or “Ultradisc One-Step” LPs. Mobile Fidelity LPs that have a “Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab” banner at the top, or are part of the Silver Label series, are not included in the Applicable Records list. MoFi was always clear that those LPs were not sourced from the original masters.
Although some news reports stated MoFi’s settlement will end up costing the company $25 million, a close examination of the final opinion reveals that won’t necessarily be the case. If everyone covered by the settlement returns affected LPs for a full refund, it could cost MoFi $33 million. However, if everyone keeps their LPs and asks for the 5% refund, the total amount paid is estimated to be $1.67 million; while if they all choose the 10% coupon option, the total cost to MoFi will be about $3.3 million. Since it’s highly likely that the final result will be a combination of all three claims, the final payout should be less—and probably significantly less—than $25 million.
Provided no one files objections that cause the court to modify or delay the agreed-upon settlement, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab should soon see an end to this sad chapter of its history.
. . . Joseph Taylor