RealNetworks To Refund Swindled Subscribers

RealNetworks, the company that created the Real media player and pioneered music streaming in the late 1990s, has created a compensation fund to repay some users over its allegedly fraudulent e-commerce practices.

A complaint filed by Washington state prosecutors accused the company of misleading customers into paying for services they did not intend to subscribe to.

"Deceptive pre-checked boxes and fine print obligated consumers to not-so-free trials for subscription services they didn't want in the first place", said Washington state's attorney general Rob McKenna.

The fund contains $2 million (£1.3 million) that will be paid out in settlement to subscribers who were allegedly wrongfully charged between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2009, the company said.

"While we disagree with the complaint filed by the Washington Attorney General, we acknowledge that some aspects of RealNetworks' e-commerce practices were not what our customers expected of us", RealNetworks CEO Thomas Nielsen said in a statement.

The company will also pay the Attorney General's office $400,000 in legal expenses.