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The Courts Music

Antitrust Case Against RIAA Reinstated 163

Posted by kdawson
from the collusion-and-restraint dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "After Starr v. SONY BMG Music Entertainment was dismissed at the District Court level, the antitrust class action against the RIAA has been reinstated by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In its 25-page opinion (PDF), the Appeals court held the following allegations sufficiently allege antitrust violations: 'First, defendants agreed to launch MusicNet and pressplay, both of which charged unreasonably high prices and contained similar DRMs. Second, none of the defendants dramatically reduced their prices for Internet Music (as compared to CDs), despite the fact that all defendants experienced dramatic cost reductions in producing Internet Music. Third, when defendants began to sell Internet Music through entities they did not own or control, they maintained the same unreasonably high prices and DRMs as MusicNet itself. Fourth, defendants used MFNs [most favored nation clauses] in their licenses that had the effect of guaranteeing that the licensor who signed the MFN received terms no less favorable than terms offered to other licensors. For example, both EMI and UMG used MFN clauses in their licensing agreements with MusicNet. Fifth, defendants used the MFNs to enforce a wholesale price floor of about 70 cents per song. Sixth, all defendants refuse to do business with eMusic, the #2 Internet Music retailer. Seventh, in or about May 2005, all defendants raised wholesale prices from about $0.65 per song to $0.70 per song. This price increase was enforced by MFNs.'"
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Antitrust Case Against RIAA Reinstated

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  • MFN? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orta (786013) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:47AM (#30778150) Homepage Journal
    Its not exactly most favored nation, if there's no advantage to being so.
  • by colin_n (50370) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:54AM (#30778230) Homepage Journal

    Who is going to compensate me for my increased stress level from living in fear of being sued by the RIAA? If I had kids and I wanted them to behave, I'd just tell them stories about the RIAA coming to get them and financially ruin them.

    Don't jaywalk kids because the RIAA will come get you.
    Eat your vegetables so you can be strong to fight the riaa.

    Seriously though, I hate those guys.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ari_j (90255)
      For your kids: Don't download this song! [youtube.com]
      • by Quantumstate (1295210) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#30778606)

        "This video contains content from Vevo, who has decided to block it in your country. "

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by blackest_k (761565)

          same here in ireland

          but lets get it clear who's blocking us
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vevo [wikipedia.org]

          Vevo is a music video and entertainment website. It is owned by Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media Company.[1] The service was launched officially on 8 December 2009.[2] The video hosting for Vevo is provided by YouTube, with Google and Vevo sharing the advertising revenue.[3] Vevo offers music videos from three of the four major record labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI.[4]

          One of the reasons cited for the launch of Vevo is the competition that music videos have on YouTube. Warner Music Group apparently removed its content from YouTube in March 2009 for this reason, but is said to be considering hosting its content on Vevo.[5]

      • by Snotboble_ (13797) <ajeNO@SPAMsnotboble.net> on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#30778618) Homepage Journal
        "This video contains content from Vevo, who has decided to block it in your country.". FYI, I live in a pinko commie 3rd world country called "Denmark" :P Gotta love the "rights protecton" - whose rights..?
      • Don't miss out kids! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:26AM (#30779212) Journal
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The whole process of watching the internet route around content protection in a matter of minutes, in an article about the RIAA getting sued.

          It's like my birthday suddenly was Christmas, and then suddenly both were today.

          I love you slashdot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by biryokumaru (822262) *
          "This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment, who has decided to block it in your country."
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I assume that your link is to this song [youtube.com], "Don't download this song" by Weird Al.. The song is quite heavy and very obvious critic against RIAA and it's scare tactics of destroying lives because of a few downloaded songs and about how they have the whole legal system (lawyers, judges the police) under their control. The irony of not being able to legally watch the video outside USA is overwhelming.

        That is very common, however. For example many TV shows can't be watched online from Europe anymore. Southpark a

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      The point about boogy men is they aren't supposed to be real, that way once the kids get old enough, they don't have to live their lives in fear.

      Obviously the **AA groups are not suitable for this, because they are real!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      why would you have an increased stress level due to the RIAA? Only people who are violating copyright on music would need to worry about that. If you've violated copyright then the stress is induced by you - so sue yourself. If you haven't violated copyright than any stress you are feeling due to the RIAA is a symptom of insanity.
      • by Tanktalus (794810)

        Right. Because the RIAA never goes after people who haven't pirated. They don't send nasty letters to printers or 7-year-old girls.

        The stress of living in a police state (and that's what RIAA has proclaimed themselves to be, not in word but in deed) is not whether you did something wrong or not, it's whether you're accused (and thus nearly automatically convicted) of doing something wrong, regardless of whether you actually did it or not.

        • by g0bshiTe (596213)

          is not whether you did something wrong or not,

          More to the point that you can prove you didn't.

    • by icannotthinkofaname (1480543) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:58AM (#30779598) Journal

      When you're 5: "Sharing is a nice thing to do, kids. Don't be selfish! Hoarding your stuff makes you look like a huge jerk."

      When you're 25: "Sharing is an evil thing to do, citizen. It's not selfish! Letting other people use your stuff is illegal because it means I make less money. Pay no attention to the fact that my salary is an order of magnitude higher than yours!"

      WTF world! If sharing is evil, don't tell me when I'm 5 that it's nice!

      If I ever manage to have kids, I want to raise them to believe that sharing is evil. I will then note other people's reactions to the idea. If people are generally shocked and appalled that people could actually believe this, then I will use that as an argument to show why this BS that the RIAA believes in must be outlawed.

      • If you teach your kids to emulate the most corrupt douchebags right from the start, may I suggest that you also teach your kids that drinking and driving or abusing prescription drugs are cool?

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by BobMcD (601576)

        Sharing your own toys is not evil. "Sharing" toys that belong to someone else is. Particularly when you have agreed not to do it.

        The rest is detail.

  • Thanks again NYCL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zerocool^ (112121) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:09AM (#30778372) Homepage Journal

    Thanks for keeping us in the loop NYCL.

    These seem to be serious allegations. I hope there's action taken this time.

    These deserve to be kept in mind:
    http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/ [salon.com] (Courtney Love Does the Math, from 2000 - looking at it now, oddly prophetic)
    http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com] (The Problem with Music, by Producer Steve Albini - great insight into the process of Major Label music)

    This is why we should care. I know that it's clichéd, but these companies care nothing about you, or about music, or about the well-being of the world in which they operate. They are wholly evil, in a way that almost no other business is.

    • Re:Thanks again NYCL (Score:5, Informative)

      by unixfan (571579) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:18AM (#30778470) Homepage

      At one point they also lobbied to get a law that would allow them to hack your computer and wipe out the content if they suspected you of having illegal music. Fortunately Congress did not agree.

    • Re:Thanks again NYCL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:26AM (#30778576)

      I remember when I worked with a guy with good connections to all (then five) big music companies (who did all the deals for us, because he was an insider). He usually was on the phone with these big music managers, loudly joking, and setting up meetings of talking about deals.

      In the industry, it’s all about connections. A small group of people who know each other.

      And this was, how he once described the typical “business meeting” to me: (I think in this example it was the EMI boss.)
      He took the elevator to the top floor. The guy greeted him and offered him lines of coke as thick as your finger, on a mirror.
      Then he ordered some hookers. And then it was time for business.
      According to him, that was rather normal, and in no way an exception.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DJRumpy (1345787)

      I wasn't aware of the Courtney Love letter. That was an amazing read (many thanks). That begs the second question. Why haven't I heard of this letter before? The RIAA is an evil beyond typical corporate scams and money making. They have fingers in world wide political pies, and money to literally burn. The fact that a single group can exert so much power in political circles should be a huge wake up call to everyone, yet year by year goes by and only the 'geeks' and those affected voice their concerns. I th

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by csmass (1705560)
        Why are banks allowed to keep you in debt for the rest of your life? The answer to both questions are almost the same, US citizens all suffer from some form of memory loss, that or the like to be lubed up and penetrated. You could argue, banks and RIAA both only serve to entrap people and take control of their lives financially, yet it would fall upon deaf ears.
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          Considering you can easily pay off a card if you simply pay more than the minimum, or pay early, it's not nearly the same situation. These folks are legally bound to produce for the recording industry, and everything they produce that's worth anything is owned forever by the same industry.

          How does that compare?

    • by Tim C (15259) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:48AM (#30778836)

      These seem to be serious allegations. I hope there's action taken this time.

      You mean you hope there's action taken if they are proven to be true, right?

      Due process applies to everyone, not just the people we like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DJRumpy (1345787)

        And when the organization being sued is writing the very legislation that allows their actions? What then?

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        You mean you hope there's action taken if they are proven to be true, right?

        Due process applies to everyone, not just the people we like.

        I'd hope there is action taken even if collusion can't be proven in a court of law.
        Legal, but anti-competitive trade practices are just as damaging to the markets as illegal ones.

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        There's more than enough evidence that is public to make a decision. If I see someone slit the throat of someone else, I'm not going to wait until he is proven to be a murderer in a court of law to call him that.

      • by selven (1556643)

        Action taken as in "people actually acting on the allegation and investigating it".

      • You mean you hope there's action taken if they are proven to be true, right?

        Due process applies to everyone, not just the people we like.

        Wait, when did our hopes have to include due process? Does this mean I can no longer hope that certain American citizens who annoy me on a daily basis get tortured for all eternity by the devil himself? Can I still hope it if I also hope they go through a sham trial in some south american junta first and are convicted on grounds of "being fucking annoying?"

        I'm a little unclear as to how the extradition would work there...

      • by ignavus (213578)

        These seem to be serious allegations. I hope there's action taken this time.

        You mean you hope there's action taken if they are proven to be true, right?

        Due process applies to everyone, not just the people we like.

        No. The mere existence of an association of so-called "competitors", like the RIAA, should be very worrying to anyone who wants a free, competitive market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shaka (13165)

      This! Kudos to Ray Beckerman for your tireless work, and everybody:

      Read Courtney Love's article! It's an amazing read!

      http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/ [salon.com] (Courtney Love Does the Math, from 2000 - looking at it now, oddly prophetic)

    • It occurs to me that all it takes to break up a 'cartel' like this is one or two successful publishers who are not owned or controlled in any way by the existing publishers, and that such independent publishers are willing to really compete with the other labels to sign talent and publish music. The question is, are there any independent labels right now? I remember seeing a chart sometime ago which showed how a lot of 'independent labels' are really owned by the big music publishers, who just use those oth

    • This is why we should care. I know that it's clichéd, but these companies care nothing about you, or about music, or about the well-being of the world in which they operate. They are wholly evil, in a way that almost no other business is.

      What other companies _actually_ care about the consumer, the product they sell, or the world in which they operate? Modern society boils all of business down to a search for short-term profit. Consumers only matter because they have wallets, products only matter because they need to open the consumer's wallets somehow, and the world at large only matters when it begins being bad for business.

    • Re:Thanks again NYCL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:48PM (#30780190) Homepage Journal

      Thanks for keeping us in the loop NYCL. These seem to be serious allegations. I hope there's action taken this time.

      I don't have the slightest doubt that the allegations

      are true, and
      can easily be proven.

      If I were a betting man, I'd be betting..... settlement.

      • Re:Thanks again NYCL (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday January 15, 2010 @02:05PM (#30781364)

        I don't have the slightest doubt that the allegations are true, and can easily be proven. If I were a betting man, I'd be betting..... settlement.

        The question of if the RIAA loses and if they make a settlement and on how favorable of terms probably has less to do with their guilt and the law than it has to do with who is running the show. The justice department is loaded with ex-employees of RIAA at the highest levels. Maybe that means they will know how to deal with these guys or maybe it means their buddies will get off with a slap on the wrist. Much of that may depend upon if Obama keeps his promises about not letting industry insiders provide favoritism to their friends from within his administration.

        • Re:Thanks again NYCL (Score:5, Informative)

          by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Friday January 15, 2010 @05:20PM (#30784100) Homepage Journal

          I don't have the slightest doubt that the allegations are true, and can easily be proven. If I were a betting man, I'd be betting..... settlement.

          The question of if the RIAA loses and if they make a settlement and on how favorable of terms probably has less to do with their guilt and the law than it has to do with who is running the show. The justice department is loaded with ex-employees of RIAA at the highest levels.

          This is a private class action; it has nothing to do with the justice department. It would have to do with what the lawyers work out, whether class members object, and whether the judge approves of the deal.

  • Interesting Points (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tisha_AH (600987) <Tisha.Hayes@gmail.com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:27AM (#30778588) Journal

    It is interesting to read the opinion. Conspiracy to fix prices, agreements to not compete against each other, all record companies refusing to do any business with certain companies.

    They are acting like a monopoly. This is what led to the breakup of Standard Oil back in the early part of the 20th century and the breakup of the Bell System into Baby Bells.

    This most favored nation (MFN) deal they have going and how all prices change in lockstep.

    Wow, it reminds me of how they eventually caught Al Capone. Not on running a crime syndicate but on tax evasion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:34AM (#30778660)

    Speaking as someone who's very close to the RiAA this is what I have to say:

    You people have no chance! We own the Congress, we have more lawyers and eventually, NYCL WILL come over to the Darkside - it's only a matter of time.

    You little thieves just need to stop stealing our music!

    We now have factories in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Africa that produce music - all run by small children that are paid with barely enough food to live. We just hire good looking people to lip synch in videos and "live" shows. And then when they can't work anymore, we sell the little girls into prostitution and the boys are then trained to be our stormtroopers.

    So just shut up! I have to go. My stupid idiotic maid made my afternoon cocktail with the blood of kittens when I especially ordered her to make it with the blood of puppies!

    Courtney!

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:04AM (#30779000) Homepage Journal

      You little thieves just need to stop stealing our music!

      Your labels also own music publishers, the companies that own copyright in the music and lyrics apart from the recording. If you provide us indie songwriters with an automated way to check any song we've written against these music publishers' catalogs to make sure we didn't screw up like George Harrison ("My Sweet Lord") or Michael Bolton ("Love Is a Wonderful Thing"), we might take you up on this offer.

  • by locallyunscene (1000523) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:34AM (#30778672)
    So they're finally calling them on the price fixing of CDs?

    I wonder if Hollywood Accounting could save them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      They don't need Hollywood Accounting. Ask any musician how much money a record release actually makes them these days. It's clearly not a profitable business!

  • What will I get? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've bought hundreds of dollars in music (mostly online) over the last 5 years. If in fact the court rules that they have been fixing prices will I get any of that money back?

  • by slashdime (818069) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:12AM (#30779086)
    Screw these MF's and their MFN's!
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:19AM (#30779158)
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention NYC, but if you'll excuse the pun, we've heard this tune before. Suppose that the RIAA loses and is ordered to pay restitution, but instead of cash the court allows the RIAA and its members to "pay" by donating a selection of CDs or downloads of their choice (i.e. their choice of the worst selling items) while valuing them, for the purposes of the settlement, at "full retail" (even though almost none of them actually sell at that price in the real world). What will prevent them from offering an equally "useless" settlement payment, as they have been allowed to do in the past, again this time?
    • Don't be daft, they'll value them at the same as used in their court cases and release one Britney Spears and one S-Club-7 track to Creative Commons.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:34PM (#30780002)

      Suppose that the RIAA loses and is ordered to pay restitution, but instead of cash the court allows the RIAA and its members to "pay" by donating a selection of CDs or downloads of their choice (i.e. their choice of the worst selling items)

      Don't bet on it. They can only get away with that shit once. It isn't the court that decided that last time, it was a negotiated settlement between the various state DAs offices and the RIAA. The DAs just didn't realize what sharks they were dealing with. I know this because an ex of mine was a junior DA from one of the smaller states on that case and she even got herself quoted in their local paper saying something to the effect of, "I'm sure the senior DAs from around the country will not allow the RIAA to wiggle out of this settlement." Its about 10 years later and that newspaper interview is still one of the funniest things I have to give her shit about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:31AM (#30779264)

    that is the fact that the canadian arm of the R.I.A.A. up here called the CRIA hasnt paid 300,000 artists since 1980.

    BOY oh boy thats a bomb to say in court eh?
    if they are commercially pirating up in canada , are they doing it in the USA and other countries and does that mean that record breaking profit year really mean profit to the riaa OR is it fraudulently stolen monies.

  • The link in the article points to a framed view of the PDF. The PDF itself is here [beckermanlegal.com]. Let's post bare links please? ...ank

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