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The Courts Music

Antitrust Case Against RIAA Reinstated 163

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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  • by AmonRa1979 ( 797618 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:44AM (#30778804)

    I think the difference is that Al Capone DIDN'T pay off the right government officials. That's probably not the case here.

  • 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.

  • by castironpigeon ( 1056188 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:48AM (#30778838)
    I'd mod up parent post if I had the points. It's great seeing a case like this take one small step forward, but unfortunately it's a bit like skipping through a minefield where the mines are politicians and public officials whose pockets are lined with MAFIAA money and the minefield ends miles away. I don't think we're gonna make it.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:52AM (#30778864) Homepage Journal

    Can't [all major labels' simultaneous royalty] increase (approximately 7%) be explained by typical inflation and justifiably be expected every two years?

    Why doesn't it decrease as the cost of producing music decreases? Look at how much it cost to record an album in 1980 vs. now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:53AM (#30778888)

    Oh FFS calm down - and look in the dictionary for "evil".

    There's nothing evil about not caring about music, or about you, or about the "well-being" of a bunch of self-entitled middle-class pricks. No-one in Ethopia is starving because of the RIAA cartel overpricing the latest fucking Jonah Bros CD. Villagers haven't been raped and murdered for being in the way of a new CD pressing plant in Nigeria. And 20,000 people per year aren't dying from lung cancer because they got hooked on Eminem.

    Please get some fucking perspective on this. These companies deal in *entertainment*. Look at oil and diamonds and drink and tobacco and firearms if you want to talk about "evil".

  • Re:Echo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:56AM (#30778920) Homepage Journal

    Ditto. Yes, this story makes me so happy, I'm willing to be a dittohead for awhile. Enjoy while you can! ;^)

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:12AM (#30779098) Homepage Journal

    It's not the price, it's the collusion. The labels are supposed to be in competition with each other. Slashdot has repeatedly recognized that the business of a business is to make money - by whatever means possible. Without collusion and general agreement in the backrooms and lounges, one or more labels might actually become convinced that giving away lots and lots of music is the true route to fortune. Baen Books has learned that lesson - especially with older books. They release an out of print book, FOR FREE, and people not only start asking for that book, but they purchase even more books by the same author, and/or in the same genre.

    In the case of the labels represented by RIAA, everyone is part of the Good Old Boy's club, everyone is in lockstep, with the same program, same menu, same tactics. They have a happy status quo, and no one is about to rock the boat with anything so barbaric as COMPETITION!!

  • by csmass ( 1705560 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:14AM (#30779112)
    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 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?
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:28AM (#30779236) Journal

    No-one in Ethopia is starving because of the RIAA cartel overpricing the latest fucking Jonah Bros CD.

    Yawn. The old "if it ain't as bad as the worst evil I can think of, you're just whining about it" argument. It remains invalid.

    Sure, these guys aren't murderers, most of them. They're still thieves on a massive scale (mostly from the "talent" they claim to be protecting). They're still willing to sue people into bankruptcy for bucking them. They'd still like to put people in jail for writing computer programs they don't like. They'd still like to ban entire classes of technology to maintain their profits. They're still evil, even if Idi Amin makes them look like pikers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:30AM (#30779260)

    I assume that your link is to this song [], "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 and The Daily Show being two of the many series that you used to be able to watch online for free (and see some commercials) but now need to download from bittorrent. I could of course just use VPN to some host in USA but really... If I need to go through the trouble of circumventing the protections anyway, my interest to pay for a good VPN and watch the ads isn't that high.

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:32AM (#30779278)

    Because with monopoly pricing, the price isn't set in relation to the cost to produce but in relation to the consumers disposable income. You don't lower prices unless the cost of lost sales exceed the revenue lost by lower per-unit price (and sometimes not even then; costs seem to be notoriously difficult for companies to get rid of, basically only competitors undercutting them seem to get it done).

    So until copyright is replaced with a system working as a competitive market, you're simply not going to see any cost savings passed along; it would be economically incompatible with the fundamental structure of monopoly rights.

  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:44AM (#30779416)
    Rights are easy. It is always about the rights of the politicians in power to get more power. Every country is the same in that. The only difference is in how they approach their goals.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:51AM (#30779506) Homepage Journal
    I seem to remember that the DIY recording equipment available in 1980 was far lower fidelity and far lower capability than Apple GarageBand of 2010.
  • by genmax ( 990012 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:03PM (#30779628)
    It is also collusion that lets stuff like DRM live on. I think the comment about eMusic in the summary is telling. If the record labels had in reality been competing with each other, DRM would be history by now. It would just take one label to start selling music as mp3s, and customers would flock to them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:37PM (#30780050)

    You win either way - making things better for the consumer means the consumer will start buying music again, which automatically makes things better for the musician, and the market as a whole. Bottom line, we need to get rid of Sony and all the other crap companies belonging to RIAA so the organization disappears.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:53PM (#30780272)

    The onion cries...

    First: you don't know where you are going to "exit" from, and you'd have to manually change the exit node until you reach an "allowed" one, which puts a certain strain on the network.
    Second: using TOR for such a lame purpose is, guess what, lame.
    Third: using TOR with to watch streaming videos is simply a suicide.

  • by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:27PM (#30780784) Homepage Journal

    Better than thieves, I'd compare them to child extortionists. They seduce young musicians with dreams of fame and money, make promises they'll never keep, then they bleed them dry of their efforts then cast them away when they are too frail too lift a finger. All the while, these people are kept illusioned that it is all to their benefit so that they never have the opportunity to learn a lesson from the experience.

    The cocaine off of strippers' asses isn't recreation, it's medicinal.

  • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @02:33PM (#30781812)

    Whether or not you are buying a license to listen to music or not is variously debateable depending on how you procured it. For instance if you go to any music store and purchase a CD album no where does it state that you are agree'ing to a license.

    Copyright is necessary in some ways to advance our culture and society, but the current state of copyright law is completely out of line with it's orignal intent.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley