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Attorney General Investigates Music Price Fixing 257

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the when-you-get-done-there-go-talk-to-the-oil-companies dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian is reporting that the US Attorney General has launched an investigation into whether or not record labels are engaged in price fixing of music downloads. From the article: 'The department of justice inquiry centers on the activities of the four largest record labels: EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner Music. Subpoenas are believed to have been issued to all parties, with federal officials understood to be focusing on whether the companies have been colluding to keep the price of downloads artificially high.'"
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Attorney General Investigates Music Price Fixing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:29AM (#14852880)
    Another pretty good article on this subject can be found at this site [slashdot.org]
    • by Wayne_Knight (958917) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:33AM (#14852889) Homepage
      Is this surprising?

      Everyone is greedy to a point. Some are just able to carry their greed to the point of complete selfishness and totally ignore the high percentage of people who have a hard time just keeping a roof over their heads.

      What the heck will it take? Evolution of the human species? I always think back to those old Star Trek episodes where they land on some planet where the inhabitants laugh kindly at Earth's culture because they have learned to live without greed, take care of everyone, and actually enjoy sex rather than codify it.

      I don't know why I want to write this... mod at your leisure. But before you bite my head off, I want to make sure all the future commenters out there read this very key quote:
      "Music companies make more money when they sell a song on iTunes than when they sell a CD," Mr Jobs said last year. "If they want to raise prices, it's because they're greedy. If the price goes up, people turn back to piracy - and everybody loses."
      Hopefully that will keep those crazy anti-Apple fanboys at bay.
      • BACK to piracy? Jesus, he must be living in a reality field all on his own. Gotta keep up the appearances for the record execs, I guess. It's like trying to unexplode the first nuclear bomb. He'd have better luck building a time machine and assassinating Hitler. Or trying to re-imprison Yog Sothoth back in the Pentagon before he escaped to Iraq and helped open the Seventh Gate. As long as music is commercialized in its present form, there are people who want more than they can afford, there will be pirac
        • You're kinda right... Except some people (like me) who don't listen to music that much are pretty happy with using exclusively the ITMS. When I found out about it I stopped downloading illegal music as I think the pricing is ok... If the pricing goes up I'll go back to limewire and the rest...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        You are so preoccupied with this boogy-man ("greed") that you've overlooked the root of the issue.

        Has the music industry achieved financial success through voluntary means only, or have they exploited the coercive powers of government as their means to financial success?

        I think we all know the answer. Let's deal with an actual, identifiable problem, which is government and its intervention in the media business. "Greed" cannot be dealt with objectively; it is a matter of personal opinion. The difference bet
      • What are you suggesting, total socialism? I think "greed" is really the over-used moniker jealous anti-capitalists have given to personal success.

        It's become a cliche to hear someone criticize human nature and say we need to "evolve" to some sort of ideal social position they have in their head. It's not going to happen--we're the way we are now specifically because of evolution. Survival of the fittest breeds creatures that learn to take care of themselves to increase the chances of spreading their gene
        • Genes can code for societal behavior, too. If I help 3 of my close relatives breed, I have just passed on my genes even if I don't breed myself. Look at ants and bees. Most of them never breed. If genes only code for selfish behavior, how'd that happen?

          Cooperative societies are more successfull than purely competative ones. According to recent economic research, most people value fairness and justice over personal gain. This is because cooperation is a more efficient strategy. Placing a high value on personal selfishness and greed is counter-productive. It encourages people who by nature might be cooperative to be selfish, harming all of society.

          You can try to get the rest of us to agree with your "greed is good" theory, but most people won't. We like cooperation. We value justice and fairness over greed and selfishness. We think people who are selfish and greedy suck, and we see no reason to cooperate with people like that and give them the benefits of our cooperative society. Greedy people should go live by themselves and be entirely self sufficent without being a drain on the rest of us.

          The 19th century called, it wants its failed theory of social darwinism back.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:37AM (#14852896) Journal
    Keeping the prices high? Are you kidding? If you think 0.99 per song is high you ain't seen nothing yet baby. As soon as we can get people to stop using iTunes and a MS based system instead with no Steve Jobs to protect consumers, and his bottomline, we will really be ramping up the price!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05, 2006 @04:02AM (#14852927)
      I always think of how it can cost 99 cents to download a full song from iTunes, which is a reasonable price considering a music CD costs at most that much on average, but then a ringtone of the same song, a 15 second or so clip, costs 3 dollars to download from the service provider of the phone. I should at least get the whole song on my phone for that much moola.
      • by Znork (31774) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @04:50AM (#14853008)
        "I always think of how it can cost 99 cents to download a full song from iTunes... but then a ringtone... costs 3 dollars"

        That's because p2p networks still keeps prices on downloads down.

        Pricing on copyrighted material isnt set relative to costs, it's set relative to available capital for purchases. If the consumers get more money, then the prices will rise, regardless of actual costs. The only 'competition' there is is illicit copying.

        The DOJ suing the labels for 'collusion to keep prices up' is rather ironic and just shows how far from reality the concept of IP has gone.

        To the attorney general: Yes, of course there is price fixing and collusion to keep the price up. It's in the damn code of law. Look under the heading 'digital millenium copyright act' in your own bookshelf and you'll find all the evidence you need. 'Keeping the prices up' was the whole point of it.
        • "I always think of how it can cost 99 cents to download a full song from iTunes... but then a ringtone... costs 3 dollars"

          That's because p2p networks still keeps prices on downloads down.


          $0.99 per song isn't "cheap"... iTMS attraction is that I don't have to buy 10 songs I don't like to get one I do. If I like the music enough to want the whole album, I buy the CD.

          It's the album price that limits the iTMS price. They couldn't get away with charging significantly more than CDs on iTMS when they get less for
        • by woolio (927141) * on Sunday March 05, 2006 @02:08PM (#14854201) Journal
          I recently discovered for myself the used CD market on ebay.

          I have currently purchased about ~50 cds. I got most for about $3 - $4 each on average including shipping. Each CD is a full album (no singles). Most have 10-15 songs on them. Many come from shops specializing in the sale of used cds...

          Which means I'm paying about $0.30 per song. And to think that someone had to collect these CDs, figure out which ones were scratched, which not, advertise on ebay, put them into a box, and ship them to be via the postal mail...

          Even if 25% of the CD is so scratched up that my computer can't read it, I still come out -- way ahead. And I like to think that maybe I'm helping someone [non-RIAA] out... (which may/may not be the case)

          And to think that we currently have an *industry* selling electronic copies of songs for $0.99? Thery already had the digitized recording from the recording studios... Bandwidth these days is practically free. There is virtually no packaging or transportation cost. Very little human intervention is required....

          So are the music companies colluding? Maybe. Or maybe they are just exploiting the dumbness of their customers... These companies are large enough to **define** the market. They don't have to answer to supply & demand. The real crime is that the public puts up with this and asks for more...

          Does anyone remember how buying home VHS/DVD movies used to be expensive? $15-$20 US for a single movie? Lately, Wal-Mart has a huge crate in their electronics dept, filled with DVDs for ~$5-$7 each... (*renting* at blockbuster costs almost that much ~$4). When displayed like that, I realize how stilly this whole $$$ for IP thing really is... But when displayed neatly in nice packaging on a shelf, these videos somehow appear [to the public] to merit their price...

          Some might say the $5-$7 movies are crap... Well, what are most of downloadable songs selling for $0.99 EACH??? And movies cost far far more to produce than music...

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Thats because when you buy a ringtone, you in fact license it for playing it in public. When you buy a song, you license it for playing it in limited groups.
      • Get a modern phone that can use mp3 files as ringtones (my Nokia 6230i can)
        • Most phones can play MP3 files now.. heck, they could 2 years ago. The problem is that the phone operators deliberately disable functionality to, for example, copy files to the device or download them off the web if it has a browser. So you're forced to go through the provider or a third party 'ringtone' store such as Ringtone King, Jamba!, etc. in the EU (same company, different name, practically a monopoly) from which the provider gets a kickback.

          Doesn't mean you can't get a phone which you -can- copy fi
      • Good point. I was really wondering what they were talking about in terms of price fixing. I thought 99c was what they finally figured people were willing to pay to download a song rather than steal it. Basically it was the compromise point between corporate profit and user willingness. The only thing I'm not entirely sure about is the price of buying an album wholesale though. I'm pretty sure everything I've looked at on iTunes is cheaper to buy the album, but I'm wondering if any exceptions exist.

        If c
      • I always thought that the high price of ringtones was some sort of a 'stupid tax' designed to protect the general public from having to listen to the latest Snoop Dogg obnoxiousness every time some asshole's phone goes off on the train.

        Obviously it's not working. Verizon, would you please, PLEASE increase the price on ringtones? How about $19.95? Wait -- I've got an even better idea -- why don't you bill it at 20 bucks per ring? You'll get right on that? Thanks.
    • Lol, yeah, that's why he's charging $.20 more than anyone else and putting it straight into Apple's coffers.
      • You have that backwards. The other services are charging 79 cents in an attempt to steal market share from iTMS. Apple has mind share, market share, the iPod, iTunes on Mac and Windows, and an integrated service. Everyone else is lowballing price to compete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:39AM (#14852901)
    ...they have to pay a $50 fine and publish a press release including the words "We are vewwy, vewwy sowwy." Rinse, repeat 10 years later...
  • by spacepimp (664856) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:41AM (#14852905) Homepage
    I've been curious why it costs more to buy an entire album via download, than it does to buy the cd... IIRC it cost the lables more to make a tape, than to produce a cd, and the prices for cd were greater than tapes. Now without having to produce a pyhsical tangible disc or tape, the costs are higher still, witrhout packaging and liner notes, and printing costs. smells like price gouging to me.
    • Actually the cost of the physical medium is really small, they get them really cheap (I'd say $0.20 off the top of my head) when mass-produced. The largest part of the price is marketing, studio personnel and rent, and of course record company margins.

    • I've been curious why it costs more to buy an entire album via download, than it does to buy the cd...

      It does? Most albums on iTunes cost $9.99. CDs cost around $15 on average, sometimes as much as $20 for a single disc. Older ones do cost less, and stores often put them on sale for $10-12. But there's still no way I'd say the average price of a new CD is less than $10. I'm not saying online music isn't overpriced - more that CDs are MORE overpriced, and I'm amazed this lawsuit was never brought in rega

      • Actually, I find this to be the complete opposite. The first week an album comes out, it can usually be found for $7-$13. However, after that the price usually rises. Albums that have been on the shelf for a couple months sell for around $15, and stuff that's a few years old sells for $20. It's kind of odd that as more copies sell, that the price goes up. But it's probably based on warehousing and decreased demand making it cost more to store it on the shelf.
  • About time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:43AM (#14852909) Journal
    I'm not really sure how relavent the old style labels are to the modern music industry. Strip away the hype and the fact remains that more and more artists are going independant, either producing or marketing their music on their own terms.

    Sorry guys, but leeching off the works of others is old hat - time to find really, genuinely good acts, or put up "for Sale" signs.

    • Re:About time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Loconut1389 (455297)
      labels -are- useful in some/many aspects. They do hunt for talent, provide resources for recording, orchestrate tours and publicity, and provide financial backing of upstart groups.

      A group of talented individuals can certainly gather their own resources and make their own connections and get their own loans, but the odds of a bank financing a fledgeling music group or being able to get a booking at a big venue or get you airtime on a hundred stations by making one phonecall are pretty slim. Admittedly, the
      • It's not all that hard for indie artists to get on iTunes. The reason some established acts aren't on there is entirely their own (or their label's) decision.

        I agree that the labels do serve a purpose - but maybe the whole point is that it's time to find other means to that end. If radio stations weren't 90% owned by one of a couple huge corporations, I bet it'd be easier for indies to get airplay. The whole system needs a reboot. Maybe between online music downloads, podcasts, and satellite radio (I know

    • I'm not really sure how relavent the old style labels are to the modern music industry. Strip away the hype and the fact remains

      ...that independent artists have no better way to reach minor audiences. Minor children can't get into affordable live music venues (all of which serve alcoholic beverages), and they often are forbidden to bring MP3 players or other electronic contraband onto school property (and are thus forced to listen to whatever RIAA shit the school bus driver's favorite Clear Channel mono

  • *Cough* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Sorenson (947697) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @03:49AM (#14852915)
    They are 10 years late and investigating the wrong medium. I don't see anything wrong with 99 cents per song, my issues were the $21 for a CD with one decent song.
    • Re:*Cough* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slashdot.org (321932) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @05:41AM (#14853073) Homepage Journal
      They are 10 years late and investigating the wrong medium. I don't see anything wrong with 99 cents per song, my issues were the $21 for a CD with one decent song.

      I do see something wrong with $0.99/song. I happen to like to get the entire album. I don't thing I've ever paid $21 for a CD. Maybe $17 at the most. But on average I'd say $14.-

      So that bottoms out at about nearly the same price. What I don't understand is why the music industry believes that they can pocket all the money when selling a product that [1] is inferior in sound quality (unless iTunes sells lossless compression now, I've done a-b tests and I think most people will be able to hear the difference in quality on a high-end audio system) [2] is inferior in flexibility (original CDs didn't have any form of DRM) [3] is less complete (where's the booklet with lyrics?) [4] requires special software to purchase/playback and finally [5] costs them a LOT less to distribute.

      The last one is really the kicker. I _know_ what distribution and production of media costs, and it's pretty clear that the music industry is behaving like a bunch of greedy bastards. If they are lucky they'll get 50% of what you pay for a CD after the cost of distribution, production and storage. Yet when they sell stuff online they want to pick up 100% of what normally goes to third parties. In other words, if I pay $10 for a CD, about half (or more) goes to the cost of media (CD, case & booklet), distribution, storage and retail cost. All this is pretty much replaced by a simple website and server, which will cost peanuts on a per-download basis. So the music industry wants to absorb all of the $5 or whatever that was saved by going online.

      I guess that's fine with me. I won't download music illegaly. But I won't buy it either. If I _really_ want something, I'll get a CD. Give me reasonable prices for a reasonable product and we'll talk. Don't come bitching about sales going down and quit your fucking government manipulation.

      The bands that are taking things in their own hands and realizing that recording and distributing online is something they can finance themselves should be applauded and supported in any way possible.
      • More irritating is that the infrastructure and technology is there to distribute all that you just mentioned, but nobody uses it. iTunes supports a lossless codec (which can be DRMed to at least make a token gesture), it supports e-inserts, it supports cover art, the only issue left is the DRM. There's already a database of who bought what, so hopefully when someone comes up with a sensible DRM mechanism to prevent copying but still allow usage it can all be converted.

        Why hasn't it been used yet? Because th
    • Ten years ago, Apple and Microsoft weren't feuding with the labels and weren't throwing bucketloads of $$$ at politicians to "level the playing field."

      I think the labels see their doom, but they just don't understand how to make a legitimate go of things as the old style payola model is being stripped away and artists have other distribution outlets for their content. So I suspect you'll see them continue to dig in their heels and make increasingly desperate moves to maintain the status quo...because they
  • Just downloads? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @04:33AM (#14852986)

    Price fixing has been a hallmark of the music industry for fifty years. Let's look at CD's.

    It costs any record company, on average, about $0.25 to get one CD into a retail store. This includes:

    • Studio time
    • Engineering/mixing
    • Paying the artist
    • Promotion
    • Distribution

    Normally, manufacturers strive to keep their cost per unit at or below 12.5% of the retail price. The distributor then buys the unit at 30% to 40% of retail. The retailer buys the unit at 60% of retail. The customer buys the unit at (you guessed it) full retail price.

    Let's see how the typical $16 CD retail price breaks down:

    • $16.00: Cost to consumer
    • $9.60: retailer (wholesale) cost
    • $4.80 to $6.40: distributor cost
    • $2.00: production cost

    But Wait!!! Most record companies are their own distributors. More profit for them.

    We see now that $0.25 (real cost) is about 1/8 of the production cost calculated here. Following the model, one CD should cost about $2.00.

    Which is still more than most of the trite crap produced these days is worth. Music isn't a cash cow, it's a cash herd.

    • It costs any record company, on average, about $0.25 to get one CD into a retail store.

      Care to share with us how you calculated that?
    • Sorry, but... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cirby (2599)
      ...your numbers are just plain wrong.

      Hell, it would cost more than a quarter just to *ship* one CD.

      Let's look at some more realistic assumptions.

      First: Let's say a "typical" CD sells 100,000 copies (they don't, on the average, but we'll go with the 100K number).

      We'll assume the band is made up of five guys.

      If they're using a good studio (not the cheap-ass garage-based kind), you're looking at $10,000 for studio time alone. A good producer will want to pay for a good engineer, so there's another $10,000 or
      • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday March 05, 2006 @08:09AM (#14853305) Homepage
        "So even for the "cheap" model of production, you're looking at $10 CDs."

        Impossible.

        Sony BMG has once-a-month sales where they ship CD's to your house at $6-7 per disk. Presumably when I buy a $6 CD, Sony is not losing money, so it suggests the cost is significantly lower than you calculate.
        • "Presumably when I buy a $6 CD, Sony is not losing money..."

          You presume wrong, or at least, you presume halfway.

          That's for a direct shot from Sony to you, without the middleman, getting rid of excess inventory (rather than throw them away, they sell them to folks like you for a cut price). These aren't "profit CDs, they're "cutting our losses" CDs.

          Those $6 to $7 CDs are part of the *costs* of the expensive ones (where they make the profit that they don't make on the cheap "get them out of the warehouse for
      • Mod parent up. I doubt many here have much idea of what a record company does and how much it costs, and this post sums it up neatly.
      • By your "calculation", that means that basically NOTHING could cost less than $10 retail. Last I checked, I can buy some things that are considerably larger than a CD, for under $10, and these things have much higher production costs (ie: furniture).

        1) Labels do not charge themselves for studio work of any type. They have people on salary for this stuff. They charge the *band* for these things, and put the band into debt from the start. This is part of their contract practices that ensures that the band
        • "It costs significantly less than $0.25 to ship a CD, as in around a tenth of that."

          Really? Put fifty of them in a box and ask UPS if they'll ship it across the country for $1.25. With a ten pound package, shipping UPS ground, regular pickup, you're looking at about *eight times* that, not even considering the costs of assembling the order, putting it all in the package, having someone deal withe the UPS paperwork, or billing.

          The rest of your numbers come from similar (really, really flawed) assumptions a
      • Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

        The "product" costs $2.50 to get out of the factory to the distributor. That sounds reasonable, I'll buy those prices.

        I don't buy two more doublings from there to the stores. If there's 300% profit between the distributor and the public, then someone's going to come in and buy from the distributor and ship directly to their stores, and sell them for $5.00.

        If you can't do that, because none of the distributors will sell direct to retail, then guess what... that's price fixing.
  • by porkface (562081) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @04:45AM (#14853001) Journal
    Where was this investigation a decade ago when it was price fixing and racketeering of the music printing and distribution business that resulted in $18 CDs as the cost of doing business and bringing the product to market declined?

    It's funny too because all the clean-up this investigation could possibly lead to won't save the labels of the RIAA. They long ago crossed the line, laughed, and STILL refuse to acknowledge their misdeeds. It's a good thing consumers aren't suffering their tyranny anymore.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @04:45AM (#14853004)
    Don't they realise that 90% of albums make a loss?! That marketing and distribution is incredibly expensive? That the few artists who do make a profit essentially provide a subsidy so the record companies can go out and find new talent?

    Do these busybodies not grasp that record company executives need to have two new luxury cars every year?

    Do they not realise that by the time you've bribed DJs all around the world to play your music rather than the interesting demo some promising new band sent them, there's only enough money left for bonuses in the region of $20 million/year? How can record companies hope to continue attracting the best chief executives if they can only pay $20million in bonuses?
    • Re:How dare they! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by porcupine8 (816071)
      Whatever, they don't have to bribe the DJs. They just talk to one guy at Clear Channel, and suddenly hundreds (thousands?) of DJs across the country are told they must play this single once every three hours.
  • CDs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tooth (111958) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @05:04AM (#14853028)
    I don't care about price fixing of music downloads. Look at price fixing of physical CDs instead. How can a music CD cost the same as a movie DVD? And while they're at it, make them use the true CDROM standard, without drm hacks.
    • Re:CDs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stunt_penguin (906223) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @05:54AM (#14853092)
      "How can a music CD cost the same as a movie DVD?"

      I also find it strange that a music CD can cost pretty much the same- a movie will cost tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of euros to produce, but retails for about 26 if you're lucky, and a new album costs much, much less to produce (oh, say 2 million if you're an absolutely huge band and spend like 2 years on it) and costs nearly 20 or so to buy.

      That said, the cinema run pays for most of the costs of movie production, though not as often as you'd think, and by the time something makes it to HMV they're just making profit on something that a lot have people have paid 9 to see once, without taking a copy home, and with some idiot texting someone on the phone 5 seats to your left. At the same time, I still love going to the cinema and ( I went last night ) and don't begrudge a good movie a good profit.
       
      • I also find it strange that DVDs and CDs cost the same. I rarely watch a DVD more than two or three times, while I listen to CDs tens or hundreds of times.

        I guess that's why I now buy CDs and rent DVDs.

      • The dispartity is far more pronounced in the US, where 20 year-old "bargain value" CDs at most retailers are US$10-12, while 20 year-old bargain DVDs are $5-8. Even new, most movies are in the $15-20 range, while most albums are in the...$15-20 range.

        It seems unlikely to me that a Sony-BMG spends more on marketing a CD than Universal spends on marketing a movie (unless it's Serenity, apparently).

  • Cash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nighty5 (615965) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @05:17AM (#14853040)
    1) Cold hard cash will be transfered under "campaign contribution" from the mysterious Big Four to the US Attorney General.

    2) Investigation will reveal nothing.

    3) Profit!
  • Investigations.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by novus ordo (843883)
    Anybody notice whenever something happens an investigation is started and you never hear about it again?
    • Re:Investigations.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cnerd2025 (903423)

      It's not exactly a coincidence: the media has the shortest attention span there is. Legitimate stories are shunned in favor of the ridiculous. See, the media seems to think that we want to hear the most shocking stories, yada yada. The truth is--and all aspects of "entertainment" can listen to this--the truth is that the media and the entertainment industry are in a business that is not predictable, therefore is not inherently profitable. Hence, media and entertainment attempt to change that aspect, but whe

  • by Spy Hunter (317220) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @07:26AM (#14853217) Journal
    I don't see how price fixing can even be *defined* in the music market. The entire industry is built on government-granted monopolies (copyright). Supply is infinite; competition is crippled; prices are arbitrary even in the absence of any shady dealings.

    Even if the attorney general did decide to take some action, it would undoubtedly be some slap-on-the-wrist fine or equally ineffective measure. Nobody seems to ever consider doing something that might be effective. In this case, the problem is at its root caused by the government-granted monopoly of copyright. No copyright, no problems! If the government is unhappy with the copyright monopolies they have created, why not strike the problem at its root and weaken the copyrights of those who abuse them?

    This would work not just on music companies but on any business built on copyright; for example software businesses such as Microsoft. Instead of a fine, simply slash the duration of copyright on the company's assets, or even release some portion of them to the public domain immediately. This would not only serve as a deterrent to future abuses; it would actually reduce their *ability* to commit abuses in the present, and it would measurably benefit the public as well.

    • [why not strike the problem at its root and weaken the copyrights of those who abuse them?]

      Bam! Finally someone who sees what I see on this. (check my other posts.)

      You price fix, you lose your copyrights. (If you are not gonna take them away completely, but just reduce the term, you should include a period right now when they are not enforceable. Immediate punishment as it were.)

      As I have been saying for a long while, there are no free markets in goods protected by copyrights and patents.

      (With the possible
  • The price of mainstream DRM-less downloaded music is still infinity.

    (The various attorney generals should just stay out of it at this point; they're a few dacades late to the game. There were two monopolies and they're both getting broken. Distribution, of course, was broken about five years ago with the widespread availability of broadband. The second, airplay, is in the process of being broken with the advent of satellite radio. It'll further get broken when/if they finally come out with EVDO Internet radios.)
  • Cardinals are conducting an investigation whether or not the pope is Catholic. Results might depend on the question whether he wants to be or not.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AG: Did you four callude to raise the price of music?

    EMI: ahhh, no.
    Sony: no.
    BMG: er, no?
    Warner: what was the question again? oh, yeah, definetly not.

    AG: Well, that settles that, sorry for the inconvenience. BTW, hot dogs and hamburgers at my place tonight.
  • I Seem to Recall... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday March 05, 2006 @02:48PM (#14854308) Homepage Journal
    Another price fixing invesigation of the music industry a couple of years back. If memory serves me correctly, the music industry got a slap on the wrist at the time, the price of a new CD didn't drop and the industry came up with (Apparently legal) new and interesting ways to expose millions of computers on the Internet to malicious intruders in the name of protecting their franchise.

    Come to think of it, the DOJ antitrust investigations really aren't what they used to be at all. When they smacked down IBM, they put the fear of God into the company! For decades after that IBM bent over backwards to obey the terms of their agreement with the department. Ever since then though, it seems like all the companies that get investigated and found guilty of anti-competitive behavior just shrug it off and keep doing what they were doing before.

    I don't know when exactly the DOJ lost the ability to scare the living hell out of a company like they did with IBM, but I think they need to get that ability back. Otherwise they're just wasting my tax dollars. I think the best way to do that is to make a particularly brutal example of the next company they investigate. What? You say it's the music industry? Well... OK then! Get to it, guys!

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