Supreme Court Refuses to Red Light Antitrust Case Against Music Labels

Paul Lilly

"Suck it up, buttercup, you're going to have to defend your actions." The Supreme Court didn't word things that it way, but it might as well have when it refused to review a ruling that reinstated an antitrust lawsuit accusing major record labels of conspiring to fix song prices, Reuters reports .

The lawsuit, filed by a group of music buyers, alleges that several record companies (including EMI Group, Sony, Universal Music Group, and Warner) agreed to set a wholesale price floor of around 70 cents per song when competitors started to sell music online for lower prices.

In addition, the suit claims shenanigans on MusicNet and Pressplay, a pair of services the record labels started way back in 2001 to sell songs online.

"All defendants signed distribution agreements with MusicNet or Pressplay," the lawsuit contends . It goes on to say that the labels "sold music directly to consumers over the Internet through these joint ventures. Both the joint ventures and the (RIAA) provided a forum and means through which defendants could communicate about pricing, terms, and use restrictions. To obtain Internet Music from all major record labels, a consumer initially would have had to subscribe to both MusicNet and Pressplay at a cost of approximately $240 per year."

The case was dismissed in 2008, but an appeals court ruled that the federal judge involved erred in doing so, a decision upheld by Supreme Court justices refusing to review the case.

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