“The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into online music pricing at the world’s major music labels, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday,” Sue Zeidler reports for Reuters. “The DOJ probe closely tracks a similar investigation by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into the pricing of digital music downloads, the sources said. One music industry source said some subpoenas may have been issued already in connection with the probe, while other labels had been tipped off that subpoenas would likely be coming in the next few days… The major record labels are Warner Music Group, EMI Group Plc, Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group and Sony BMG, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG.”
“Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes music store dominates the industry, charging 99 cents for each of the vast majority of its songs, but some music labels have indicated they want to institute variable pricing,” Zeidler reports. “The two music industry sources on Thursday said the DOJ’s probe appeared to be focused on… whether the labels colluded to set wholesale pricing for song downloads. The investigation also could be related to licensing renegotiations with Apple, maker of the wildly popular iPod digital music player, for its iTunes store, industry sources have said. Last September, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs called the music industry “greedy” for considering hiking digital download prices and warned the move could drive iPod users to piracy.”
Full article here.
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New York State antitrust probe of music labels could benefit Apple, keep 99-cents per song price tag – January 04, 2006
New York Attorney General Spitzer probes digital download wholesale pricing – December 23, 2005