“The U.S. Justice Department has launched an inquiry into ‘Total Music,’ an approach for selling digital music that has been the subject of early discussions between major record labels and consumer electronics manufacturers, a person familiar with the inquiry said Thursday,” Alex Veiga reports for The Associated Press.
“The department sent a letter seeking more information from Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity,” Veiga reports. “The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday on its Web site that Sony BMG Music Entertainment had received a similar letter.”
“Discussions between Universal and rival record companies may have raised the potential for antitrust issues at the Justice Department,” Veiga reports.
“The idea behind Total Music involves offering music fans access to unlimited digital music for a period of time with the cost built into the price of the portable music player, mobile phone or other device,” Veiga reports. “Mobile handset maker Nokia Corp. and Universal struck a deal last year that calls for Nokia to offer a similar service sometime this year.”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Pastry Chef” for the heads up.]
Ethan Smith reports for The Wall Street Journal, “In a development that could derail a music-industry initiative that has barely reached the planning stages, the U.S. Department of Justice has begun an inquiry into a new way of selling music that Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group has proposed to its three main competitors.”
Smith reports, “Not much detail on Total Music has been proposed to the various music companies, the people familiar with the matter say, and the project has been generally viewed as an effort to create a strong competitor to Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store, which dominates digital music sales. Record labels have been unhappy with iTunes’ insistence on a single price for all songs, and have been frustrated with the mixed performance of subscription music services like that of Napster Inc.”
MacDailyNews Take: If by “mixed performance,” Ethan means “abject failure,” he’s correct.
Smith continues, “It was unclear what aspect of Total Music the Justice Department was looking into, but competing suppliers’ cooperating to set the price of a consumer product could raise antitrust issues.”
Full article (subscription required) here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Nick L.” for the heads up.]
More trouble for old man Morris.
Here’s what we wrote in our Take back on October 12, 2007: We’re left to imagine what if Apple’s Mac had the benefit of entire industries working for years on various methods of toppling Microsoft’s Windows hegemony? We guess it’s okay to build entire industries (anti-virus, for example) around Windows’ deficiencies and support Windows no matter what while ignoring or even denigrating Apple’s superior Mac solution, but when Apple creates the best player/jukebox/music store combo, then all of the two bit also-rans must be propped up with higher bit rates, lower prices, DRM-free music, etc. for everyone but Apple’s iTunes Store. Is that sort of stuff even legal? It sounds like collusion or something to us.