In the past few years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated two high-profile antitrust investigations into alleged conspiracies between high-tech companies (most prominently Apple Inc.) and companies in the media and entertainment arena. These recent DOJ inquiries recall earlier instances when the harsh light of government antitrust scrutiny forced significant modifications of entertainment business practices. Most famously, the 1948 “Paramount Consent Decree Case” barred major motion picture studios from owning the theaters exhibiting their films, the 1970 Financial Interest and Syndication (Fin-Syn) Rules barred ABC, CBS and NBC from controlling the off-network distribution of their popular TV series, and the 2000 FTC consent decree with prerecorded music publishers limited their influence over the prices charged for their music by retailers.
The latest round of DOJ antitrust scrutiny focuses on two different types of anti-competitive practices, both allegedly instigated by Apple: alleged price-fixing agreements in the electronic book (e-book) publishing business; and alleged non-solicitation and salary-suppressing agreements among employers of digital animation employees.
I write about these cases in a new article published by InsideCounsel, “The New High-Profile Antitrust Claims in Media & Entertainment to Know.”