Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LAUNCHES INQUIRY INTO 'TOTAL MUSIC'

The U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly launched a preliminary investigation into "Total Music," an idea originally floated in October of last year by Universal Music president Doug Morris. The basic idea: build the cost of subscribing to unlimited digital music for a fixed period of time into the cost of hardware players. Under Total Music, hardware makers would essentially by subsidizing the cost of subscribing to the music service; Universal has been talking about a subscription fee in the range of $5 a month, which would add about $90 to the cost of a music player expected to be in use for 18 months. Universal has been talking with other music labels in an effort to get them to back the idea.

According to the Wall Street Journal and other sources inside the industry, Universal and Sony BMG have been contacted by the Justice Department, which is seeking information on how a Total Music service would work, since it raises the spectre of price fixing. Music labels EMI and Warner Music have not been contacted, so far as we can determine.

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