The Department of Justice is investigating Big Content as details emerge of a possible cartel in operation with negotiations with Pandora. The Department of Justice has sent out CIDs (Civil Investigative Demand for Documents) to ASCAP, BMI, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing Group.
The DoJ is investigating coordination among ASCAP, BMI, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing Group and told ASCAP employees telling them to "preserve all documents.” Judge Denise Cote, said that Pandora has shown the Sony and UMPG licenses were the product of coordination between and among these major music publishers and ASCAP. She said that Sony and UMPG justified their withdrawal of new media rights from ASCAP by promising to create higher benchmarks for a Pandora-ASCAP license and then did just that.
Cote wrote that because Sony and UMPG were against Pandora, and they coordinated their activities to block them out and their very considerable market power that each of them holds individually was magnified. She did not think that it was necessary to look at if the actions were wrong. The direct licensing deals that UMPG and Sony cut with Pandora are poor anyway. But the DoJ seems a little more concerned about the legal aspect.