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Usa, 28 Stati fanno causa alle grandi case discografiche
"Hanno costituito un cartello per alzare i costi dei dischi"

"Prezzi dei cd troppo alti"
Le major sotto accusa

NEW YORK - Ci hanno pensato 28 Stati americani a farsi portavoce di tutti quegli amanti della musica che ritengono i prezzi dei cd troppo alti. E lo hanno fatto in maniera diretta, senza tanti complimenti: facendo causa a 5 grandi compagnie discografiche (Emi, Warner Brothers, Sony, Universal, Bmg) e a grandi negozi di dischi come MusicLand e Tower Record, portandoli davanti al tribunale di Manhattan con l'accusa di aver costituito un cartello che, subdolamente, fa pagare troppo cara la musica di Madonna, Santana e gli altri big della canzone. E così il terribile Sherman act si abbatte anche sull'industria del divertimento.

Secondo l'accusa degli Stati che si sono costituiti in giudizio le 5 major della canzone impongono con un ricatto ai commercianti dei prezzi fissati ad un livello artificialmente alto. Sotto accusa, dunque, è finita la politica delle multinazionali, quella che in gergo viene chiamata "Map" (Minimum advertised pricing) grazie alla quale le compagnie garantiscono ai negozi sussidi per la pubblicità in cambio di un impegno a non vendere i dischi ad un prezzo al di sotto di quello minimo stabilito dalle industrie.

In questo modo, sempre secondo l'accusa, vengono penalizzati i consumatori che spendono più di quanto stabilirebbe il mercato e i commercianti che, sottoposti al ricatto, non possono abbassare i prezzi. "Questa azione illegale non suona come musica alle nostre orecchie", ha ironizzato il procuratore di New York Eliot Spitzer che insieme ai suoi colleghi ritiene violata la prima sezione dello Sherman Act, la legge che regola l'antitrust americana.

Le compagnie si difendono sostenendo la loro innocenza. La Bmg, attraverso il portavoce Nathaniel Brown, si dice sicura che il "Map" è "legittimo e siamo convinti che la corte arriverà alla stessa conclusione". Anche dalla Emi annunciano una "difesa vigorosa" e ricordano un accordo raggiunto con la Commissione federale del commercio a seguito del quale, Emi ha abbandonato la politica dei prezzi sotto accusa fin dal 19 giugno scorso.

(La repubblica 9 agosto 2000)

in inglese: 
http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/music228.htm
States allege labels cheated consumers

                  NEW YORK (AP) Record companies should pay back millions of
                  dollars in illegal profits they collected by forcing discount stores to raise CD
                  prices in 1995, attorneys general for 28 states alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday.

                  "These illegal actions certainly have not been music to the ears of the public,"
                  New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said at a news conference as the
                  lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

                  The music companies maintain that they threatened to stop supplying
                  discount chains with thousands of advertising dollars in the mid-1990s
                  because the chains were selling CDs at below wholesale cost, driving some
                  record stores out of business. They indicated Tuesday that they would
                  contest the lawsuit.

                  The lawsuit comes three months after the five major music distributors, while
                  admitting no wrongdoing, settled Federal Trade Commission charges they
                  unfairly inflated CD prices.

                  Under that deal, the companies agreed to discontinue minimum advertised
                  price programs that forced retailers to sell music CDs at or above a set level
                  in return for getting substantial advertising money.

                  Spitzer said the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was meant to
                  force record companies to pay back the profits they made illegally.

                  He said he could not yet estimate the value of those profits but said the
                  $480 million estimated by the FTC sounded reasonable.

                  Keith Estabrook, a spokesman for BMG Music, said the company still
                  believed that the pricing policy "was a legitimate and appropriate practice
                  and we are confident that the courts will reach the same conclusion."

                  Will Tanous, a Warner Music spokesman, concurred, saying the pricing
                  policies served "a valid business purpose and benefited consumers by
                  substantially furthering retail competition."

                  "It was an appropriate and lawful practice," he added.

                  Dawn Bridges, an EMI Music spokeswoman, said the claims were without
                  merit. Sony Music spokesman Keith McCarthy said he had no comment,
                  while Universal Music did not immediately return a telephone message
                  seeking comment.

                  Doug Curry, a spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of
                  America, declined to comment.

                  The lawsuit by the states essentially does what the FTC promised not to do
                  in its settlement deal: seek damages for past pricing tactics. But the attorneys
                  general said they were seeking damages on behalf of the consumers they
                  represent.

                  They said the record companies in February 1995 conspired to force
                  several large discount retailers to raise prices after the retailers bought CDs
                  in such large volume that they could undercut the prevailing high retail prices.

                  "The purpose of the illegal agreements was to raise prices and reduce retail
                  price competition which threatened the high and stable profit margins for
                  CDs enjoyed by both the defendant labels and distributors and many music
                  retailers," the lawsuit said.

                  The deals initially drew vigorous protests from discount retailers but the
                  chains eventually gave up because the financial penalty for not participating
                  in the scheme was too costly, the lawsuit said.

                  As a result, CD prices stabilized and then rose, the lawsuit said.

                  Besides the record companies, the lawsuit named some large record stores
                  as defendants, including Tower Records.

                  Russ Solomon, chairman of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Tower, did not
                  immediately return a telephone message. But he scoffed at the FTC's
                  prediction earlier this year that the settlement would result in lower CD
                  prices.

                  "Prices are not coming down," he told the Los Angeles Times. "They're
                  already at rock bottom. It's outrageous to mislead music fans to think
                  otherwise."

                  According to the FTC, the five companies distribute 85% of the music CDs
                  sold in the United States, an industry that reported a record $15 billion in
                  sales last year. The average CD now costs $14 to $17. 


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