Report: Judge Rules That UMG And EMI Must Turn Over Documents Pertaining To Alleged Digital Price Fixing
April 24, 2006 at 4:49 PM (PT)
US District Court of the Northern District of CALIFORNIA Judge MARILYN HALL PATEL has ordered UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP (UMG) and EMI to turn over privileged documents after finding they may have used misleading information to convince the government to abandon a major antitrust probe, reports REUTERS.
The ruling late FRIDAY (4/21) from PATEL in SAN FRANCISCO came out of a dispute over which documents UMG and EMI should be forced to release in the ongoing copyright battle over BERTELSMANN's investment in original P2P service NAPSTER.
Prosecutors in 2001 began investigating whether music labels secretly colluded to use two joint ventures, MUSICNET and PRESSPLAY, to discourage digital downloading and protect CD sales by fixing digital music distribution terms.
During that investigation, the joint ventures and their record label parents each submitted a "white paper" to the DOJ summarizing their arguments. The companies also provided documents that included redacted sections to remove privileged material.
Citing no evidence of wrongdoing, the U.S. Justice Department called the probe off in DECEMBER 2003, but NAPSTER investor HUMMER WINBLAD VENTURE PARTNERS, BERTELSMANN's co-defendant in the NAPSTER lawsuit, charged that the arguments offered in the white papers were known to be false or misleading.
In the ruling, PATEL said HUMMER WINBLAD provided reasonable cause for the court to investigate whether the information in the white papers was "deliberately misleading." As a result, PATEL ordered UMG and EMI to turn over all previously held communications related to the antitrust investigation within 30 days of the order.