New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office is looking in to whether digital music services have engaged in illegal price-fixing.
Subpoenas have been issued to Warner Music Group Corp., as revealed in regulatory paperwork the music giant filed late last week. The
Wall Street Journal
reports that Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group have also been subpoenaed.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said that it would take months to launch a full investigation if there’s sufficient evidence to proceed.
Apple has not been named in the investigation so far, although it undoubtedly is a focal point — the company runs the most successful commercial digital music download service, the iTunes Music Store. Despite an onslaught of competitors, Apple has maintained primacy, thanks in part to its sales of iPods.
Apple has been in the crosshairs of music executives in recent months who feel that the 99 cents-per-track pricing afforded iTunes Music Store customers does not reflect the reality of the market, where some artists and songs are worth more to customers than others.