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Background: Today reports surfaced that European antitrust authorities have voted to approve the proposed merger between the major record labels Universal Music Group (UMG) and EMI, with divestitures. The European Commission's final decision on the merger is expected to be made later this month. Previous reports indicate UMG will be required to sell global rights to Parlophone (except for the Beatles' catalog), Chrysalis, and Sanctuary, among other labels.
The Daily Mail's report on the advisory council's vote may be found here.
Public Knowledge's testimony to the U.S. Congress opposing the merger may be found here.
The following statement may be attributed to Jodie Griffin, Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
"UMG's concessions in Europe do not lessen the Federal Trade Commission's responsibility to remedy the serious harms threatened by this merger in the US music market, and to either block the merger entirely or demand even stronger concessions that will protect competition.
"The FTC must do more to protect competition in the market for digital music distribution. Without divesting larger holdings like Capitol Records or the Island Def Jam Music Group, UMG's concessions in Europe will do little to combat its incentive and power to stifle innovation among digital music services after buying EMI.
"The European Commission was right to give this merger careful scrutiny and order substantial concessions appropriate for the European music market. However, the European market is very different from the US market, and the FTC's review of the merger is distinct and independent from the European review.
"The U.S. is home to the largest music market in the world and to many innovative new technology companies, whose success would be threatened by a major label with veto power over all new digital music platforms. The FTC must ensure that this merger does not empower one company to dictate the future of digital music services in the U.S."