Does the U.S. have anti-trust laws? | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 29, 2009

Does the U.S. have anti-trust laws?

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 7:12 AM

I ask the headline question because, under the Bush administration, there wasn't much evidence of it.

The subject is current because of news leaking out about hush-hush meetings of newspaper moguls, perhaps to figure out a way to start charging for access to web content. Writes Ben Sheffner (inaccurately attributed originally):

All but a few newspapers currently give away their Web content for free. Many would like to start charging but are afraid that if they're the first to make the leap, their readers will abandon them for the remaining free alternatives. One obvious solution would be for them to agree to make a collective leap behind a pay wall.

But such an agreement would be blatantly illegal, says Kenneth Ewing, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson who, as head of his firm's antitrust practice, advises corporations on how to stay out of trouble. "It's Antitrust 101. If you're a competitor of another company, you violate federal and state law if you agree on the price or the general terms on which you are willing to compete."

Somehow, the Ark. Times wasn't invited to the confab. Free yesterday; free today; free tomorrow. That's our position. (Cue wisecracks.)

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