The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Bill allowing U.S. to sue OPEC drawing renewed interest. With oil prices hitting fresh four-year highs, long-dormant proposals to allow the United States to sue OPEC nations are getting a fresh look in Congress, though they were once considered a longshot to becoming law. A U.S. Senate subcommittee on Wednesday will hear testimony on the so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, which would revoke the sovereign immunity that has long shielded OPEC members from U.S. legal action. The bill would change U.S. antitrust law to allow OPEC producers to be sued for collusion; it would make it illegal to restrain oil or gas production or set those prices – removing sovereign immunity that U.S. courts have ruled exists under current law.
U.S. Agency Considers How It Might Implement New Music Royalty Rules. As the Justice Department considers an overhaul of music royalties rules, its top antitrust enforcer said on Wednesday that regulators are considering how to minimize disruption for streaming services and other players if they move to a new system of compensating artists. The Justice Department, as part of a larger review, is reviewing two consent decrees from the 1940s that determine what digital streaming services, radio and television stations, bars and others pay Broadcast Music Inc, or BMI, and American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, to play music.
Google shows progress in addressing competition concerns, says EU’s Vestager. Google’s proposals to increase competition in online shopping are bearing fruit, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Friday, suggesting that the company may be able to avoid further fines. Alphabet Inc’s Google last year offered to allow price-comparison rivals to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms, seeking to appease regulators after the European Commission fined it a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for favoring its own service.
German antitrust watchdog eyes steps against Facebook this year. The head of Germany’s antitrust watchdog said on Monday he was “very optimistic” that his office would take action against Facebook this year after finding it had abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their consent. “We are currently evaluating Facebook’s opinion on our preliminary assessment and I’m very optimistic that we are going to take further steps, even this year, whatever this would mean,” Federal Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt told a conference on competition law in Berlin.