[JURIST] The US Justice Department [official website] has launched an investigation into possible price-fixing of music downloads by major label record companies, according to Department sources. The Department has already issued subpoeanas to four major record labels: EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner Music. Federal officials are attempting to discern whether the labels are conspiring to keep the wholesale price of downloadable music artificially high, which in turn drives up the retail price of the tracks once they are available to consumers through online outlets such as Apple's iTunes store [corporate website].
Although the Justice Department has not released an official announcement of the probe, details provided Thursday suggest that the investigation is similar to an inquiry [Reuters report] launched by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [official website] last year. The Guardian has more.