COLUMBIA ARTISTS MANAGEMENT INC. ET AL. v. UNITED STATES ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF
NEW YORK. No. 775.
Decided May 24, 1965.
Seymour D. Lewis and Ralph F. Colin for appellants.
Solicitor General Cox, Assistant Attorney General Orrick, Lionel Kestenbaum and Elliott H. Moyer for the United States, and Theodore R. Kupferman for appellee Summy-Birchard, Inc.
The motion to affirm is granted and the judgment is affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, MR. JUSTICE STEWART, and MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG, dissenting.
An examination of the proceedings in this case convinces us that a summary disposition of this matter is not appropriate.
In 1955 the Government brought an antitrust action against appellant Columbia, appellant Community Concerts. Inc. (Columbia's wholly owned subsidiary), and two corporations whose successor is appellee Summy-Birchard, Inc. * Columbia and Summy-Birchard manage professional concert artists, and their affiliates, Community and the Civic Concert Service division of Summy-Birchard, are "concert services," organizing and maintaining [381 U.S. 348, 349] local nonprofit "audience associations" throughout the country which sponsor concert series. Normally an audience association pays an artist an established fee set by the artist and his manager, out of which the artist's manager retains a share and the concert service also retains a share known as the "margin." The Government's complaint charged a conspiracy to monopolize the business of managing and booking concert artists and the business of forming and maintaining audience associations.
On October 20, 1955, a consent decree was entered by the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the terms of which provide that the managing companies must make their artists available to all concert services at the same rate and that the concert services must make performers available to audience associations without reference to the management of the artists. Paragraph VI (D) of the decree requires that each defendant make available "to any financially responsible concert service any artist managed by such defendant and reasonably available for the desired performance, at the same margin allowed to the defendant or its affiliate concert service by that artist for a performance for the same fee."
Columbia's standard contract with concert services contains a provision, which Columbia argues is required by a collective bargaining agreement among managers and the concert artists' union, prohibiting a concert service from booking an engagement at less than the artist's established fee without the consent of the artist. After Summy-Birchard protested against signing contracts containing this provision on the ground that it constituted illegal resale price maintenance, Columbia petitioned the District Court on July 18, 1963, for a construction of the 1955 consent decree, alleging in part that the decree specifically sanctioned this contract provision and thus insulated it from attack by a party to the decree. The Government and Summy-Birchard were joined as parties. The [381 U.S. 348, 350] District Court held that this contract provision prevented competition among concert services, for it required all of them to be paid the same "margin" for each artist, and concluded that such a provision was illegal. After re-argument, the District Court reaffirmed its prior opinion and stated in its final order:
In our view there is substance to Columbia's contention that the District Court modified the 1955 consent decree. As we read the District Court's opinion, that court held that the 1955 decree affirmatively sanctioned the use of the contract provision, and then went on to modify the decree, invalidating that portion of the decree which permitted Columbia to include the provision at issue in its contracts. The District Judge stated in his original opinion:
We believe that the modification of a previously entered consent decree under the circumstances present here raises [381 U.S. 348, 352] substantial questions of law. This Court has held that a consent decree ordinarily may not be modified without the consent of the parties involved. In United States v. Swift & Co., 286 U.S. 106 ,119, Mr. Justice Cardozo stated for the Court: "Nothing less than a clear showing of grievous wrong evoked by new and unforeseen conditions should lead us to change what was decreed after years of litigation with the consent of all concerned." See United States v. International Harvester Co., 274 U.S. 693 ; Ford Motor Co. v. United States, 335 U.S. 303 . While the Court has allowed modifications in consent decrees upon occasion, see Chrysler Corp. v. United States, 316 U.S. 556 ; cf. Hughes v. United States, 342 U.S. 353 , a showing of changed circumstances is usually necessary. Whether a modification of the consent decree was proper in this case, where no changed circumstances were claimed, should not be determined by this Court summarily. Additionally, the District Court's determination that Columbia's contract provision constitutes resale price maintenance prohibited by the Sherman Act, 26 Stat. 209. raises substantial issues of antitrust law which we believe also ought to be briefed and argued.
Apart from what has already been said, there is another reason why this case should not be dealt with summarily. If the District Court's action is not viewed as a modification of the decree, but rather as a determination that the decree neither specifically sanctioned nor prohibited Columbia's contract provision, the court's judgment must be viewed as a declaratory judgment that Columbia's conduct violated the Sherman Act. In that event no appeal lies to this Court, for the Expediting Act, 32 Stat. 823, as amended. 15 U.S.C. 29, allows direct appeals to this Court only in civil actions "wherein the United States is complainant." If appellant is appealing from a declaratory [381 U.S. 348, 353] judgment, this case should be transferred to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. If the Court is holding by its action that the case is properly here because of the fact that the 1955 action was commenced by the Government, then the case raises substantial questions as to the scope of the Expediting Act which should be resolved only after plenary consideration. See Shenandoah Valley Broadcasting, Inc. v. ASCAP, 375 U.S. 39 .
We would therefore "postpone jurisdiction" and set the case for argument.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
[ Footnote * ] Summy-Birchard is successor to both the National Concert and Artists Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Civic Concert Services, Inc.