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SCIART-L  May 2004

SCIART-L May 2004

Subject:

Re: Price fixing

From:

Britt Griswold <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 6 May 2004 14:36:30 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (200 lines)

Jim,
Very interesting and very sobering statements. Does that mean the
author of a book that published specific advice on the methods and
practices of contracts and pricing, or gave specific suggestions for
the fees to charge, could be prosecuted? Or does this apply to Trade
associations only.

The AMI is a trade association. But the GNSI is an educational
organization. And while there are many GNSI members on this list,
there are non members as well. Also the GNSI would be hard pressed to
claim ownership of this list if it came down to it.

I am not saying we should not be concerned.

But there is a difference between stating a *desire* to conduct
business a certain way and stating: I *do* conduct business in a
certain way. One is either blue-skying or collusion. The other is no
different than taking a survey and publishing the results, as noted
below in your examples as OK.

Seems like another very good reason to have a Job survey site on line
we can all contribute to, I would say. There is no way to go to the
store and see what other illustrators are charging. There has to be a
legitimate way to get that kind of information. But maybe I am being
to generous to our government.

It seems to me there are plenty of web sites out there suggesting
formulas for calculating fees, if not actual totals. I don't see why
we should be different.

Britt

P.S. I expect some argument from you... ;7)


>Jeremy said:
>"I'm sure that we can ask and tell each other what we "should" charge and
>not be in collusion... Asking what to charge by one person for one job is
>legitimate and so are the responses by a handful of the 350 or so members.
>GNSI has not and will not suggest a set
>pricing structure, so stop being so paranoid!"
>
>
>Sorry, Jeremy, but stop being so naive! You might *want* to believe this,
>but it's a fairy tale. If you don't believe me, check out the following
>links. I've copied the relevant sections for those who don't want to read
>the whole thing.
>
>**********************************************
>
>http://www.antitrust.org/cgi-bin/post.pl?view=0
>See the discussion called "Fee Discussions Online". Click on the "1 Reply"
>link.
>
>"Is it "collusion" or "price-fixing" for our members to:
>* Inquire about "going rates" or "typical rates" or rate ranges for
>specific services...
>* For members to either discuss typical fees for such services or post
>replies to such inquiries in either a public or controlled-access online
>discussion group (listserve)?
>
>Reply: The members' concerns are well founded. It would be okay to
>commission a survey of rates, the results of which would be distributed to
>members. However, the members should avoid ANY discussion of rates among
>them. That can only be a bad thing from an antitrust perspective. Any
>uniformity of rates (even though driven by normal marketplace forces) could
>allegedly be the result of collusion. Never discuss prices or terms and
>conditions of sale with your competitors."
>
>
>http://www.hwg.org/resources/faqs/priceFAQ.html
>(The HTML Writers' Guild)
>
>"1. Can Guild Members hold pricing discussions in the mailing lists?
>
>The short answer: NO.
>Discussions of pricing issues are not allowed and will be cause for
>immediate removal from the list and possible revocation of your guild
>membership.
>
>* The HTML Writers Guild will not suggest or recommend fees/prices/wages,
>and is not involved in price-fixing in any manner.
>* Discussion of rates, what to charge, etc. on the list will be sufficient
>grounds for immediate unsubscription by the list administrator. Such
>discussions can lead to criminal charges; just one list member can put us
>all at risk.
>* If you don't like these policies, don't subscribe to the Guild's mailing
>lists.
>
>2. Is it illegal to discuss pricing?
>
>The short answer: YES (at least in the U.S. where many of our members are).
>The U.S. law specifically makes discussion of pricing between competitors
>(all or some) a federal offense. According to either Marshall Kragen or
>Lewis Rose (both practicing lawyers), several brokers in DC were
>successfully prosecuted for simply discussing an increase of fees at a
>dinner meeting. When, where, or how doesn't matter. Any discussion of
>pricing by a group of people within the same industry is illegal in the
>U.S. The feds call it price fixing.
>
>3. Doesn't freedom of speech allow me the freedom to say anything I want?
>
>Short answer: NO
>Use of the Guild's mailing lists is a privilege, not a right; in return for
>this privilege, you are asked to follow a few simple rules. The "freedom of
>speech" guarenteed by the U.S. Constitution only protects you from
>governmental intervention in your right to express yourself -- it doesn't
>give you free reign to use computer resources against the wishes of their
>owner. Our lawyer friends have kindly (and in self-survival) pointed out
>that the Federal Law system in the U.S. and Canada consider pricing
>discussions by professional organizations to be price fixing which is a
>federal offense. This "consideration" position has been successfully proven
>in court.
>
>4. Isn't the Guild being overly cautious?
>
>The short answer: NO.
>Guild representatives have discussed the issue at length with Barry
>Grossman of the Department of Justice, an experienced anti-trust lawyer.
>Mr. Grossman stated that the line between legal and illegal activity can be
>hard to discern, and it is more than prudent to stay clear from that line."
>
>
>http://www.antitrust.org/guidelines.html
>
>"Feel Free to join trade associations and to participate in activities that
>do not affect the vigor of your competition with your fellow members.
>Safety standards, industry-sponsored promotion of a generic product ("take
>the family to the movies"; "natural gas burns cleaner"), and other
>activities that do not diminish the intensity of your competition with
>others in the industry are perfectly acceptable. So, too, are exchanges of
>information that do not affect prices in future transactions. But beware of
>meetings with competitors that result in discussions of business tactics,
>customers, costs, and ultimately prices. Be on guard at all times at trade
>association functions; leave if the meeting turns to what might be
>construed as price-fixing or market sharing."
>
>**********************************************
>
>As I said in an earlier post, the AMI forbids discussion of pricing on its
>listserv. Here's the relevant passage from the listserv rules (which I
>wrote, after discussion with our management association and an attorney).
>It's loosely based on a similar set of rules from the American Society of
>Association Executives:
>
>"Messages are not to be posted if they encourage or facilitate members to
>arrive at any agreement, which either expressly or implicitly leads to
>price fixing, restraint of trade, or a boycott of another's business.
>Messages which encourage or facilitate an agreement about the following
>subjects may be inappropriate: prices, pricing strategies, discounts, or
>terms or conditions of sale; salaries; profits, profit margins or cost
>data; market shares, sales territories, or markets; allocation of customers
>or territories; or selection, rejection or termination of customers or
>suppliers. The AMI refuses to facilitate or participate in, and disavows
>any discussions or actions, which promote the above activities."
>
>
>Sorry for the long rant, but I think it's important for us to recognize the
>each of us is an independent businessperson and we have the same rights
>(and responsibilities) as any other business. This isn't just some club
>where we get together and chat over coffee. This is a professional
>association which represents a large group of independent contractors who,
>despite our common interests, are in competition with one another. Perhaps
>if we all adopted a more business-like attitude, we'd command more respect
>in the marketplace.
>
>Jim
>
>___________________________________________________________
>
>James A. Perkins, MS, MFA, CMI
>Assistant Professor of Medical Illustration
>College of Imaging Arts and Sciences
>Rochester Institute of Technology
>Bldg. 7A, Room 3415
>73 Lomb Memorial Drive
>Rochester, New York 14623
>
>RIT office: 585-475-2443
>RIT fax: 585-475-6447
>
>Studio: 585-226-8149
>Studio fax: 585-226-6965
>
>[log in to unmask]


--
_______________________________________
Britt Griswold/WMAP Project
Infonetic/Maslow Media Group
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 685 Bldg. 21 Rm 063
Greenbelt, MD 20771-0001
(301) 286-3381
(301) 286-1617 FAX
(301) 286-7230 FAX
[log in to unmask]
http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov

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