BULLSHIFT! Everyone's afraid to talk prices. Everyone says "oh, we can't talk prices because of anti-trust laws." Again, I say, BULLSHIFT! Wikipedia has a pretty decent outline of price-fixing:
Under U.S. law, price fixing is only illegal if it is intentional and comes about via communication or agreement between firms or individuals. It is not illegal for a firm to copy the price movements of a de facto market leader called price leadership, which has been seen to be the case in markets for breakfast cereals and cigarettes. But informal agreements or unspoken agreements to fix price also can violate the antitrust laws.Folks at the Art Publishers Association outline that "...lower courts have found that if the goods at issue are not fungible and there continues to be competition in other areas, such as quality, experience, and service, the exchange of price information does not violate the federal price-fixing statutes. For example, one court found that the exchange of pricing information between school portrait photographers was not an antitrust violation, since there was no agreement on prices and there was strong evidence of competition in other areas such as quality and service."
sound like us? Quite definitively it looks to me!
Carolyn E. Wright, over at The Photo Attorney says that photographers seeking advice "... sometimes will solicit this information on web forums only to be told that activity is illegal. But is it? It depends. Asking other photographers what they charge for their services is not illegal. ...if you continually ask other photographers what they charge and then adjust your pricing to match theirs, your conduct probably is illegal. ...If you ask others what they charge so that you don't price yourself out of the market or charge too little, then you probably aren't breaking the law. But it's best to check your competitors' pricing rarely and not automatically use it as an excuse to change your prices to match theirs. "
I submit that with the number of photographers, and almost infinite style-types that exist, it is near impossible to make a valid claim of price fixing. Further, discussions on chat boards and listservs - especially public ones - diminish the argument that any dialog that took place was in secret, one of the tenants of the law that precludes price-fixing. A public discourse, among fellow photographers, I submit, would be a long shot at making a case for an anti-trust violation because it wouldn't meet the tests that there was an "agreement" nor one that was "secret".
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