Just beat it, that's what Europe's independent music labels are telling European Union antitrust watchdogs who have waved through Sony's (SNE - Get Report) buyout of a music publishing joint venture from the Estate of Michael Jackson.
Sony/ATV is the world's largest music publisher with a catalog of more than three million copyrights, spanning songs from The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Queen and the Rolling Stones to contemporary artists such as Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Lady Gaga.
The European Commission unconditionally approved Sony's $750 million deal this week after a routine Phase 1 investigation, saying that Sony's buyout of Sony/ATV Music Publishing "would have no negative impact on competition in any of the markets for recorded music and music publishing" in the European Economic Area.
"In particular," it said in a Tuesday statement, "the transaction will not materially increase Sony's market power vis-à-vis digital music providers compared to the situation prior to the merger.
The deal, unveiled in March, will give the buyer full ownership of Sony/ATV more than 20 years after establishing the music publishing company with Jackson through a joint venture in 1995, coincidentally the same year that Jackson's HIStory album was released.
Now Impala, the Brussels-based lobby group representing 4,000 European independent music labels and national associations, wants to re-write history as it considers appealing the EC's merger approval.
"This decision is clearly wrong," said Helen Smith, Impala's chair, in a statement. "It goes against the EU's previous analysis of concentration in music, as well as the concerns raised during this market investigation.
She added, "We will need to read the decision in full when published to understand properly why the Commission has allowed the transaction to go ahead - there is a fundamental flaw somewhere."
Another Impala representative said via email that the organization is considering filing an appeal, saying that "clearly all options are open."
The organization - or anyone else for that matter - has about two months to decide whether to appeal to the General Court, the EU's second-highest court based in Luxembourg.
Impala had lobbied unsuccessfully for the EC to open an in-depth, Phase 2 probe in the case, arguing that the buyout was "transformative" and not a simple change from joint to sole control.
The latest development comes three years after Impala had also failed to stop the EC from allowing Universal Music Group's $1.9 billion purchase of EMI, from France's Vivendi (VIVHY) cleared by antitrust watchdogs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in September 2012.
Sony's shares were down 1.66% on Wednesday in Tokyo.