Europe's independent label community is contesting European regulators' approval of the Sony BMG merger on the grounds that their decision was contradictory to EU legislation and practices.

Europe's independent label community is contesting European regulators' approval of the Sony BMG merger on the grounds that their decision was contradictory to EU legislation and practices.

Through Brussels-based trade body Impala, the independents today (Dec. 3) formally lodged their appeal with the European Court of First Instance. In the document, Impala demands that the European Commission's decision be annulled on account of "manifest errors of law, assessment and reasoning in relation to collective dominance." The trade body also contends that the merger will have a detrimental effect on the online and publishing sectors. Today's filing was tipped yesterday on Billboard.biz.

Impala argues that the EC did not exhaust all paths of inquiry into suggestions that further consolidation among major music companies would damage European culture, consumer choice and diversity.

"The Sony BMG fiasco makes Europe neither logical nor comprehensible for its citizens," comments Impala president Michel Lambot, who is also co-chairman of Belgium-based label/distributor PIAS Group. "The EU does U-turns and contradicts its own priorities. The result here is a merger which is a legal, economic, cultural and political disaster."

Impala notes that never before has the approval of a merger in the entertainment sector been appealed. Under European Union rules, an appeal on an EC decision can be filed within two months and two weeks from the date of notification of the ruling. The EC decided to authorize the merger July 19; Impala was notified Sept. 23. The trade group announced Nov. 3 that it would contest the ruling.

Sources in Brussels say Impala is asking the court for an expedited hearing that would reduce the appeals process to nine months or less.