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The Sherman Antitrust Act makes it a felony to engage in, or conspire to engage in restraint of trade; or to monopolize or attempt to monopolize interstate or international commercial activity (15 U.S.C.A. sections 1 and 2). The law imposes stiff penalties on corporations and individuals who engage in the proscribed activities, including steep fines and/or imprisonment.
The Sherman Act is also a consumer protection measure that ensures a single company will not monopolize a product, service or industry in a way that deprives consumers of a reasonable choice of whom to do business with. This enables consumers to influence the pricing of products and services by leveraging their demand among multiple competing suppliers.
Despite the important purposes of the antitrust laws, Congress has seen fit to carve out various exemptions for certain types of businesses and activities. For each such exemption, there is a rationale, the merits of which can often be debated. Among the antitrust exemptions are the following:
One of the most debated - and maligned - exemptions to the antitrust laws is the exemption for professional baseball. It is an exemption that no other professional sport enjoys. The exemption was granted to Major League Baseball in 1922 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that baseball is a sport, not a business engaged in interstate commerce, and therefore antitrust laws do not apply (Stephenson, 2001, par. 2). The effect of this decision is that "owners can act in concert on many matters that a regulated business cannot" (par. 3). ...
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