- Title: BELGIUM/FILE: EU charges record companies, Apple on record sales
- Date: 4th April 2007
- Summary: (BN11) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (RECENT - MARCH 2007) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN FLAGS FLYING
- Embargoed: 19th April 2007 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz,Industry
- Reuters ID: LVA89RAYI8UR3Q42TWWSXNV0B803
- Story Text: A European Commission spokesman said in Brussels on Tuesday (April 3) that agreements between Apple and major record companies violate the European Union's rules that prohibit restrictive business practices.
"The fact that you cannot buy music from an iTunes store other than the store for your country of residence, combined with the price differential and the fact that you can't buy the same tunes in all the iTunes shops, amounts to restricted business practice," said Jonathan Todd, European Commission spokesman.
The Commission's probe grow out of a 2005 complaint by the British consumer group Which?. Todd says iTunes purchasers in France and Germany need pay only 99 euro cents (1.32 US dollars) for each song they download, compared with the higher 79 British pence (1.56 US dollars) paid by those living in Great Britain.
Apple said it wanted to offer a pan-European store but was hemmed in by the music companies' demands. It released a statement stating it "has always tried to operate a single pan-European iTunes stores accessible by anyone from any member state. But we were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us."
The European Commission said it has sent a Statement of Objections in the past week to Apple and unidentified major record companies.
''Apple are the operators of the iTunes stores and they are the one who have entered into these restrictive agreements with the major record companies. But it is true that the main focus of our attention is the major record companies which I cannot name,'' Todd added.
The world's four major record companies are Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group and Warner Music Group.
The move by the Commission is unrelated to a deal announced on Monday April 2, under which EMI agreed to make its music available online without anti-piracy protection, becoming the first major music group to take the risk in a bid to increase digital sales. It is partnering with Apple's iTunes on the initiative but said it will also work with other digital stores.
The European Commission's Todd said that the Commission does not allege that Apple has a dominant market position.
($1.9774 = 1 British pound)
($1.3368 = 1 euro)
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