By Richard Menta 4/3/07
Regulators for the European Union launched an investigation this week that is based on accusations of unfair pricing at Apple's various iTunes stores in Europe. The issues is about cross-border sales, where iTunes users are forced to purchase tracks from the countries where they reside. The problem is the prices per track are different in each country when exchange rates are calculated. For example, in the UK consumers pay £0.99 or $1.56 US. In Germany and Brussels consumers also pay 0.99, but in Euro which equals $1.32 US. The union accuses Apple and the record labels that supply it of unfair pricing practices, acts they say violate European antitrust laws.
``The very fact that you are unable to buy the same tune for the same price or you are unable in some cases to buy the same tune at all is a problem for us,'' said commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd.. ``This is an arrangement that is imposed on Apple by the major record companies.'' If Apple and the record labels lose, they can be fined up to 10% of revenues.
In a statement Apple said that is contractually bound by the record labels
to create separate iTunes stores. ``Apple has always wanted to operate a single,
pan-European iTunes store 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,''
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