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Apple faces EU antitrust probe into iTunes

[JURIST] The European Commission [official website] is investigating Apple's iTunes [JURIST news archive] to determine if sales restrictions based on the buyer's country of residence violate EU antitrust laws, according to a commission statement confirming the probe [press release] Tuesday. Music buyers in Europe are currently only able to download songs or albums from the iTunes store in their own country, which the commission says restricts buyers in terms of what music is available and the cost of each purchase. Depending on where in Europe the buyer lives, music prices can vary by as much as $0.24 for a single song. A spokesman for Apple [corporate website] said Monday that the company would like to make the costs and availability to Europeans uniform across the 27-nation EU, but music labels and publishers have limited Apple's rights in Europe.

Apple could face significant fines if found in violation of EU antitrust [JURIST news archive] laws. The company has two months to respond to a letter from the European Commission containing questions about its iTunes sales practice in Europe. Last year, France passed legislation [JURIST report] allowing French regulators to force Apple to make its iPod player compatible with songs downloaded from other Internet music stores, and downloads from its iTunes service compatible with other players. Similar legislation has been proposed in Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Poland. AP has more.

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