EU Sets Investigation Of Online Music Sales Pricing
September 7, 2007 at 5:45 AM (PT)
The EUROPEAN COMMISSION said WEDNESDAY it has set the date for antitrust hearings into unfair pricing of online songs through APPLE's iTUNES store for SEPTEMBER 19-20, reports CNNMONEY. In APRIL, the commission accused APPLE and record companies EMI GROUP, WARNER MUSIC GROUP, UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP and SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT of unfair online sales practices.
The accusation centered around European consumers being charged differing amounts for ITUNES songs depending on their location, in violation of European Union antitrust laws. All four companies except WARNER are appearing in front of the commission's formal hearing, granted at the request of the parties themselves, the commission said.
At present, European customers can only buy music from the iTUNES online store in their country of residence. APPLE enforces this system by requiring its customers to use credit cards issued by a local bank. In some cases, the same ITUNES song -- most of which are supplied by the various record companies -- costs different amounts in different E.U. countries. This territorial restriction limits the consumers' choice of where to buy music and at what price.
Around the time of issuing its formal charges, the commission said the recording industry, rather than APPLE and its ITUNES Store, was at the heart of the investigation. The commission added that the sale arrangements being practiced were imposed onto APPLE by record companies.
If the regulator finds evidence of an antitrust violation, it can fine the companies involved up to 10% of their annual global revenue.