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Apple denies violating EU laws

updated 05:50 pm EDT, Tue April 3, 2007

Apple denies EU claims

Apple has denied claims that it breached European Union laws regarding the pricing of songs on its iTunes Store, following a 'statement of objections' that was sent to the Cupertino-based company as well as several unnamed major music labels -- which are believed to be the "big four" known as EMI Group, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony BMG. "We don't believe Apple did anything to violate EU law," Apple said. "We will continue to work with the EU to resolve this matter," the company added. The Financial Times reports that the big four record labels are understood to be included in the antitrust probe. The primary argument behind the probe centers around the fact that consumers are limited to purchasing music from the local iTunes site in their own country, which effectively limits consumer choice of where to buy tracks and what music is available at a given price, according to AFX.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. l008com

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    yeah

    Its a shame apple prevents users from buying CDs and then loading those CDs into iTunes, and in turn into their iPods. Oh wait, they don't prevent you from doing that. So STFU.

  1. Clive

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: yeah

    Wrong issue, the European Commission has already stated that, at the current time, it is not interested in investigating iTunes bought recordings being tied to Apple hardware. It seems even less likely that the EC will look into this given the new deal between Apple and EMI.

    This investigation is about Apple charging different prices to consumers in the UK and Denmark, compared to those in the Eurozone. For example iTunes in the UK cost GBP:0.79, in the Eurozone they are the equivalent of GBP:0.66. This isn't merely the difference in prevailing VAT rates.

    Additionally, Apple is preventing customers in one country buying iTunes from any of the other EU iTunes stores - this is the main thing that the EC will look into.

    While it may seem odd to you, EU regulations stipulate that countries within the EU are to be treated as a single market - and that consumers must have equal access to them.

    What Apple is doing right now is equivalent, in EU terms, to preventing someone in New Jersey placing an order at an Apple Store based in New York, and then charging the person in New Jersey extra for the privilege of buying in their home state.

    I think, even in the good old USA, that would be frowned upon?

    What was it you were saying about STFU?

  1. I.P. Freely

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: re: yeah

    That is all good and fine, except you really have no idea what you are stating is true.

    What you are stating is your opinion.

    You do not deal with music company and their team of attorney. You do not deal with individual country and their copyright law. You do not have to deal with any of these issues, so I say to you STFU before stating what you think as truth.

    The reality of it is that you as a person have no idea what the deal is.

  1. McDave

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: re: re: yeah

    OK, I'm confused...

    UK iTunes cost 79p - True Current iTunes international restrictions via credit card security - True Current iTunes restrictions in conflict with EU legislation - Opinion

    i.p.freely falling on his/her sword by applying a generic concept whilst ignoring specific facts in the previous comment - True

    McD

  1. McDave

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Move on..

    Apple should use this to move forward with EMI (others should follow) to globalise music release not just standardise in the EU.

    I'm unsure if restricting iTunes TV shows in the EU (where DVDs are being sold) is legal either.

    McD

  1. I.P. Freely

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: re: re: re: yeah

    Sorry if I confused you...

    But the gist of the Clive's message was that it is an unfair business practice by Apple that is being perpetrated upon the EU community.

    Prices, restriction (which is not what I am saying is an opinion) are there for a reason...

    I don't know the reason why price is higher in UK vs EU, maybe Apple has to pay more in UK, we don't know.... Why can't you buy from different store, maybe the artist gets paid different loyalty depending on country it is sold in. Again, we don't know.

    Does EU have an unified copyright laws... and is this applied equally across the the whole system? Again, again there are lot of questions that we do not have answers to.

    So it is wrong for Clive to make his simplified statement based on his own conjecture.

    If EC feels that it is unfair, let them investigate it and get the facts. How would any of us know if this business is fair or not without all of the facts... hence my reasoning of STFU.

  1. walafrid

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    eh?

    I agree that we should be cautious before wading into this discussion without being in the full possession of the facts, but somethings can't just be dismissed as 'opinion'.

    First, Apple does prevent you from buying in the iTunes store of another country. And yes, there is no restriction on the sale of good between EEC states. But there are some questions: do iTunes purchases count as 'goods'? Is Apple doing anything illegal?

    The different prices in EEC states is not illegal, and as far as I can work out, the original Which? report was saying that consumers are being restricted in their choices. Which is true. But on what basis is that restriction? That is, surely, what the pending investigations by the EU authorities are going to decide upon.

  1. Clive

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Let's get some things…

    …straight

    First, I'm not saying that Apple doesn't have agreements with different copyright holders in different countries - it's obvious that they can.

    Second, I'm not saying that Apple can't sell iTunes in the UK for twice what it sells them in the Eurozone - if it really wants to.

    But, what it cannot do, by EU regulation (and this has been proven in a number of test cases in the European Court of Justice), is prevent people in one EU state buying "things" in another EU state.

    While that is an opinion, it's an informed opinion, not one that I just pulled out of my arse.

    As to trying to distinguish between "goods", Walafrid, and "services", you're on a loser there - because the single market is supposed to guarantee the free movement of goods, services and people.

    Does the EU have unified copyright laws? In a way, yes it does, because the laws of each state have to be compliant with the requirements of directives of the European Commission (who will run the investigation into Apple/iTunes).

    I think some degree of knowledge of the laws and institutions of the EU is required to comment in an informed manner in this thread - most of you are just making sure the rest of us know you don't have such knowledge.

  1. walafrid

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    thank you

    Clive, thanks for clearing up that 'goods' and 'services' are equivalent in this discussion. It's a distinction I've already seen made many times in discussions on this topic, and it's good to know the real position. But again I say, let's wait to see the direction these investigations actually take.

    I for one submit that, though (or perhaps especially because) I live in the UK, I have limited knowledge of consumer rights legislation made by the EU; I wish more people in general would practice patience when discussing these kinds of issues. Often, as you say Clive, we merely expose the inadequacies of our own knowledge.

  1. ender

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Rollout

    If I remember correctly, iTunes was not rolled out to the entire EU at the same time; but rather one or two countries at a time. That suggests that for some reason Apple was forced to negotiate licensing deals on a per-country basis. Why? Different copyright laws in different countries, restrictions placed on it by the record labels on a per country basis, issues with credit card authorization rules, having to deal with different distributors (license holders) in each country, etc.

    It certainly would not make sense (from an efficiency standpoint) for Apple to have done it this way. Having a single store for the entire EU would likely make the most sense for Apple. So something must have prevented them from doing that. What that something is will have great bearing on how this plays out.

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