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Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 10 News List

EU competition regulators probe iTunes online store

AP , LONDON

EU regulators are investigating Apple Inc's iTunes online music store for possible violation of competition rules, a British newspaper reported on Monday.

The Financial Times said Apple and several major music companies had been sent a "statement of objections" alleging that the deals underpinning the sale of music through iTunes in Europe might violate competition rules.

The newspaper said that the European Commission had sent a letter outlining the accusations to Apple and "major record companies" including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music and EMI Group PLC.

The newspaper said the charges centered on the fact that, in Europe, iTunes prohibits users in one country from downloading music from a Web site intended to serve another.

It quoted a spokesman for EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes as saying that Apple's agreements restricted music sales "in the sense that consumers can only buy music from the iTunes store in their country of residence" -- a possible violation of the EU's rules against restrictive business practices.

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