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If music be the food of cash then Apple could be in trouble

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Apple is looking at a fine of more than £300m because it makes its customers pay more to download music in the UK than in the rest of Europe.

Apple charges 79p a song from the iTunes store and 99 euro cents in Europe, which means that British consumers pay an extra 12p. The European Commission is looking into the issue and has launched a general enquiry into the sale of downloaded music in response to a complaint made by consumer group ‘Which?’

The commission issued a statement, one clause of which said: “Consumers are restricted in their choice of where to buy music and consequently what music is available and at what price.”

It has also sent a ‘statement of objection’ to Apple and major record companies like Warner and Sony BMG over the pricing policy and, if no action is taken to remedy the complaints within two months, it could fine them 10% of their company turnover. This level of fine would amount to around £323m in Apple’s case.

The commission’s threat came to light as Apple announced it was to begin selling digital music downloads playable on all makes of MP3 player, ending its exclusive link to its iPod.

EMI has also decided to scrap the ‘digital lock’ on downloads of its music.


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