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EC goes Apple hunting – reports

One Union under iTunes

Not afraid of a challenge, the European Commission has decided to take on Apple and the major record labels at the same time.

According to reports, the EC spent the last week mailing out a handful of Statement of Objections to Apple and four as-yet-unnamed record companies. The letters document EC concerns over Apple's variable iTunes pricing in Europe. The Commission claims that Apple and the music companies have violated policies meant to stop restrictive business practices.

"Consumers can only buy music from the iTunes online stores in their country of residence and are therefore restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and consequently what music is available and at what price," EC spokesman Jonathan Todd, told Reuters.

The EC's iTunes investigation kicked off in 2005 after people started complaining that songs in France and Germany were cheaper online than in the UK.

Other European nations have expressed objections to Apple's use of DRM (digital rights management) technology and its insistence that iTunes songs be played on iPods only.

Apple issued a statement saying that it wanted a Europe-wide version of iTunes but was told by the music companies "that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us". ®

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