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Apple set for iTunes antitrust showdown

Meeting to discuss 'unfair pricing practices'

Apple and the major music labels are set for an iTunes antitrust showdown during a closed door meeting with the European Commission.

The Commission has set the date for antitrust hearings into unfair pricing practices for online music sales through iTunes for September 19 and 20.

In April, the Commission accused Apple and the majors (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony BMG) of engaging in unfair pricing for online sales.

At issue is the fact that European music fans are charged different amounts for an iTunes song depending on their location - and are not enabled to shop for music in another European territories store.

In October 2005, EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said the music industry's growth in Europe is hampered by having to negotiate rights country by country.

Apple has consistently argued that it wanted to create a single store with a single set price for Europe, but had been prevented from doing so by the major labels.

All the companies named (with the exception of Warner) will appear at the EC hearing. If the regulator finds evidence of an antitrust violation, it can fine the companies involved up to 10 percent of their annual global revenue.


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