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EU formalises UK iTunes pricing investigation

Is Apple ripping Britain off?

The European Commission has confirmed it has launched an investigation into whether Apple is overcharging its British customers for music downloads.

A spokesman for the Commission issued a statement saying an inquiry has been started into allegations that prices for downloads from Apple's iTunes website in the UK are substantially higher than prices for similar services on the company's French and German websites.

The Commission is also examining whether UK customers are prevented from downloading the same tracks from non-UK-based sites, the statement said. Under EU competition law it is illegal to segment the pan-European market into national territories in an attempt to obtain higher prices from customers in a specific country.

The inquiry follows a complaint by UK consumers' rights organisation Which? in September 2004 that found UK iPod users were paying €1.14 per download while prices in France and Germany were €0.99.

The complaint was brought by Which? to the UK's competition authority, the Office of Fair Trading, which referred the matter in December to the Commission. Under EU law the Commission is responsible for cases with effects in more than one member state.


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