EU targets Apple after stunning victory over Microsoft in antitrust case

Apple iTunes“This morning one of Europe’s highest courts handed Microsoft a stinging defeat in its hard-fought antitrust case, dismissing nearly all of the company’s appeal of a landmark 2004 decision by the EU and upholding $689.7 million in fines,” Peter Lattman blogs for The Wall Street Journal.

“The next dominator in the sights of European antitrust authorities? Apple’s iTunes. Beginning Wednesday, the EC will hold antitrust hearings into the music-pricing structure for Apple’s online store. In April, the commission accused Apple and four major record companies of unfair practices. The accusation centered around European consumers being charged differing amounts for iTunes songs depending on the country in which they buy them, in violation of EU antitrust laws. If the regulator finds evidence of an antitrust violation, it can fine the companies up to 10% of their annual global revenue,” Lattman reports.

“So why does the iTunes store charge some Europeans more than others to download a song? In an April WSJ story, Apple blamed the music companies. ‘Apple has always wanted to operate a single pan-European iTunes Store accessible by anyone from any member state,’ said an Apple spokesman. ‘We don’t think Apple did anything to violate EU law,'” Lattman reports. “An EU spokesman also blamed the record labels, two of which are owned by European companies, for this situation. He told the WSJ in April that regulators considered Apple to be more a victim than a culprit. ‘This is an arrangement imposed on Apple by the record companies,’ the spokesman said. ‘The main focus of our attention is the major record companies.'”

Full article here.

As stated above, the problem is the music cartels, not Apple.

43 Comments

  1. EU targets Apple…

    What they don’t like glossy screens either?

    Just kidding, since it’s such a joke around here.

    ‘This is an arrangement imposed on Apple by the record companies,’ the spokesman said. ‘The main focus of our attention is the major record companies.'”

    Oh good, about time the RIAA got to deal with their behind the scenes manipulations.

    Stupid labels. You can’t use Steve jobs as a proxy.

  2. Classic example of the old saying to be careful what you wish for. You wanted them to come down on Microsuck and they did. Now the consequences will be that the EU will get their grubby little socialist hands into everyone else’s business now too.

  3. The Labels set up this byzantine system to make it easier to cover their tracks while they steal revenue from the artists and other creatives.

    That’s why it’s so funny to hear them say they are fighting piracy so the creatives can be properly reimbursed when, in reality, they are fighting piracy so they can steal more money from the music makers.

  4. Apple is as much of a victim as the customers.
    The cost to maintain a store for each country compared to one Pan European store higher.
    In reality I think Apple would be happier operating one Worldwide store so, everything could be licensed globally. This would increase the available releases in every country.
    But the money grubbers don’t want this cause it reduces their control on what we listen to and watch.

  5. ‘This is an arrangement imposed on Apple by the record companies,’ the spokesman said. ‘The main focus of our attention is the major record companies.'”

    Then why is the title of this article “EU targets Apple…”
    when clearly that is not who they are targeting?

  6. “An EU spokesman also blamed the record labels, two of which are owned by European companies, for this situation. He told the WSJ in April that regulators considered Apple to be more a victim than a culprit. ‘This is an arrangement imposed on Apple by the record companies,’ the spokesman said. ‘The main focus of our attention is the major record companies.”

    So why isn’t the headline:

    “EU targets Music Labels after stunning victory over Microsoft in antitrust case!”

  7. It should be possible to purchase any track from any iTunes store in the world, no matter where you live. One thing that Apple can do that has nothing to do with labels, is to allow someone to send a gift certificate to someone in another country.

  8. Falkirk: Then why is the title of this article “EU targets Apple…”
    when clearly that is not who they are targeting?<i>

    From the article:
    <i>… In April, the commission accused Apple and four major record companies of unfair practices. …

    The bold words seem to suggest that the commission does target Apple, doesn’t it? Furthermore,
    … The accusation centered around European consumers being charged differing amounts for iTunes songs depending on the country in which they buy them, in violation of EU antitrust laws. If the regulator finds evidence of an antitrust violation, it can fine the companies up to 10% of their annual global revenue.
    Which companies? Those accused, of course. It doesn’t say “companies except Apple.”

    So, the headline is not wrong at all. Apple is being targeted even though the EU spokeperson admitted Apple to be more of a victim than a culprit.

  9. If a portion of a company contract is later proven by the law courts to involve illegal activity, then the companies cannot be taken to those same courts for violating that portion of the company contact.

    Apple need only wait until the forced country-by country label contract is illegal then set up a pan-European itunes store with common content and pricing.

  10. I find it interesting that everyone says Apple is a just an innocent victim. I guess that is true. After all, I did see that video where the head of the RIAA held a gun to Steve Jobs head while screaming that Apple will sell music across Europe for a different price in every country.

    At least that’s what it sounds like I should have seen.

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