Apple announced DRM-free downloads with EMI yesterday – for an extra 20p. But even before that price hike, the EU was on its case, launching a probe into European charges and restriction of customer choice.
The powers that be in Brussels believe agreements between Apple and record companies violate EU laws by preventing users in one country buying music from a site elsewhere – action prompted by consumer body Which? after it was discovered that UK users pay a premium price for downloads.
“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,” said EU competition spokesman Jonathan Todd.
Research by Which? in 2005 found that UK users paid 79p (1.16 euros) to download a song compared with 66p (99 euro cents) in France and Germany. Apple claims it wants a uniform system, but is restricted by demands from its music partners.
The companies targeted by Brussels have two months in which to respond to the charges.