The European Commission yesterday closed its probe of Apple, which was under inquiry for charging British users of its digital music store iTunes more than other EU citizens. The decision follows an announcement by Apple that download prices would be equalised across Europe. However, it remains forbidden for non-residents to purchase from another country’s iTunes store.
Apple announced yesterday that within six months it will reduce the prices of its British iTunes store and balance them with the rest of Europe. The Commission welcomed the move and announced that it does not intend to take further action in this case.
However, it remains open the bigger issue of allowing European consumers to make purchases in iTunes stores in a member state different from the one of residence. At the moment, a German or Spanish consumer cannot buy music from the French or Italian iTunes.
Apple said that this practise depends on the way music copyrights are currently negotiated in Europe. Every country has its own rules. Although the longer-term objective remains the creation of a truly single market for music download, the Commission agreed with Apple’s position and acknowledged that contracts between Apple and the ‘major’ record companies (Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music and Universal Music) are not in breach of the current EU legislation.
“Some record companies choose not to make available their content on a pan-European basis. They do so in full respect of copyright regulation. There is no violation of antitrust regulation”, Kroes’ spokesperson, Jonathan Todd, said yesterday during the Commission daily briefing in Brussels.