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EU Launches Antitrust Probe Into iTunes

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the equal-opportunity-headcrackers dept.

The Almighty Buck 318

Macthorpe writes "ABC News is reporting that the EU has started an antitrust probe into the way that Apple sells music on iTunes. As you can only purchase from the store of the country where your credit or debit card is registered, the price differences and availability differences between iTunes stores for different EU countries constitute a violation of EU competition laws which forbid territorial sales restrictions.'Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said Monday the company wanted to operate a single store for all of Europe, but music labels and publishers said there were limits to the rights that could they could grant to Apple. "We don't believe Apple did anything to violate EU law," he said. "We will continue to work with the EU to resolve this matter."'"

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318 comments

good old EU (-1, Flamebait)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586547)

Realizing that they cannot compete with American (or Asian) tech companies, the EU once again tries to legislate to produce home grown competition. Tools.

Re:good old EU (4, Insightful)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586557)

That should be,
Realizing that the UK is getting ripped off yet again the EU tries to do something about it

Re:good old EU (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586719)

>Realizing that the UK is getting ripped off yet again the EU tries to do something about it

You're talking about CAP [wikipedia.org] and not about itunes, aren't you?

Re:good old EU (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586983)

No the price of the Ps3

Re:good old EU (3, Funny)

peipas (809350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586609)

I prefer a free market where politicians are bought and sold through the natural will of the market.

Re:good old EU (1)

tritonman (998572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586801)

why don't they just burn the DRMed music files to an audio CD and sell those online or in stores.

Re:good old EU (1)

LinuxIsRetarded (995083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586903)

You made the same comment when the EU went after Microsoft as well, correct?

Re:good old EU (2, Informative)

mikerich (120257) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586965)

It's nothing to do with developing a competitor. Ever since the EEC was founded by the Treaty of Rome, there have been a series of binding legal agreements on member states to enforce free trade. With a few minor exceptions, it is illegal for a member state, or an organisation operating inside the EU, to create barriers against the free movement of people, goods or services. Differential pricing can be seen as an impediment to free trade between members and therefore falls under the remit of EC Law (EEC, EC and EU - yep it's complicated).

If there is thought to be a case against Apple and the record companies then the EU Commission can refer the case to the European Court of Justice for a decision. If they are found to be in breach then the EU has the power to impose penalties on the companies.

Re:good old EU (1)

bradavon (1066358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587005)

Again America is a country, Europe a continent so for starters your theory is inaccurate but even forgiving that for a second Philips (a Dutch brand) does well worldwide and even in Asia. It's got nothing to do with competition more to do with consumers being ripped off. This is very different in America where like I said it's a country so is bound not to run into the very problem this antitrust probe is looking into.

Re:good old EU (5, Informative)

bri2000 (931484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587183)

Despite how it's described in the summary and articles this isn't really an anti-trust/competition law case. It's a single market issue. The principle is that if you live in an EU state you should be able to buy goods and services on sale in any other EU state and import them to your home state without restriction (save for certain limited exemptions for reasons of public morality etc). The EU Commission has power to enforce this and, especially in the period following the Single Market Act coming into force in 1992 under Leon Brittan, was very aggressive at going after both governments and private companies who breached this principle. The number of cases dropped off as governments and companies realised that the Commission was serious about the single market and started to play by the rules.

What Apple has been doing with iTMS in Europe is so flagrantly in breach of the principles underlying the single market I'm frankly amazed it's taken the commission this long to get round to investigating them. I'd love to know who's been giving Apple their legal advice - I assume they're going to try to run an argument that they're providing a service rather than selling goods and therefore aren't caught in the single market rules - and will be very interested to see how this one turns out. We've not had a good free movement of goods case for a while...

Re:good old EU (4, Insightful)

mstone (8523) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587667)

I think you'll find that the labels are the ones that have set the regional limits and pricing standards. Apple is bound by the contracts the labels were willing to negotiate, and the labels didn't want to negotiate liberal contracts when the iTunes stores were first being set up.

Having to run multiple, mutually exclusive stores is probably a dead loss for Apple all around. There's the massive duplication of effort in making each store run and managing the inventories, there's the effort of barring people in one region from using the store for another region, and there's the dissatisfaction from customers who can't get the music they want if it's only for sale in another region.

Apple runs the iTunes store as a value-added service for the iPod. The more music that's available, and the easier the stuff is to obtain, the more value it adds. How could it possibly hurt Apple to run a single store for everyone in the world, with all the music equally availble to everyone?

Given the track records of the players in question, I doubt that an investigation will find that Apple were the ones who went to the negotiating table saying, "hey, let's waste a lot of resources and piss off a lot of customers by making a patchwork of regional stores, offering different inventories at different prices in each one, and making people in one region wait six months longer to get access to their store than their neighbors 50 kilometers away!"

Re:good old EU (1)

johnarama (1076177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587607)

What a waste of time...I buy my CDs in Germany because it's taxed less there; in France a CD is taxed as a luxury good, which is 19.6%!!

Re:good old EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587609)

Yes, tools of the people. You might try it, we find it works better than a bunch of elitist white guys.

Ah, good old Slashdot (1)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587749)

Despite the image based on what US-based news outlets report to you, the reality of things [europa.eu] might be somewhat different. EU based companies aren't getting away scot free, it just happens that sales restrictions across member state borders and blatant disregard for the law are a few of those things that the union doesn't look upon very kindly.

Once again we see the problem of the old system (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586575)

At this point, even the dinosaurs of the music and film industry HAVE to realize that the old paradigms can't hold. The old system of distribution are going to HAVE to undergo a MAJOR change in the 21st century. This includes the way music (and, probably, ALL media) is distributed to consumers (the CD is going the way of the dodo bird--face it, deal with it), the way licensing agreements are made (no more having one distribution agreement for one country, a completely different one for another), the way residuals are distributed to artists, etc.

Region coding, DRM, lawsuits...they are all just desperate ploys--putting fingers in the dike of inevitable change.

Re:Once again we see the problem of the old system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586663)

At this point, even the dinosaurs of the music and film industry HAVE to realize that the old paradigms can't hold. The old system of distribution are going to HAVE to undergo a MAJOR change in the 21st century. This includes the way music (and, probably, ALL media) is distributed to consumers (the CD is going the way of the dodo bird--face it, deal with it), the way licensing agreements are made (no more having one distribution agreement for one country, a completely different one for another), the way residuals are distributed to artists, etc.

If the new robots at the factory make you useless as a worker and you lose your job, what would you do:

1. "Deal with it" and remain unemployed.
2. Fight back.

If you look in history you'll see which way changes always happen (hint: everyone seems unable to deal with change).

When "dealing with it" means accepting you're useless and your business is lost, it's harder than you think to accept "reality".

Re:Once again we see the problem of the old system (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587331)

Good points. In fact, I remember running into this when I was in college. I used to cut tobacco in the summers for local tobacco farmers. Even then, it was obvious that there was little future in tobacco farming. But, whenever anyone pointed that out the these guys, they would immediately bury their heads in the sand and start talking about subsidies, government protections, and mythical foreign markets that were magically going to keep things exactly as they always had been. It simply never occurred to them to leave that dying business behind and look into new crops (since a new crop wouldn't pay as much, and since it would require learning to farm in a whole new way). They would rather bitch to their Congressmen, demanding protections and subsidies, than to read the writing on the wall.

EU Fines (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586583)

Oh, the EU has fined so many companies for price fixing, I don't even know where to begin--Bayer & Chemtura [iht.com] , Siemens [networkworld.com] , Dow [cfo.com] , escalator firms [bbc.co.uk] , Heineken [samba.org] , Aventis [in-pharmat...logist.com] , animal feed companies [findarticles.com] , the Deutsche Post [americanshipper.com] , many vitamin producers [foodnavigator.com] , Nintendo [buzzle.com] and, of course, the well known case of Microsoft [slashdot.org] .

I'm not saying that none of these fines are unjustified but I am saying that, if I may opine, the EU has been issuing a lot of fines. With this recent Apple one, it does seem as though Apple had no choice and if they aren't given an alternative to losing their contracts with record companies for the sake of running one Europe encompassing store, then I don't blame them. On the surface, the EU Commissions seem to be discouraging big businesses from selling things like XBoxes, PS3s or iTunes inside all of the countries. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I guess time will tell ...

Re:EU Fines (5, Insightful)

MaGogue (859961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586705)

Hmm, maybe it's the other way around .. maybe it's just the companies aren't used to play by the law.

Re:EU Fines (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586825)

Hmm, maybe it's the other way around .. maybe it's just the companies aren't used to play by the law.
That's entirely possible. I could conceive very corrupt practices being in place causing the need for these fines and that would explain the number of them immediately after the EU formed. However, I read stories about delayed launches of Xboxes or PS3s and it's all in the name of the consumer ... or is it? I mean, you could be saying, "Thank god that they're protecting the consumer from price fixing" yet the people waiting for the product just seem peeved that it's delayed. And the companies that are trying to do business don't like that one bit either.

So if the companies aren't playing by the law, fine the hell out of them. I only point out that this will probably come down to Apple sacrificing selection or release dates just to have a common price fixing scheme and the customer will get a better deal but suffer in quality of service. Should it really be up to a government commission to decide how Apple works this trade off? I honestly don't think it should be but that's just me. I think Apple had the option to work this one of two ways and now the government is making that decision for them.

It doesn't sit well with me, but I'm a fat stupid American so I guess I'm not in any place to comment.

Re:EU Fines (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586835)

Hmm, maybe it's the other way around .. maybe it's just the companies aren't used to play by the law.

Have you ever looked into the situation. It has been years since the EU ordered the different music licensing cartels across Europe to offer a single, pan-european license and those record company groups have ignored them. Now they're demanding Apple charge the same amount in different countries, when Apple pays a different amount in different countries, because the EU has done nothing about their previous edict. It is idiocy. Should Apple raise prices in some places and lower them in others to cover costs and effectively subsidize pricing in some countries with money from customers in other countries? Does anyone believe Apple will still be selling any music in poorer countries when they're forced to raise prices drastically above what CDs cost in those countries?

If the EU wants to be one big economic cluster, great. Pass some fricking laws forcing the record companies to charge one flat license fee for Europe and pass some laws requiring all EU countries to tax music the same. Then if Apple is still charging different prices (something they don't want to do in the first place) you can threaten them with legal action.

Re:EU Fines (5, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586891)

The current laws are sufficient, and if you Apple eye-glasses wasn't so narrow you have noticed that the new antitrust case is not against Apple, but against Apple and 3 music cartels.

Apple has the spin angle of claiming to work with the EU to force the music cartels to open up.

Re:EU Fines (3, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587541)

It seems to me that you have anti-Apple eye glasses. Your assumption is that Apple somehow prefers the current system and that their comments are just spin. That doesn't hold up to logic. It would be far simpler for Apple if they could run a single European store. Having to cut individual deals for each country with all the relevant parties in each country had to have been a huge pain in the arse, but Apple didn't have a choice if it wanted content. That's the way the music deals have been made for decades. I seriously doubt that Apple's margins differ much across countries. Their margins on iTunes sales are not that large in any event. The differences in pricing come from the pricing differences that the music wholesale prices charged by the labels. If the the EU finds proof to the contrary, then naming Apple makes more sense.

The difference now is that the internet breaks down borders, making the complexity of the old system and the resulting differences in prices readily apparent. So, yes, the EU needs to come to grips with technological change and make companies comply with EU rules. I understand why Apple is named in the suit. They are the number one seller of digital music, but the brunt of the legal action should be directed at the music rights-holders. They are the ones that need to bring cross-border consistency to their system of royalties and pricing. There is no reason to believe that Apple would oppose this in any way. Having a single EU deal would greatly reduce the complexity of running iTunes.

Case in point. When Apple first opened its iTunes store in the UK, a consumer group filed a complaint about price gouging. They were comparing the difference in prices with France, if I recall. The assinine thing about the complaint, though, was that Apple's price for digital downloads was cheaper than any other major player in the UK at the time (considerably so if I recall). The point is they complained that *Apple* was price-gouging, when the underlying cause of the problem was that ALL music being sold in the UK was more expensive. iTunes just made the price differences more absurd since the internet does not care about political lines on a map or differences in legal systems.

Re:EU Fines (1)

MaGogue (859961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586987)

It has been years since the EU ordered the different music licensing cartels across Europe to offer a single, pan-european license and those record company groups have ignored them. Now they're demanding Apple charge the same amount in different countries, when Apple pays a different amount in different countries, because the EU has done nothing about their previous edict. It is idiocy.
I agree this is complicated. An since the EU is not an exemplarily synchronized institute, we now have such cases instead of EU constitution. Well, at least this is better than just yielding to corporate pressure .. nope, that is the American way. Uncoordinated it is, but it's better than giving in.

Re:EU Fines (1)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587219)

just think of the outcry if Apple charged 57% more for iTunes for customers that live in California versus those that lived in Nevada and had a different prices for each USA state.

this is the situation in europe. The countries are all 'states' within a unified europe, akin to the united states of america. European "countries" share a currency (except a minority) and share a common legal platform.

Quite why a digital downloaded product has such a differential is beyond me - the iTunes servers are offshore and so do not fall foul of any 'extra' taxation and the product is identical for all customers. The distribution cost is paid for by the customer (the local broadband/network charge) - costs in US$ (for easy comparison, at todays rates) are:

  • US$1.32 per download in Europe
  • US$1.56 per download un the UK
  • US$0.99 per download in all of the United States of America

mind you. that's not as bad as the sony playstation 3 or Microsoft Windows Vista that both are immensely more espensive in the UK than the USA for identical products.

rd

Re:EU Fines (2, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587307)

just think of the outcry if Apple charged 57% more for iTunes for customers that live in California versus those that lived in Nevada and had a different prices for each USA state.

this is the situation in europe.


Ok... now explain what's *wrong* about it. In fact, given the increased taxation in California compared to Nevada, I'm mildly surprised that situation doesn't already exist.

I think Apple should be able to charge whatever the hell they want in whatever locale they want. Just giving a little analogy without telling me what you're arguing against isn't going to convince me otherwise. And the EU's constant harassment of American companies is getting downright ridiculous. If European companies can't compete on their own merits, they shouldn't be using the EU as their instrument to "get revenge" or whatever the hell's going on here.

Re:EU Fines (0, Troll)

andr0meda (167375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586785)

Neelie Kroes-Smit, the dutch lady who is European Commissioner, and thus responsible for all these European Fair Trade matters, was formerly married to Bram Peper (Dutch politician) and business man Willem Smit. Willem himself has a bad coke and white collar crime reputation hanging around him. At least 2 people that were doing business with him were shot on 2 separate occasions in clear daylight. Neelie Kroes, now divorced, was once also the president of a dutch high-class profiled Business University. That presidency is now taken up by the former Commissioner on fair trade, Karel Van Miert.

It's all fucked up politics and crime. These people are easily influenced, and I think the EU is being forced into games by many-a-lobby. The result is that MS is not going to go down alone, apparently.

For the record, I am not a MS or Apple or Mac fan. It pains me to see Europe play these corporate games. Yes, they became tools.

Re:EU Fines (0, Troll)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586875)

Well, as far as I can tell, it was Apple's fault -- sure, the music companies supposedly made Apple do it, but that does not absolve Apple of actually going along with it.

If you are doing business in a region, you'd better do follow the law of the land. If your business "partners" (i.e. the music industry) does not like playing by the rules, too bad, pull out. However, you cannot not play by the rules and insist that it is not your fault.

Next in line, I'm hoping to see Apple fined for selling DRM-ed music (the other issue the article talked about).

Re:EU Fines (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587179)

This has nothing to do with discouraging businesses from selling games consoles within the EU. The fact is that the EU has a single, regulated market. Price discrimination against customers based on their nationality or location within the EU is illegal. Apple knew this very well (you think they didn't consult their lawyers before opening EU Itunes stores?), and chose to ignore the law. Whatever contracts Apple signed with the RIAA are irrelevant; contracts between companies cannot supercede the law of the land.

As an aside to the Americans who think this is an example of EU socialism bashing a successful American company, consider this: what would your government do if Apple had different stores for each state, or for people of different races, each with varying music and pricing? I doubt you would be so accepting.

Re:EU Fines (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587463)

"Price discrimination" makes no sense. Unless the EU is under the illusion that the cost of living in London is the exact same as the cost of living in, say, some small hamlet in Germany, there's no possible way that Apple could charge the same price to each customer.

what would your government do if Apple had different stores for each state, or for people of different races, each with varying music and pricing?

Apple doesn't, but most retail stores already do. The cost of living in Iowa is much different than the cost of living in the Bay Area, California. I'd expect that goods and services would be cheaper in Iowa, possibly even half the price... it makes perfect economic sense. The EU viewpoint doesn't make any sense... it punishes poor areas by raising their prices and subsidizes prices for rich urban areas.

Re:EU Fines (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587637)

"As an aside to the Americans who think this is an example of EU socialism bashing a successful American company, consider this: what would your government do if Apple had different stores for each state, or for people of different races, each with varying music and pricing? I doubt you would be so accepting."

This has nothing to do with race. But in fact, Apple or any other company can set up stores in different states and charge different prices.

Re:EU Fines (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587193)

Well I reckon that the EU is in the strong position here. iTunes sales in the US are 10%, presumably iTunes sales would be similar in the EU. I dont think that Apple is the wrong doer here, (it's the music industry as usual) but I dont think their defence is particularly strong "they told us we had to agree to break European law"

If the EU demands that Apple harmonize its pricing, then Apple breaks its agreement with the record companies, so the agreement will have to change. Now you might say that the music industry will just walk away from iTunes Europe if they are required to harmonize pricing but I dont think they would be stupid enough to walk away from 10% of a market (potentially) much larger than the US.

I would reckon that there are many more companies price fixing across Europe than the ones you have linked. Like the music industry they are still tring to enforce price differences across the continent. Previously the individual nations were not a big enough market on their own, so multinationals could just threaten to walk away. Now those countries have united to bring in rules to a market large enough that large businesses cannot ignore (although they try).

Easier than taking on Iran (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587231)

Levying fines is a lot easier than the EU getting off their ass and actually, you know, rescuing those 15 EU citizens illegally captured by the Iranians. Or at least maybe talking about maybe doing something... maybe.

Good! WTO next? (4, Insightful)

Fjan11 (649654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586597)

For once the EU seems to be applying one of the more useful laws they made. It always seemed wrong to me that you could blatently discriminate customers on the basis of their nationality. I don't think a judge is going to buy the "record labels made me do it" defence. IANAL, but I just cannot see how that's going to be an excuse.

I wonder if the WTO could also go after them for charging different prices to US and non-US customers. I know there are many other web stores that do that so that's probably allowed. I understand why a marketeer would like to have different prices for different areas but it is just hampering price transparency and free trade.

Within the US would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ? (apart from tax & shipping?) Would any US judge care if you said the record labels made you do that? I think they just price differentiated because they thought they could get away with it.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586683)

It always seemed wrong to me that you could blatently discriminate customers on the basis of their nationality.
Nice try, but its discrimination based on your location. An American in California will get a different price then an American in the Germany (or an American with an American credit card will get a different price then an American with a German credit card).

I wonder if the WTO could also go after them for charging different prices to US and non-US customers.
Considering that's not the case, probably not.

Re:Good! WTO next? (2, Insightful)

Fjan11 (649654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586765)

Nice try, but its discrimination based on your location
Agreed, just after I posted I realized I should have said nation instead of nationality (English is not my first language). But does that make it any less discriminatory? It's still against the law, and IMHO it should be.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586999)

Ok, let me get this is straight... Let's say Dell sells a computer in the US for $1,000 US. Are you telling me that if Dell were to sell that same computer anywhere else in the world they should be FORCED to sell it for the same price? So if they sell it in an poor African country...$1,000 US. Sell it in a rich country with very high taxes, transport, and sales cost--$1000 US.

What about a gallon of gas? It costs more in California than in the midwest. Supply and demand, availibility, pipelines, etc can account for this. If the same company is selling gas in multiple locations, should they be forced to sell at the same cost, regardless of anything else?

It seems a very, VERY slippery slope and yet another example of an area where governments should just keep their noses out.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Fjan11 (649654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587111)

Ok, let me get this is straight... Let's say Dell sells a computer in the US for $1,000 US. Are you telling me that if Dell were to sell that same computer anywhere else in the world they should be FORCED to sell it for the same price? So if they sell it in an poor African country...$1,000 US.
No, what I am saying is that if an African wants to buy a computer from Dell in the US they should be charged the same as an American. This is not currently the case, Dell's US web site will not accept my order as I do not have a credit card billing address in the US (even though I have friends in the US where I could have it delivered and forwarded).

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587399)

That's a great ideal, but unfortunately for better or worse, governments like to levy tariffs and other limits on trade. To do what you propose would *require* a one-world government, and I don't know about you, but I think that's a really crummy idea.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587353)

This has nothing to do with the pricing being different between stores, and everything to do with Apple blcoking customers ability to shop from other stores in the EU - if Apple allowed customers to shop around, they could still maintain pricing differences between those stores legally.

Re:Good! WTO next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586791)

Within the US would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ?

New York and New Jersey are in the same country. The European Union is not a country.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

zentinal (602572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586881)

Fjan11 said, "Within the US would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ? (apart from tax & shipping?)"

Not only is it allowed to have different prices for the same product in different states, but also for the same product in different counties, different cities, different blocks, or different addresses in the same block. This works, as long as people are able to shop around and freely purchase at the lowest price. The problem then is the contractural requirement that iTunes customers can only purchase from the iTunes store for their own country.

This has the makings of another big problem for the music labels / publishers and sweet music for Apple. Bets on if they have code tested and ready for when the EU comission strikes down those sections of the contract and Apple is forced to convert to a single EU iTunes.

You know, I wonder if, somewhere in the background, someone from Apple was quietly lobbying the EU for this probe...

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587433)

The problem then is the contractural requirement that iTunes customers can only purchase from the iTunes store for their own country.

But there's no requirement to purchase from iTunes at all, and Apple doesn't have a monopoly on 1) music, or even 2) online music. This can onlt be considered a monopoly if you restrict the domain of competition to iTunes itself, which is of course an Apple product. Not to mention which, one can easily burn/re-rip anyway to get music in whatever format you desire. To me, this is pointless.

This has the makings of another big problem for the music labels / publishers and sweet music for Apple. Bets on if they have code tested and ready for when the EU comission strikes down those sections of the contract and Apple is forced to convert to a single EU iTunes. You know, I wonder if, somewhere in the background, someone from Apple was quietly lobbying the EU for this probe...

Just crazy enough to be true. It's certainly the kind of thing Steve would do.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

LO0G (606364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587573)

Not only is it allowed to have different prices for the same product in different states, but also for the same product in different counties, different cities, different blocks, or different addresses in the same block. This works, as long as people are able to shop around and freely purchase at the lowest price. The problem then is the contractural requirement that iTunes customers can only purchase from the iTunes store for their own country.


W.R.T. your assertion of pricing differently based on "different blocks or different addresses in the same block". In the US, this is often illegal, it's a practice called redlining [wikipedia.org] .

W.R.T. the parent's assertion that the EU isn't a country, for economic purposes, the EU [wikipedia.org] is a single country, and thus the NY vs NJ argument is valid.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586979)

"It always seemed wrong to me that you could blatently discriminate customers on the basis of their nationality[sic]."

Why, exactly? Don't you think that there could be a legitimate basis for charging someone a different price based upon one's place of residence? A country might possess high tariffs against a good or service, high taxes on that good or service, or it might not be as economically feasible to sell your product there due to any other number of factors. To suggest that such economically-sound decision-making is "discrimination," which I take to mean on the level of racism, is just silly.

"I understand why a marketeer would like to have different prices for different areas but it is just hampering price transparency and free trade."

On the contrary; free trade is just that - "free." In the sense that there are no laws regulating things like, you know... price.

Within the US would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ? (apart from tax & shipping?)

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that you could. Not that it would be a good decision to do so, and that's why nobody does it, but I believe you theoretically could.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Fjan11 (649654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587321)

Ok, I must not have made myself clear, but what we are talking about here is price differentiation WITHIN THE SAME SHOP ON THE SAME LOCATION. That's what's happening here. If you go into a NY Apple store to buy a iTunes prepaid card you get charged the same amount whether I am from NY or from NJ, and I would be very surprised if they were allowed to check your ID and set the price accordingly. If you go into the same iTunes store as a Dutchmen (and I have) I was told my dollars were no good, since to get the card to work you need to use a US based credit card (which I doubt is true). Even if that's legal in the US, it is not in the EU and I think that's a good thing.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587003)

I don't know about an online store, but national US chains do charge different prices in different states. Products tend to be cheaper in lower income regions of the US. It doesn't really make sense to hold prices constant while allowing average income to differ.

If the EU wants the music labels to set a standard EU price, expect that price to be higher than what it currently is in lower income countries in Europe. Sure the UK might get a price break, but music will be less affordable than it currently is in other parts of Europe.

Re:Good! WTO next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587103)

If you go to any chain store in the US, you will see different prices from location to location even with the same state. Setting prices has a lot to do with physical location IRL.

For the digital equivalent, there may be different costs associated with operating in different companies. It makes sense to me that there are different labor costs and utility costs in different countries. How much does a web admin make in Denmark; how much in France etc? The cost of electricity within the US varies from city to city; I imagine costs where servers are stored in the EU would range as well. Should Apple be able to re-coop those costs? I think so! Also, we should keep in mind that exchange rates fluctuate. This article puts things in terms of USD; but at any point in time, fluctuation in the root currency relative to USD might increase or decrease the price differences.

Lastly, different countries != different states. Canada and the US are fairly similar countries; however, both are sovereign nations that have different laws and business models. The US, Canada, and Mexico have trade agreements (NAFTA) which is different from the EU union; however, it is a better comparison than trying to compare prices between NY and NJ. Prices are very different between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587107)

Would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ?

Have you ever been to New York?

Re:Good! WTO next? (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587287)

Within the US would you be allowed to charge someone from, say, NY a different price than someone from NJ? (apart from tax & shipping?)
Different tax rates seem to be part of the issue here (or so it seems from reading other comments). TFA also suggests that prices vary according to the countries' currencies. I don't know how quickly exchange rates shift, but I could imagine Apple setting the price point equal everywhere and then exchange rates shifting to create price disparity.

Thank you Slashdot! (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586631)

Last night, I had dinner at a friend's house. The family is from Italy. They had purchased for a nephew (in Sicily) an Itunes card and sent it over. He had just called yesterday wondering why he couldn't use the card in Italy. I told them that I had no idea as I would never purchase from Itunes, but that I'd investigate.

I get into work, and voila! /. has the story I need and the answer.

Thank you slashdot - you've saved me some legwork.

Re:Thank you Slashdot! (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587343)

You're welcome ;)

Correct me if I'm wrong... (4, Insightful)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586633)

But "They told me I had to do it like this" doesn't really sound very compelling. You do business on foreign soil according to the laws of the land, and if the laws of the land say you can't change the availability of your product based on locale then don't just hide behind the music industry's rhetoric in order to make a quick buck. Do the right thing.

Also, fuck the RIAA.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586909)

Also, fuck the RIAA.

Yeah, fuck the Recording Industry Association of America for their stranglehold over European laws!!!

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (2, Insightful)

palmer64s (1049988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586989)

The laws of the land including copyright laws, and Apple can't sell downloads if the copyright holders don't grant them that right.

The ball is clearly in the court of the record companies.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

XMode (252740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587023)

"They told me I had to do it like this" isn't very compelling, but "We only have an agreement with the copyright holder to sell this song in x country" and "we have to pay different distributes different prices in different countries, so we are just passing this on" sound much more legal. Personally I think it sucks, but apple haven't caused this problem.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587487)

It looks like Apple's sort of stuck between two sets of laws that don't mesh well, and the only way to avoid running afoul of either set is pack up their stuff and leave.

Is that the "right thing" that Apple should do? While having a fractured and confusing jumble of iTMS's is not the perfect solution, if the alternative is no iTMS, is that really any better for the citizens of the EU? Or are you suggesting that they just sell whatever music wherever, and get sued by all the music copyright holders? What other choices do they have? Send a bunch of lobbyists to try and get legislative changes? Is that a good solution?

The record companies are the ones who really should change their priorities. And the EU should be hassling them. If Apple shuts down iTMS Europe, then the EU is just going to end up stuck with the same problems with whatever store tries to take its place.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587509)

fuck the RIAA.
To quote the Futuristic Sex Robotz:
Fuck the R I - double A
Fuck the M P - double A
Fuck the suits in the BSA
Fuck 'em all for the DMCA

Good (4, Informative)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586685)

UK iTunes customers currently pay 79p per track. That's the equivalent of around $1.50.

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586995)

Companies don't like to change prices every week based on the exchange rate. The dollar's value has declined, but in a few years we'll be throwing out this mockery of a government and the people in charge of keeping the dollar strong will go back to actually doing their jobs. In the meantime you shouldn't compare European prices directly to American ones... unless you'd like for your wages to also go down every time the dollar does.

DVD zoning (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586697)

the price differences and availability differences between iTunes stores for different EU countries constitute a violation of EU competition laws which forbid territorial sales restrictions.
And what about DVD zoning, which has been around for years?

Oh, of course, DVDs are different.

Re:DVD zoning (4, Informative)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586775)

DVD zoning puts all of the EU in one zone, so it doesn't violate EU rules.

Re:DVD zoning (3, Funny)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586975)

That's good, since it means consumers aren't being taken advantage of.

Bloody clever, you fucking bastards...

Re:DVD zoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587199)

That's good, since it means consumers aren't being taken advantage of.

Bloody clever, you fucking bastards...
Why, thank you.

And that's my $.02, or £26.

-the DVDCCA

Re:DVD zoning (0, Redundant)

Alranor (472986) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586777)

Unless i'm mistaken, all of the EU falls under the same regional zone as far as DVDs are concerned, and thus they won't fall foul of this law as it only regulates sales within the EU.

Re:DVD zoning (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586823)

The whole EU has region 2. Also the prices should be equal (prices without VAT ofcourse), and there the thing that they can not restrict me from buying a DVD in an other country, something that iTunes (apperently) does.

Re:DVD zoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586949)

And what about DVD zoning, which has been around for years?

Oh, of course, DVDs are different.


DVDs ARE different.

All countries of the EU are included in Region 2 when it comes to DVD lockouts. This would only apply to the competition laws if some EU countries were using different regions, say Germany was marketed as Region 5.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_codes [wikipedia.org]

OMFG (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586721)

...Apple might become a convicted Monopolist? Who will slashdotters be fanbois of now? What if google is also convicted of antitrust? Oh the humanity!

Re:OMFG (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586799)

We'll all be fanbois of the AC's, seeing as how they clearly have a monopoly on stupidity :)

Oh the humility!

Re:OMFG (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586869)

OMFG, RTFA!

Or, what part of "does not allege the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is in a dominant market position." did you not understand?

Call the waaaahhhhhmbulance (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586759)

Yeah, and I can't buy anyhthing from iTMS Japan either. That's not Apple's fault, it's the fault of the record labels (and the media industry in general) that they want to carve up territories like that.

However, I suppose they do have a point in that according to EU laws, the same songs should be available in all of EU (I'll guess they aren't), and maybe the whole EU area should be treated as one region (with half a dozen primary languages). Again, if the music companies are telling them to restrict certain songs to certain parts of EU, it's the music companies. FTRIAA, etc.

Where does the money go? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586763)

Admittedly I probably don't know as much about the EU as I should, but the biggest question for me is what happens to all this money? Is it essentially garnered to ensure the bureaucracy lives on forever?

Life is good being a pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586827)

Watching all these politicians and corporations and lawyers argue and cry. What a lame life they all lead.

Meanwhile, us pirates just download whatever the hell we want.

Re:Life is good being a pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587539)

Ah yes, those poor, sad lawyers, corporate bosses and politicians, with their millions of dollars, penthouse apartments, villas in Spain, trophy wives and countless mistresses. What they'd give up to be like you, dear pirate, with your basement 'apartment' under your parent's house, semen encrusted sofa-bed and DSL line maxed out downloading Emo and porn.

It's good to see authorities standing up to Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586863)

Ever since Microsoft bailed Apple out of bankruptcy in 1997, Apple has learned from the master. It's high time justice stood up to Apple's bullying.

EU inconsistency (1)

wildBoar (181352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586867)

One of the big problems with the EU is it's total inconsistency. It supports privileged cartels on the one hand and then hammers companies for operating in the same way but in a different market sector on the other.

Eg, if I buy a book from Amazon they will deliver it practically anywhere. Electronics from the same site are restricted to the country that the site represents.

I think the principle should be that something sells for the same price in a given format and can be delivered anywhere. There are too many artificial restrictions in the market place. Exceptions would be for instance having to pay more for a french version of a given piece of software or a film to cover localisation.

Re:EU inconsistency (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587089)

No inconsistency here, Amazon is probably violating the same trade-rules as Apple. Despite popular opinion, the EU only employs a relatively small amount of people* and they probably just haven't got to them yet.

(*less than the number of civil servants for a medium sized city; I'm not denying that they generate tons of superfluous paperwork for the member states...)

Re:EU inconsistency (1)

onnellinen (303528) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587235)

Nope. The difference between Amazon and iTunes is that I can buy my books from any Amazon store (.com, .uk, .de etc.). I can only buy music from a single iTunes store, the one in the country where my credit card is registered.

Re: Electronics Sales (1)

Name Anonymous (850635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587319)

Eg, if I buy a book from Amazon they will deliver it practically anywhere. Electronics from the same site are restricted to the country that the site represents.

Actually with electronics, there is another issue. Electronics have to be approved (in a lot of countries at least) by various regulatory agencies. In the US, electronics have to be certified that they meet the FCC guidlines for RF emissions. And sometimes products only have the approvals listed on them for the country they're manufactured for. (Different model numbers for some countries would be one of the causes for this.) And of course there would be the power cord and possibly voltage issues.

For these reasons and others, it makes sense not to ship electronics into other countries. Although one would hope that eventually the EU would make the regulatory approval process be an EU thing instead of a per country thing there.

Poor old apple. (1)

RalphSleigh (899929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586871)

Despite being one of those socialist liberals that inhabit much of Europe. I am going with Apple on this one. I think given their current way of doing things, they would love to have one big iTunes for Europe, with one price in Euros, converted to the local currency in those bits of Europe that choose not to partake, but in this case I suspect if they didn't atleast try to prevent out of region sales the labels and distributors would come down hard.

Heres also hoping that all the iTunes stores get the non DRM stuff, not just the USA one for the first x months/years.

Re:Poor old apple. (1)

bradavon (1066358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587063)

I don't see how that is needed just charge everyone the same across all the ITunes sites. As for partaking in the Euro only Sweden, The UK and a handful of others have opted out. The rest are in the process of opting in or are not even part of the EU so have no place having the Euro. As far as I understand it you cannot have the Euro without EU. In most cases this does come down to most EU countries having the same currency so the same price applies.

You can buy CDs from other EU countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586985)

"the company wanted to operate a single store for all of Europe, but music labels and publishers said there were limits to the rights that could they could grant to Apple."

You can buy CDs from Germany if you're in the UK, so what's the problem? Since when has the music labels and publishers been above the EU law? They aren't, which is why any music store in the EU can sell to any person in the EU. Amazon manages it, so can Apple.

Or is this just another Apple excuse?
Like the one where you can buy DRM free music but only if you pay more and buy the higher quality version?
So pay less, but put up with the iPod lock-in, or pay more and get quality beyond the level you can hear and files twice as bulky. OH THANK YOU THANK YOU MR JOBS FOR NEEDLESSLY TYING TWO UNRELATED THINGS TOGETHER TO FOOL CONSUMERS! I am totally fooled. /sarcasm.

Welcome to the club! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587015)

I for one applaud the EU for enforcing their monopoly regulations against Apple. About time. I know I will be modded down as a troll for this, but I hope this action helps to open the eyes of the average slashdotter (ie pro mac, anti MS) that even though they have different public relation campaigns, both companies are now in the same boat and very similar in their business practices.

Oh, also, neither company is a monopoly; since there is competition, they should be regarded as oligopolies.

Sounds like M$? (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587035)

Why does that reply from the Apple spokesperson remind me of Microsoft in most of it's antitrust cases?

I am a Mac user. I find the Mac culture is often blind to how Apple isn't really different from Microsoft. Like most corporations, you want complete market presence and world domination. Unfortunately this means that smaller EU companies don't have much power unless laws exist to keep the big guys from doing as they please

[J]

EU SUCKS APPLE IS TEH BEST!!! (-1, Troll)

The Slashdot Guy (793685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587039)

mod me up, mactards!

I'm torn on this.... (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587121)

I think Apple has the taint of evil for it's pushing of DRM and lock in's to it's hardware.
I think the EU is silly for how it tries to legislate things, and often causes itself undue issues.

Who am I supposed to be snarking at on this topic?

Apple "pushing DRM"? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587205)

Say what? [rollingstone.com]

Re:Apple "pushing DRM"? (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587345)

Jobs can come out now and say he's against DRM. That's because riding the inherent lock ins that went along with iTunes/iPod have already done their job.

Ask him back about the time the iPod was released if he wouldn't rather have an open format which didn't restrict which player you could play your music on after you bought it, and didn't keep you from moving the music around and I am fairly willing to bet you would get a different answer. Or let people use iTunes more easily with non Apple players... See where I'm heading?

Man, what is their problem? (0, Troll)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587145)

The EU certainly seem to have a hate-on for a lot of corporations these days.

Re:Man, what is their problem? (0, Troll)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587599)

Just American corporations.

I think it's a combination of two things:

1) Waaaah! We don't like Bush and his government! Waaah! We don't like the war in Iraq even though it doesn't even really have anything to do with us, except the UK! Waaah!

2) Waaaah! All these American companies are out-competing our companies! Waaah! We need to do something about it, but we can't reduce our crazy labor laws! Waah!

Either way, it strikes me as an extremely immature thing to be doing. Thus the 'waaah.'

Just who is responsible... (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587259)

What is not clear from the article, is whether it is the music companies driving the division, or if it is Apple. If it is the music companies, they are the ones the EU should be looking at. If it is Apple, then... if it is both, that is collusion. It doesn't help that Apple has yet to respond to the EU's questions. That might clear up a lot of stuff. In the meantime, Appleytes can gather and press for boycotts of EU goods if they like, but it would help if Apple responded to the EU's request for information.

Often if you don't respond to courts, government organizations etc, they threaten to fine you etc.

Re:Just who is responsible... (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587691)

It makes no difference. The one legally responsible is the one operating the sales outlets. If I am a car dealer, I cannot refuse to sell to someone from another country. If I reply that the auto maker made me do it, the auto maker will get busted too. If you engage in conspiracy to commit anti competitive behaviour, both parties are busted. Makes no difference whose idea it was.

Slashdot Loves Apple! (3, Interesting)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587273)

How is this hard to understand? If I want to buy music in the EU then Company A can't sell it to france for say 99p and then prohibit me from buying from their french store forcing me to buy it in the UK one at £1.29. I can goto france and buy a DVD bring it home and play it on my UK DVD player. Itunes store activily stops me from buying from the French store, its price fixing. Apple can talk about how the music store won't let them, well sorry thats the local law if you cant obey it then you shouldn't be doing it. The EU simply expects Apple to let me use the french store and the frenchies use the UK store, it doesn't expect EU members to be able to access non eu member stores. So I still won't be able to use the USA store, I don't know about you but I think price fixing is bad, this is deliberate price fixing "because the record company's are forcing us" if thats the case I'd expect a anti trust case against the record companies next.

The bad, the good and the ugly. (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587315)

The case - European Comission (EC) v. Apple v. RIAA - in my head immediately was associated with good old movie.

The bad, the good and the ugly.

Badness of EC with all its accounting fraud mess is certain. Goodness of Apple is questionable, but in the party it definitely stands out. RIAA is part of deal since Apple here is retailer only (though still as retailer may bear responsibilities before consumers). And "ugly" is only descriptive adjective I can find for RIAA.

But, RoughlyDrafted says they're not! (0, Redundant)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587333)

Surely the EU should read some fair and unbiased sites like RoughlyDrafted to learn that it most certainly is NOT a monopoly! And they should realize the RIAA is extremely evil!

(Okay, so the last sentence I can't say without chuckling at the blatant karma whore, that I've seen in this thread a few times.)

Lots of misunderstandings here (5, Informative)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587361)

1) Its not about coding. Having different release dates in different languages would be fine, even within the EU.

2) Its not about DRM. Locking to players may or may not be OK in the EU, but its a different issue.

3) Its not about having the same price. No-one says you have to sell for the same price everywhere.

4) Its not about Apple being forced to do things by the record companies. It doesn't matter who wanted it or didn't.

5) It is not the same as buying stuff in Japan and the US, because, you see, Japan and the US are not part of a single market established by treaty and with a transnational body, the Commission, regulating conduct of companies.

What is it about then?

It is unlawful in the EU to restrict imports and exports from one country to another, because that is in restraint of trade and anti competitive. You can sell it for 600 in Germany and 300 in France. But what you cannot do is prevent the Germans from buying the stuff in France.

Consequently, it makes no difference what the record companies or Apple think or say to each other. Apple cannot enter into an agreement to restrict sales from its UK sites to UK cardholders. If it did sign such an agreement, it is unlawful. It will have entered into a conspiracy to commit anti competitive behaviour. Along with whoever it signed the agreement with. They will both be fried for it. If it just did it off its own initiative, only it committed the unlawful acts. If it really did.

So please guys, stop blaming the record companies and exonerating Apple, its all irrelevant. We have, allegedly, one or more parties engaged in anti competitive practices which are unlawful in the EU. If so, one or both are going to get busted. Whoever instigated it is irrelevant.

If you want to get a better handle on it, think violating FTC rules on interstate commerce in the US.

An excellent principle, but... (1)

b00le (714402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587535)

So are they now going to go after Amazon.co.uk for refusing to sell me (in Italy) electronics? The fact is that corporations always have, and always will, do what they can to restrain free trade (DVD region coding, anyone?), while at the same time the politicians they've bought and paid for are telling us we should fall to our knees and worship the free market and its magic, invisible hand.
  If I were Apple I would want one store - worldwide. Good luck with that.

EU Launches Antitrust Probe against major music c (4, Informative)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587577)

Update: [forbes.com]

The European Commission said the focus of its antitrust inquiry into the pricing of songs on Apple Inc's iTunes online music store will be major music companies.

The emphasis on the groups was outlined by a spokesman for EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes to reporters here.

However, he added that Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) is also included in the investigation as the 'operator' of the service.

The EU position is defensible (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18587623)

Apple is claiming that they cannot distribute the music because the actual labels have agreements in place that only permit certain music to be distributed in certain countries. While this is true, the EU knows that under WTO rules, this practice is no longer defensible. Sure you can write a contract that makes the restriction, but it can no longer be enforced. The same with DVD region codes.

Companies that distribute for media companies, produce players and software, etc that enforce various region-based market segmentation strategies are, in their mind, complicit in engaging in restricting free trade. Apple knows that the rules allow them to distribute to provide a single global store for all customers in WTO signatory countries (which includes the US, EU, Japan, etc.), but doesn't. Apple doesn't do it, not because they can't, but because they don't want to to anger the labels that provide the actual content. While they couldn't be sued for ignoring the locale of the customer and distributing freely among the various countries, the labels would probably yank any further cooperation in retaliation.

Apple's between a rock and a hard place.

A similar situation exists with DVD region codes. Despite the fact that they are no longer legally enforcable, and outright illegal in certain jurisdictions, hardware manufacturers and software developers still support them. Why? So they can maintain a positive relationship with the media industry that still demands it. Meanwhile, most vendors make their products easy to modify to be made region-free (what the consumer wants).

It would have been much easier if the WTO explicitly outlawed regional segmentation of markets. The way it is worded make it so it's still legal to do, but any attempt to "enforce" such artificial segmentat or make others respect same is not permitted. I guess that's a way of saying that you can choose not to sell in a particular country, but you can't refuse someone the right to distribute or use your products (after they legally obtain them from you) in another country.

They'll love it!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587629)

Apple bitches love getting "probed"!!
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