Europe probes 'rip off' Apple iTunes pricing

Songs more expensive in UK than France, Germany etc.


The European Commission (EC) has confirmed it is looking into allegations that Apple's iTunes Music Store discriminates against UK consumers by charging them more to download the same song than it charges other European music buyers.

Some British iTunes users have slammed the differential pricing as yet another example of "rip-off Britain".

Apple's pricing policy was brought to the EC's attention in December 2004 by the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which was itself made aware of the situation by British consumer group Which?

In the UK, the iTunes Music Store charges customers 79p (€1.14) to download a single track. The same song costs €0.99 when it's downloaded from Apple's other European music shops.

Apple can, of course, charge what it likes, and while UK consumers might be annoyed at the price differential, there's little they can do but complain about it. Or go and buy songs from, say, ITMS' French outlet. However, Apple doesn't permit them to do so.

That's the real issue: is Apple's refusal to allow cross-border shopping in contravention of European Union laws enacted to ensure the free movement of goods and services between member states.

Apple argues that since each country has its own music licensing regime, it's forced to adopt different prices for each nation in which it sells music. Potentially, diluting that argument is its own cross-border store, which takes in customers from the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and other territories. If it can smooth pricing across these countries, why not across the EU as a whole?

The EC itself last year called on Europe's music licensing agencies to develop a common framework and pricing structure - or risk having one imposed upon it. Certainly, the EC fears that the various licensing regimes are themselves in violation of EU law.

Whether that will let Apple off the hook remains to be seen. A verdict one way or t'other seems unlikely in the near term - the investigation was described as being in its "early stages", according to an EC spokesman cited by Associated Press. ®

Related stories

French consumer group sues Apple, Sony
Apple iTunes sales tally hits 250m
Sony preps PlayStation 'music download service'
Euro Apple fans moan over Mac Mini pricing
Apple threatens iTunes.co.uk owner
UK govt takes iTunes gripe to Europe
Apple opens Euro iTunes stores
OFT urged to investigate 'rip-off' iTunes


Other stories you might like

  • Millions of people's info stolen from MGM Resorts dumped on Telegram for free
    Meanwhile, Twitter coughs up $150m after using account security contact details for advertising

    Miscreants have dumped on Telegram more than 142 million customer records stolen from MGM Resorts, exposing names, postal and email addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth for any would-be identity thief.

    The vpnMentor research team stumbled upon the files, which totaled 8.7 GB of data, on the messaging platform earlier this week, and noted that they "assume at least 30 million people had some of their data leaked." MGM Resorts, a hotel and casino chain, did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

    The researchers reckon this information is linked to the theft of millions of guest records, which included the details of Twitter's Jack Dorsey and pop star Justin Bieber, from MGM Resorts in 2019 that was subsequently distributed via underground forums.

    Continue reading
  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block some Microsoft web trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains.

    Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022