EU Begins iTunes Antitrust Probe - TheStreet

EU Begins iTunes Antitrust Probe

The move follows Apple's EMI deal.
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Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

tussles with the European Union show no sign of going away.

In its latest move, the European Commission has opened an investigation into alleged antitrust practices by Apple and has sent a Statement of Objections to Apple and major record companies for allegedly restricting music sales on iTunes by territory.

The current structure violates European rules prohibiting restrictive business practices, the EC says. The Statement of Objections is one of the first steps in European antitrust investigations.

Currently, consumers in Europe are restricted in their choice of music on the iTunes online store by their country of residence, said the commission. Accordingly, the price and the selection of tracks available to them varies. iTunes verifies consumers' country of residence through their credit card details.

The commission is, however, not leveling monopoly charges against Apple, since it hasn't said the company is in a "dominant market position."

Apple's

deal on Monday with

EMI Music

to sell tracks on iTunes without the use of restrictive digital rights management technology may help take the sting out of some of the allegations.

Apple has two months to respond to the EC's charges. Potential fines in case of a proved violation could be up to 10% of a company's worldwide annual turnover, said the commission.

Shares of Apple were recently up 80 cents, or 0.8%, to $94.45.