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Friday, June 01, 2007, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

European Commission deadline looms over Apple

The European Commission said this week that Apple has yet to respond to its concerns over anti-competitive pricing of songs on its iTunes Store, despite a midnight deadline on Monday.

At the heart of the executive body's complaint, which was lodged back on April 3rd, was the nationalized approach to the online music shops that are restricted only to buyers who hold accounts in given countries.

Shoppers are often forced to buy only from their home store, preventing them from earning the best rate. British shoppers are particularly hurt by this, the European Commission said, as the 79p song downloads were the most expensive across the whole region.

An executive for the European Commission confirmed to Thomson Financial that its charges do not allege Apple is in a dominant market position. The matter also does not concern Apple's use of its proprietary Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology on songs sold through its European iTunes shops.

For its part, Apple has claimed no wrongdoing and asserted that it had been pressured into using only localized stores by the major recording labels.

"Apple has always wanted to operate a single, pan-European iTunes store, accessible by anyone from any member state," an Apple's spokesman previously told the press. "But we were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us. We do not believe the company did anything to violate EU law, and we will continue to work with the EU to resolve this matter."

According to Thomson Financial, the commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their annual worldwide turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules.