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Apple denies reports of Universal's iTunes standoff

Apple is denying reports that record label Universal Music Group does not plan to renew its contract to sell songs on iTunes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We are still negotiating with Universal," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told the paper Monday afternoon. "Their music is still on iTunes and their not re-signing is just not true."

Citing "executives briefed on the issue," the New York Times on Monday morning reported that Universal, the world’s biggest music corporation, had notified Apple that it would not be renewing its annual contract with iTunes.

Instead, the newspaper said Universal would look to market music to Apple at will, which could allow the label to yank its songs from the iTunes service on short notice if the two sides do not agree on pricing or other terms in the future.

Apple and the major record labels have been wrestling over how much people should be charged per tune, with the iPod maker and its chief executive Steve Jobs advocating a simple 99-cents-each model while the music companies are demanding the freedom to charge different prices for certain songs and albums.