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Apple pressured to raise iTunes pricing in 2006

Apple Computer may be forced to raise song prices at several of its popular iTunes music stores next year, according to a report from overseas.

Japan\'s Nikkei is reporting that record labels have been \'abuzz with talk about Apple\'s 2006 problem,\' referring to the company\'s licensing renegotiations with record labels scheduled for next year.

Specifically, labels have been pushing Apple to increase its current fixed a-la-carte pricing structure in the US, Canada and Europe, the report states.

It\'s believed that Apple\'s two-tiered approach used in the new Japanese iTunes store may foreshadow possible increases, while at the same time bolstering the labels\' case for higher pricing.

On the other hand, Apple\'s lower pricing in Japan has forced some of its main competitors in the region--Sony\'s Label Gate, Yahoo Japan and Excite--to lower pricing.

Come 2006, Apple\'s licensing of its FairPlay DRM may also be an issue, as labels have recently begun shipping copy-protected CDs that are not compatible with the popular iPod.