Apple's online music practices reportedly spark antitrust investigation

itunesToday’s New York Times reports that the U.S. Justice Department has begun inquiring into the way that Apple sells music online. At issue, it seems, is the ongoing contest between the iTunes Music Store and Amazon.com: The Times‘ anonymous sources say that “investigators had asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon.com exclusive access to music about to be released.”

Apple certainly does wield a mighty market share. The Times cites figures showing that 69 percent of all online music sales in the U.S. go through iTunes. Amazon takes second place — with a measly eight percent of the MP3 market. Have Apple’s efforts to stay at No. 1 crossed a legal line? These are early days for the Justice Department’s reported investigation, so it may be some time before we have a definitive answer. A rep for Apple did not respond to the Music Mix’s request for comment.

What do you think of this story? Weigh in via the comments below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (55 total) Add your comment
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  • Grady

    Love it. Bring on the industry news EW.

  • Ted

    It’s time people see Apple for what they really are. They want to control everything. Why people buy their products with less features for money is beyond me. The Ipad is nothing more than a giant Ipod Touch. I can’te believe you fools bought into it. How sad. People are such sheep.

    • Nicole

      I completely agree! The iPad was a waste of money, especially since it was the first generation. I never get music from iTunes.

      • climbaz

        Wow. Nobody is forcing you to buy an iPad or buy music from iTunes.

        I still buy cd’s and rip them and put them on my iPods.

  • MSims

    I never, ever buy music from I-tunes. They’re too “uppity”. I buy from Amazon only, for my ipod and for my physical music collection. Its easy, they don’t snoop and its mine to do what I want with.

    • G.R.

      Same here, MSims — except I don’t have an iPod; and most of the mp3s I download, I intend to burn onto CD.

      (And I couldn’t care less about iPad or iPhone or any of that stuff… :p )

      • Elvis

        How cute! You *still* burn CDs! Can I get your email so my daughter can interview you for her report on “Irrelevance” and “Classic turn-of-the-century American pastimes”?!?

      • PStills

        And by “download” you mean steal, right?

      • G.R.

        PStills,
        No, legitimate sites like Amazon, and band and record-label websites.

      • G.R.

        Elvis,
        Do you feel better about yourself now?

      • Anitamargarita

        Ummm… Elvis is just a douche. I burn CDs because I would much rather lose/damage the media that cost me less than a dollar than the $100+ mp3 player. My car has a CD player. What the hell is so irrelevant about that?

    • Habib

      The only reason I can see for the dkiesils and so few likes even though you have 36k views, is your presentation is not polished. The mic is weak so your voice does not carry very well, and you don’t speak with authority about the product. Take a look at professional reviews, good examples to check out is any video game review from IGN. You have to have confidence in your voice or people listening will tune out.

  • fair play

    For quite some time now, Apple has abused its dominant position in suppressing free enterprise in the open marketplace. Their pathological and diabolical drive to control and dominate our choices should be met with severe antitrust penalties.

    • climbaz

      Wow, I really don’t get all the hate. You’re not being forced to do anything. Don’t buy a freakin iPod or download from iTunes.

      I have an iPod but I buy cd’s and rip them. The iPod’s great. If there was anything else even close to it I might get it but the only choice is well, I don’t know . . .

  • mary

    Live life

    • Young

      and fun contests, to help all of us in the Sandwich Generation take great gradknid pictures with an easy to use digital camera, do visit Sweet Shot Tuesday. If you’d like extra help and inspiration, be sure to check out her second Twitter Party

  • RedHyde

    I’ve never bought from Itunes, and never will. Always go with Amazon. Itunes software takes up way to much of your PC system. You can download from Amazon without a software. And I prefer to be able to view songs and samples without having to be signed in first.

    • Jhoker

      @ChewyPancake Not from where i’m sittin,and as long as she doesn’t have the gun and ammo (hint,hint) that’s not going to stop me from haivng her as a heart throbe:).

  • Miggy1016

    Apple is the AntiChrist! There are many other outlets for music, and why ‘buy’ music when you can stream, or ‘rent’

    • Catlin

      You buy it so you can listen to it whenever you want. Its yours.

  • Elvis

    Truth is *I* only trust Apple in this new digital frontier… Amazon? No. Google? No! Microsoft? HELL NO! Apple does it right. Execute on your own original idea all you also rans…and haters…

    • Steve

      I wish Elvis would leave the building. Amazon’s mp3 is much better than Itunes.

  • B

    I’m not happy with Apple because they bought out lala.com, which was a great site. You could listen to any song all the way through – even an entire album – once, before buying; not just a snippet, but the full song, so you could know if you really liked it. Then, you had the option of buying an online version for a vastly reduced price (even 10-cents a song for some), where you could listen only online, but unlimited. Or, you could purchase traditional mp3s. But Apple bought them and they are shutting down the service as of Monday. Supposedly they are going to offer a similar online-server setup, but I doubt it’s going to be as generous.

  • Vicky

    I always buy music from Amazon. Very easy to use and you can play the mp3s back on anything.

  • Bad Apple

    I will never give a dime to Apple for anything. I use Amazon for downloads, hassle free and no software to load. Anything with i in front of it turns my stomach.

    • Jimmy

      Hey! I think a combustion engine just blew by your horse!?!

      • Jak

        You are making no sense Jimmy. Your comment would imply that Bad Apple is antiquated but how so? He’s using modern tech to download info over the internet. It’s the exact same thing you are doing but with a different software. Geeze, if you are going to insult someone then at least try and make some sense.

  • topher

    I only buy from Amazon because I want MP3 files that can play on any device. That said, why should Amazon get EXCLUSIVE content that iTunes doesn’t get? I’d pressure the labels too.

    • josh

      you know you can covert your tracks to mp3s that will play on any device using itunes right? Step into 2010.

  • kodiackid

    Who cares what other people think or do in this matter, do what you want to do and do not be influenced by anyone or any corp. I buy from both, it works for me. Your milage may vary

  • paul

    I am confused. It says in the article that Apple used its influence to keep record labels from providing “exclusive” access to Amazon. Was something not said or not written right? Becuase I don’t think it’s wrong to keep one company from having exclusive access. Isn’t that the definition of competition?

    • becky

      its not that amazon has exclusive rights that apple doesnt like. its that amazon can sell stuff on sale and apple would prefer to jack up the prices. same thing thase turds at apple are trying to do to the kindle.

      • thin

        Funny, that’s not what the article says at all. Apparently paul can read, and becky can make stuff up!

    • paul

      The Kindle is the complete opposite situation. Kindle is like iTunes for ebooks. You can only read Kindle books on a Kindle or on your computer with Kindle software no other devices. If at some point in the future Amazon decides to stop supporting Kindle you loose all of your content. There are many other ebook sellers that provide open content PDF and ePub books for cheaper, that you can read on any device or computer. I don’t know what file format Apple is selling on their ebook store but I know you can read any content on their iPad, including Amazon’s format by using the Kindle app.

    • Will

      It’s called creating a monopoly, which is illegal in the U.S.

  • Daryl

    I buy from iTunes but I think it is unfair for them to try and control labels and force them to refuse music to amazon or anyone else. Apple does try to control too much and need to have prying eyes watching them.

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