Government investigating Apple over iTunes music anti-trust?

The New York Times is reporting that the Justice Department is taking a look at Apple's conduct in the digital music space:

people briefed on the inquiries also said 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 exclusive access to music about to be released.

This goes back to a story in March about Amazon asking for 24hrs of exclusivity on certain new music tracks in exchange for prominently featuring those tracks on Amazon MP3. Apple reportedly asked labels not to give Amazon that exclusivity, and withdrew their own marketing support for those who made the deal with Amazon.

This is also comes on the heels of rumored DoJ/FTC questions about Apple's banning of cross-compilers in the iPhone OS 4 SDK.

Whether or not these investigations become serious, they do show the government has increased interest in Apple and their businesses.

Question of the night goes to Seth from 9to5Mac:

Perhaps while they are at it, the DoJ should look into at why four companies, that are often in cahoots, control 95% of the music production in the US?

We'd add the carriers and cable companies to that list.

[New York Times, 9to5Mac]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Government investigating Apple over iTunes music anti-trust?


Although Jobs has contributed money to the DNC and other prominent democrats, he didn't contribute any money to Obama's Presidential campaign.
Obama: "Apple made how much last year?" "And he didn't give me any?" "Looks like we need to investigate his arse!"
The big O has his sights on you Steve.

CJ... That's just the opposite of Bush...
Bush: “Apple made how much last year and gave me X,XXX,XXX?” “Looks like we need to investigate Amazon!”

Apple holds a DOMINANT market share (and mind share) of the MP3 download industry and didn't want to see publishers hold music FROM THEM and give it exclusively to their smaller competitor Amazon? Nothing will come of this. This isn't Apple saying "new albums come to iTunes first, 24 hours exclusive or we won't carry it". This is Apple saying "hey, we're your #1 online retailer, we would like the music the same day as Amazon, or we're going to be at a disadvantage, and will focus our marketing to another label." If that's anti-trust, I better go back to school.

"Apple reportedly asked labels not to give Amazon that exclusivity, and withdrew their own marketing support for those who made the deal with Amazon."
Unless there is a contract preventing Apple from pulling out of doing business with these record labels I don't see what the problem is.

I think there is nothing wrong with apples tactics its what I would call capitalism at its finest.

Maybe th DoJ should pay more attention to companies like LiveNation and how they are ruining the live music scene. I can pick up recorded music anytime, but I would rather no have to take out a second morgatge and sign over my a yet unborn child just to see a true music legend.

Who cares? Seems trivial. As a customer who is voluntarily dependent on iTunes I applaud Apple's effort to have music available simultaneously as everyone else. Antitrust? I know nothing about the law but I will say alot of people are interested in Apple after they have achieved success. Look at their overall marketshare. It's miniscule. People are jealous of their profits. Haterz.

Anti-trust? Aren't there more than one online music places? If so, then give up. if people have a choice as to where to buy goods and services, then that doesn't fall under the anti-trust rules.
Now if Microsoft jiggled their API's around to not allow Apple's iTunes to run under Windows, then that would fall under the anti-trust rules.

Have they (JD) got nothing better to do with their time? I do not understand this continual "persecution" of one of Americas most popular and successful companies. Just because they make and have lots of cash they seem to be on everybody's hit list.
If you don't like Apple stuff don't buy it, its called choice!

Leave the lawyering to the professionals. There are numerous types of antitrust complaints that do not require a monopoly, just a dominant market position and specific types of behavior.
"Now if Microsoft jiggled their API’s around to not allow Apple’s iTunes to run under Windows, then that would fall under the anti-trust rules"
Aren't there more than one place to run iTunes? If so, then give up.
"Now if Apple jiggled their policies around to not allow native code written in another language to be installed on iPhone OS, that would fall under anti-trust rules"
Pot, meet kettle.