State attorneys general are probing into whether Apple colluded with music labels to restrain competition for streaming music services. Fred Katayama reports.
Apple is facing antitrust scrutiny again. The Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut are investigating whether Apple violated antitrust laws in negotiating with music labels for its new streaming service. The news comes just after Apple launched Apple Music on Monday. At issue: whether the music companies colluded to restrain competition and the availability of free music streaming services like those offered by Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. Apple Music is a paid subscription service. Through its lawyers, Universal Music said in a letter to New York's AG that it did not make any agreements with Apple or rivals Sony and Warner to impede the availability of free or ad-supported music streaming services. A spokesman for the New York AG, Matt Mittenthal, said, "This letter is part of an investigation of the music streaming business .... it's important to ensure that the market continues to develop free from collusion and other anticompetitive practices." The European Union is also looking into Apple's streaming deals with record labels, and Bloomberg earlier reported that the Federal Trade Commission is probing Apple over its new music service, too. Apple has had brushes with antitrust law before. Two years ago, a federal judge ruled it had conspired with big publishers to raise prices of e-books. In December, a jury decided Apple did not act improperly when it restricted music purchases for iPod users to its iTunes store.