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Apple May Win Music Price Fight

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Although much credit has been given to Apple CEO Steve Jobs for digging in against music labels and their calls for variable music pricing, the labels may have had self-interest in mind in backing away from those demands.

It looks like 99 cents will endure as the price of a single on iTunes, just the way Jobs wanted it. A frequently public battle between Jobs and the powerful music labels, especially the spirited name-calling between Jobs and Warner Music head Edgar Bronfman, Jr, has been going on for several months.

Recently the tide of battle seemed to turn in Jobs’ favor. The music labels were going to back off; Apple has won the day, and it’s just a matter of time for them to get together and announce how they just had the music fans’ interests in mind all the time.

The New York Post reported on the apparent change of heart from the music labels, who threw out a few parting shots about variable pricing being the wave of the future.

But before grabbing a board and surfing that wave, the music labels have a legal headache to handle first. Two rulings coming from Judge Marilyn Hall Patel’s bench at the U.S. District Court for Northern California indicate three music labels were less than forthcoming with key information related to digital music sales and copyright infringement cases.

In one ruling, it seems Universal Music Group and EMI Group held back from giving the Justice Department everything it requested in 2001, during the digital music sales investigation. Patel wants both businesses to hand over the documents and communication they withheld at that time, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The labels’ sudden change of heart on single pricing by iTunes and the court rulings (the other concerned Bertelsmann AG, which formerly owned the BMG music label and was an investor in the original Napster) took place a day apart. Perhaps a prolonged, public fight with Jobs would have continued to keep attention focused on the labels, instead of the moneymaking stars they create.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Apple May Win Music Price Fight
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