Department of Justice

San Jose, CA — According to many prominent news outlets, including the New York Times and CNET news, Apple is going under the microscope of the US Department of Justice regarding the pricing and promotion of digital music on Apple’s iTunes Stores.

Reports have indicated that DoJ investigators are looking into allegations that Apple used its superior market clout to pressure record labels into refusing Amazon.com exclusive access to pre-released music.

Sources told CNet that Apple threatened to pull promotion of any albums that were a part of Amazon’s “Daily Deal,” and at one point complained to Sony Music about an Amazon deal involving new music from Alicia Keys. CNet’s sources added that the the investigators are more interested in Apple’s overall place of dominance in the digital marketplace than just their issues with Amazon. CNET has more here.

According to an interview conducted by the New York Times, Daniel L. Brown, an antitrust lawyer at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton was quoted as saying, “Certainly if the Justice Department is getting involved, it raises the possibility of potential serious problems down the road for Apple. Without knowing what acts or practices they are targeting, it’s difficult to say exactly how big a problem this is. But it’s probably something Apple is already concerned about.” The New York Times has more here.

According to FMQB radio news, sources noted that this inquiry is still in the very early stages, and that the DOJ often does such research before any formal investigation is launched. FMQB News has more here.

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