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Apple’s World Power in Question

Apple’s dominance in the music world has prompted this week’s heated negotiations with a number of European governments and consumer rights organizations.

The negotiations have taken Apple executives to Paris, where government representatives from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland have come to discuss iTunes’ dominance in downloadable music. Representatives argue that Apple’s music sale methods are unethical, citing that the sale of music or video in formats exclusive to the iPod product is a violation of art, and threatens both the sharing and longevity of cultural materials.

The accusations against Apple were led by French legislators who promote “interoperability” in music –- they feel that music should not legally be sold if it is compatible with only one product. Legislators from several European countries are seeking to stop the sale of Apple-exclusive iTunes and promote music and videos that can be enjoyed on any digital device.

Of course, Europeans aren’t the only ones angered by Apple’s monopoly; many in the United States feel strongly about the universal exchange of music, and for the past two years, the European Commission has investigated inflated prices of iTunes in the United Kingdom.

The proponents of music interoperability have a good point — if digital media is made available in a universal format, artists and consumers alike stand a better chance at getting what they want. The market for artists will be healthier, and the selection for music and video purchasers will be broader.

However, some say this debate could result in government-controlled music standardization, resulting in a technology blockade that could prevent would-be artists from breaking onto the scene.

What do you think? Does Apple have too much of a Monopoly?