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Regulators Taking a Look at Apple’s Practices?

Apple is known to be a tough negotiator.  How tough, and whether some behaviors cross the line of appropriateness is a question regulators are apparently looking into.

New reports citing “people familiar” suggest the government anti-trust regulators are inquiring about whether Apple’s dealings with music labels have been inappropriate.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported one of the questions on investigators minds is whether Apple tried to keep the record labels from giving Amazon’s rival music download store exclusive access to some new releases.

Antitrust staff from the DOJ has reportedly contacted several music labels as well as some internet music startups.

The interviews are considered “preliminary” and at this time there is no formal investigation.   Still, regulators are clearing keeping a close watch on Apple; an apparent reaction to the dominance the company has established in many of its markets.

Last year, FTC scrutiny over the sharing of board members led Google CEO Eric Schmidt to resign from Apple’s board. 

More recently, the FTC and DOJ have been reported to be discussing the Apple’s application development license terms.    With all the public debate over Apple’s exclusion of Adobe flash from its mobile platforms there’s also rumor, Apple’s practices there may get some review.

[Update 6/12 – Reports are now circulating that the FTC is set to begin a formal investigation into Apple’s exclusion of certain software from its iOS (Flash, for instance).   That alongside a newly announced International Trade Commission  investigation into HTC patent violation claims against Apple, and a rising public debate over Apple’s upcoming iAds policies suggests a busy few months for  Apple’s legal department]

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