Major record labels have been annoyed with Apple for the way it prices music in the iTunes store, but with its power in the market, there's not a lot they can do. They will, however, continue to point the finger, now blaming Apple for flat download sales, saying its insistence on an across-the-board price of 99 cents per song is stunting growth. Other "critics" -- or rather a single critic, with BusinessWeek quoting the CEO of Apple rival Napster -- cite Apple's copy-protection technology and its refusal to let anybody else use it, which locks competing services out of iPods. What's slightly amusing is that, again, it was the big record labels' obsession with copy protection that gave Apple all this power. The labels act like there's nothing they can do if Apple tells them no, other than pull their music from iTunes, which they won't do given its role as market leader. There is something they can do -- open up their own store, and sell unrestricted MP3 files at whatever price they want. iPods, and and pretty much any other digital music player, can play those files. The labels' insistence on trying to control what people can do with the music they buy has gotten them into this mess, and it will take a reversal of that position to get them out.
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