Japanese iTMS Faces Record Label Opposition

Japanese Mac users and iPod fans eager to jump on the iTunes Music Store bandwagon may still have a good deal of waiting in store. According to the Japanese daily Asahi, Apple and local labels are still far from reaching any sort of licensing agreement.

At issue are price and copy protection -- the cornerstones of digital music distribution. Japanese record labels oppose selling individual tracks for anything less than 200 yen, almost double the 99 cents Apple charges its U.S. customers and more than 50 percent higher than European iTunes Music Stores. Labels are also resistant to granting users the ability to burn tracks to CD, fearing that capability, especially when combined with lower prices, will cannibalize CD sales.

Yoshiaki Sakito, Appleis vice president of marketing, told Asahi he hopes the popularity of the iPod will eventually help Apple bring the iTunes Music Store to Japan on terms agreeable to all parties. "The record companies wonit be able to swim against the tide forever," he said.

Apple currently offers the iTunes Music Store in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany. Additional European stores are expected to debut by the end of October.