Apple's Rumored Streaming Music Service gets DOJ Attention

Apple's rumored Beats-based streaming music service has fallen under the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Justice over concerns that the company is abusing its market strength. The DOJ is looking into claims that Apple has been working to get music labels to drop their free tiers with Spotify when they renew their licensing agreements.

DOJ Apple deals in rumored streaming music service launchDOJ Apple deals in rumored streaming music service launch

Insider sources also claim Apple is willing to pay Universal Music Group the licensing fee it gets from YouTube to get the record label to pull its music library content from the site, according to The Verge.

Apple is apparently making aggressive moves in the streaming music market as a ploy to better position its own streaming music service when it launches later this year. "All the way up to Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat," one insider source said.

Reports of the DOJ inquiry could seem a little surprising considering the court appointed monitor from Apple's ebook antitrust trial is still in place. There isn't, however, any indication right now that he's in a position to be aware of Apple's dealing with record labels.

Federal Judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of antitrust violations related to allegations that the iPhone and iPad maker collaborated with publishers to artificially raise the price of books.

As part of the ruling Judge Cote appointed a monitor to oversee Apple's business deals and ensure no antitrust activities were taking place. The monitor was appointed without Apple's consent, and the company has maintained it never engaged in antitrust activities, or that it did anything wrong.

News of the DOJ's activity follows a similar report from the European Union. EU regulators have been questioning record labels and digital music companies about their deals with Apple. There isn't any official word on why the questioning is taking place, but it's a safe bet someone—or some organization—filed a formal complaint.

Neither has launched a formal investigation into Apple's practices, but it's clear someone is concerned about Apple's potential impact on the streaming music market.