Apple Appeals Against EU’s $2bn Music Streaming Fine

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Appeal begins appeal against European Commission’s €1.84bn fine over Apple’s alleged ‘anti-competitive’ music streaming restrictions

Apple has begun its appeal against the huge fine recently imposed by the European Commission, over allegations of ‘anti-competitive’ music streaming restrictions.

Apple in March had been fined more than 1.8 billion euros (£1.6bn) by the European Commission, which had alleged there was an abuse of Apple’s dominant position for music streaming with its App Store. Apple at the time said it would appeal.

The fine was Apple’s first financial penalty for infringing EU antitrust rules, although the iPhone maker had been hit by a 1.1bn euro penalty in France in 2020 for allegedly restricting competition, which was later reduced to 372m euros on appeal.

Apple's retail store in Pudang, Shanghai. Image credit: Apple
Apple’s retail store in Pudang, Shanghai. Image credit: Apple

Music streaming

The EU clash with Apple began back in May 2021, when the European Commission charged Apple with violating antitrust rules over its App Store rules for music streaming services.

European Commission officials then reportedly considered filing an additional EU antitrust charges against Apple over music streaming.

The central thrust of Spotify’s official complaint filed in March 2019 was that Apple unfairly limits rivals to its own Apple Music streaming service, and the large fee that Apple charges for all purchases via its app store.

Spotify used to sell subscriptions via the web only in order to avoid Apple’s commissions of typically 30 percent, but in January 2024 Spotify began allowing in-app purchases on iPhones.

Now Apple has followed through on its intention to appeal, and has begun its challenge at the EU’s second-highest court against the huge EC fine.

The Commission had said the fine was 0.5 percent of Apple’s global turnover.

Reuters noted that a ruling by the Luxembourg-based General Court could take several years, while an appeal against its judgement to the Court of Justice of the European Union (Europe’s top court), could drag out the litigation by a few more years.

Digital Markets Act

Apple and other large tech companies had been announcing changes ahead of the 6 March deadline for compliance with new Big Tech rules under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

But in March Spotify and 33 other companies in a range of digital sectors wrote to the European Commission that the new terms suggested by Apple “make a mockery of the DMA“.

In January Spotify had said new developer fees announced by Apple as part of the compliance efforts were “outrageous”.