updated 9/15/2004 8:45:49 PM ET 2004-09-16T00:45:49

A consumer's group said Wednesday it has complained to government regulators about the cost of downloading music from Apple's iTunes system.

British buyers are charged 79 pence, or $1.41, for one track, while customers in France and Germany pay euro0.99, or $1.21.

The Consumers' Association said it has written to the Office of Fair Trading, urging an investigation of whether Apple was violating European Union competition rules.

Under European law, U.K. consumers are supposed to enjoy the same benefits of the single market as other citizens in member states.

"There appears to be considerable evidence that the iTunes set-up is prejudiced against the U.K. public and distorts the very basis of the single market," said Phil Evans of the Consumers' Association.

Apple defended its prices.

"The underlying economic model in each country has an impact on how we price our track downloads," Apple said in a statement.

"That's not unusual -- look at the price of CDs in the U.S. versus the U.K," it added, referring to higher prices in Britain.

"We believe the real comparison to be made is with the price of other track downloads in the U.K.," Apple said.

In the United States, Apple charges $0.99, or euro0.81, per song.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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