By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated May 26, 2010 at 03:24 PM EDT
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Today’s New York Times reports that the U.S. Justice Department has begun inquiring into the way that Apple sells music online. At issue, it seems, is the ongoing contest between the iTunes Music Store and Amazon.com: The Times‘ anonymous sources say that “investigators had asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon.com exclusive access to music about to be released.”

Apple certainly does wield a mighty market share. The Times cites figures showing that 69 percent of all online music sales in the U.S. go through iTunes. Amazon takes second place — with a measly eight percent of the MP3 market. Have Apple’s efforts to stay at No. 1 crossed a legal line? These are early days for the Justice Department’s reported investigation, so it may be some time before we have a definitive answer. A rep for Apple did not respond to the Music Mix’s request for comment.

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