Germany, France Join Crusade Against iTunes

    January 23, 2007

Consumer groups from France and Germany have joined a European coalition aimed at forcing Apple to make files downloaded from its iTunes music store compatible with digital music players manufactured by competing companies.

In June 2006, consumer advocate groups in Norway, Denmark and Sweden asserted that Apple was in breach of copyright laws in their countries by making iPods the only music players able to play songs that have been purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

This week, France and Germany also added their names to the list of countries banding together to take on Apple and iTunes in the war to topple Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.

“This is important because Germany and France are European giants,” Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon told the Associated Press. “Germany, in particular, is a big market for digital music.”

“Apple is aware of the concerns we’ve heard from several agencies in Europe and we’re looking forward to resolving these issues as quickly as possible,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr in a statement.

“Apple hopes that European governments will encourage a competitive environment that lets innovation thrive, protects intellectual property and allows consumers to decide which products are successful.”

Originally, the Norwegian led coalition has given Apple until September 2007 to change its DRM policy, or face potential legal action and/or fines in several European nations.

The group concedes that the eight-month window is necessary, because Apple may need time to draft new policies and re-negotiate contracts with the major record labels concerning pricing and royalty compensation.

France passed its own law in August of 2006, allowing regulators to force Apple into making iTunes compatible with music players made by rival companies.

As we progress into the new year, I expect more European nations to get on board with this movement, which will compel Apple to seriously rethink its DRM policies in regards to the iTunes music store.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.