A host of European countries are concerned about iTunes music downloads and how they only play on the iPod. The latest to speak up is Holland where the Dutch authorities have said;
“What we want from Apple is that they remove the limitations that prevent you from playing a song you download from iTunes on any player other than an iPod. When you buy a music CD it doesn’t play only on players made by Panasonic. People who download a song from iTunes shouldn’t be bound to an iPod for the rest of their lives.”
France has had issues with iTunes as well, but their remedy was largely left toothless in the end. Recently however other nations are starting to take interest. Germany and Finland have started to look at the issue and the Scandinavian countries are considering legal action with Norway in the lead.
In fact, Norway declared iTunes illegal this week. This means less than meets the eye, not having snow tires on your car is also illegal in Winter in Scandinavia. Lots of laws, little consequence.
Still, Apple is now officially in violation of consumer protection laws in Norway, this is the first time this has happened anywhere and is a bit embarrassing for all parties really. First for Apple because they should be allowing their customers freedom of choice, and second because Norway never acted against Microsoft when they had/have a similar set of DRM protection on their music downloads. One of the reasons why Norway did not go after Microsoft is that they are mostly a non-player in the download music market in Europe, Apple has a very dominant position.
Apple has until October 1 of 2007 to fix this issue or a group of European consumer protection agencies will be rather upset indeed. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a consumer ombudsman’s ire, you know how painful it can be. I am sure Apple is addressing this “state sponsored piracy” with due haste.