Norway gives Apple deadline to open up iTunes DRM

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Norway’s Consumer Council has given Apple until November to open up iTunes to allow its music to be playable in other MP3 players or it will face official sanctions, after giving then two years to meet the demand set by the council after Apple broke Norwegian law.

Under Norway’s Marketing Control Act, users who buy digital media are allowed to use the media in any device they choose. Apple, currently, does not license its iTunes DRM, also known as FairPlay, to anyone other than itself; unlike Microsoft, who has allowed many players to play its PlaysForSure DRM for Windows Media Player, except its own Zune player.

Two years later, Apple has opened up some of its content to be non-DRM under its iTunes Plus format, including content from EMI and many independent labels; though Steve Jobs made his position on DRM very clear in an open letter titled “Thoughts on Music”, saying that Apple wants to sell DRM-free music, but the record labels make the final decision.

However, the predicament that faces between Apple and Norway is very complex, as both sides have fair points in their dispute; where you can just buy music from other stores like eMusic and Amazon’s MP3 Store – which has DRM-free music from all major labels; rip the DRM tracks into a CD or just buy iTunes Plus tracks.

This, according to Consumer Ombudsman Bjørn Erik Thon, is a “test case” for the Consumer Council, as the Norwegian law does allow companies to change their practises before issuing fines if they don’t comply. This case could see Apple shutting down the Norwegian store or just remove the content that has DRM on it – providing a serious domino effect in other EU countries; like Finland, Denmark, France, Germany and The Netherlands, who have said that Apple should open up the music to other players.

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