Apple faces legal action from EU nations over iTunes lock-in

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Apple iTunes logoApple is coming under increasing pressure from several EU nations who want to force the company to unlock its iTunes software to make it operable with third-party (ie not iPod) MP3 players.

Organisations representing France, Germany, Finland, and Norway, are uniting their individual legal efforts to get Apple to remove its DRM (Digital Rights Management) locks.

Meanwhile, the Norweigian government has given Apple until 1st March to say whether it will change its DRM policy to allow iTunes to operate with other MP3 players; the lock-in has been deemed illegal under Norweigian law. By 1st October, Apple must show how it plans to implement changes to its DRM.

The ferocious four reckon there are three options open to Apple, none of which would fill the company with joy:

1. Persuade record companies to abandon DRM (yeah right)
2. License its DRM technology to other hardware manufacturers.
3. Work with others to make a common DRM standard – yes that includes Microsoft.

Of course, they haven’t mentioned the option of Apple simply pulling its service out of countries that mount challenges against iTunes. No offence, but I’d imagine that these European countries aren’t Apple’s biggest market, and we all know how true to North America Apple is at heart.

What do you think?

Related stories: CES 2007: DRM clashes set for centre stage | Yahoo offers MP3 download free from DRM | Anti-DRM day: October 3rd. Let’s protest!

Andy Merrett