Apple, Norway Headed for iTunes DRM Showdown

Norway's Consumer Ombudsman has ruled that Apple's digital rights management and its refusal to support competing music services on the popular iPod are illegal in the country.

A complaint was filed with ombudsman Erik Thon by Forbrukerradet, the Norwegian Consumer Council. It argued that Apple's FairPlay was illegal in the country. According to previous statements by the Norwegian government, interoperability is a requirement for operation.

Forbrukerradet has won its case against Apple, with Thon siding with the group. The Cupertino company has been contacted about the decision, and must either remove the DRM or appear in court, the latter being the more likely outcome.

Apple has three options according to the group: license FairPlay, join with other companies to develop an open standard, or abandon DRM altogether. The company has until September to comply, otherwise facing fines or legal action.

Given Apple's past comments, it appears as if none of those options are likely. What will likely result is a court showdown between the Scandinavian country and Apple. The resulting decision could mean much to Apple's future in Europe.

Consumer groups from both France and Germany have joined the effort, possibly signaling any decision in Norway could reverberate throughout the rest of the European Union.

"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," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told the Associated Press recently.

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