The voices against the exclusivity of the iPod and iTunes relationship in Europe are beginning to rise and anticipate the need for some response measures by Apple.
After the controversy last year that resulted from the practice of different prices for the iTunes service in some European countries (namely France and the United Kingdom), the company now faces new accusations of illegality regarding the fact that its music service online only work on the brand’s music players, iPods.
The most recent complaint came from consumer protection agencies in Norway and Sweden who consider this exclusivity to be illegal under their local laws.
In an interview with a local newspaper, a spokesman for the Norwegian consumer association said the illegality of the integration between service and equipment, stressing that the company will have to remove restrictions that prevent users from using music players from other brands to listen to tracks purchased on iTunes.
The Consumer Ombudsman Office in Norway, a government authority that analyzes the business practices of companies operating in the country, even wrote a letter to iTunes outlining its main concerns.
The letter mentions issues such as the possibility for Apple to change the terms of the agreement with the user without prior notice, or the company’s liability for contamination of PCs with viruses during the download of songs.
Sweden has moved forward with a similar initiative. «We share Norway’s position and write a letter parallel to iTunes,» admits Marianne Abyhammar, a member of the Swedish consumer protection agency.
Also in the UK, an association representing the country’s music industry, the British Phonographic Industry, argued with a parliamentary committee last Tuesday that iTunes should be compatible with other music devices, in an intervention that was the first made publicly defending that position.
For now Apple officials in Norway and the United Kingdom do not comment on the matter, although a Norwegian website cited by C | Net refers to an official statement by Apple saying that the company wants to resolve the situation «without ending operations in Scandinavia».
In France, the law that has divided Parliament in recent months provides that Apple and other companies with music services online share copy protection technologies in order to increase the range of equipment compatible with each service.
2006-05-12 – France creates regulator to supervise interoperability of digital music formats