updated 06:55 pm EST, Wed February 4, 2009
Norway drops iTunes issues
Norway's consumer watchdog has put an end to the lengthy conflict with Apple regarding iTunes DRM restrictions, according to the AFP. The Market Council opposed the anti-piracy protection because of the incompatibility with MP3 players other than Apple's own iPod line. The company recently ignored a November 3rd deadline imposed by the Ombudsman, Bjoern Erik Thon, who threatened to take the case before the Market Council if all iTunes tracks were not made compatible with other media players.
Although Apple has largely ignored the European criticism, Steve Jobs in 2007 shifted the DRM blame to the record labels and claimed that Apple would actually prefer protection-free music and "would embrace it in a heartbeat." Jobs also pointed out the futility of the labels' stance, observing that the same content that is protected as an MP3 is also available unprotected on CDs.
The Norwegian agency responded to the open letter by shifting the responsibility back onto Apple's shoulders. "[Steve Jobs] also goes on to turn the whole issue on its head by stating iPod owners are not locked into [the] iTunes Music Store - the issue our complaint [addresses] is of course the opposite, iTunes Music Store customers are locked to the iPod," the statement said.
Giving credibility to Jobs' statements, the company recently negotiated with the big three record companies to offer 10 million iTunes Plus tracks without DRM restrictions by the end of the first quarter. In return, Apple backed away from strict pricing of $.99 per track, allowing a slightly flexible structure that could provide higher profits for sales of popular singles.
The changes appear to have alleviated the concerns of the Market Council. "We have no reason to pursue them anymore," Thon told the AFP.