Apple Squares Off Against Norway

By refusing to make iTunes compatible with non-iPods, it is merely protecting the rights of artists, the tech titan claims

Apple has responded to complaints by Norway's consumer watchdog - that it uses unfair practices by making its iTunes service incompatible with rivals systems - by refuting the claims and championing its use of DRM.

Norway's consumer council complained to Apple earlier this year that iTunes' lack of interoperability with digital music players other than the iPod was not in the best interests of consumers. The watchdog said consumers must be allowed to transfer their iTunes-bought songs to the MP3 player of their choice, both now and in the future.

Apple has now filed its response to the complaint, telling the regulator it isn't behaving unfairly, rather it's protecting the interests of the individuals whose music it sells.

Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor with the consumer council, refuted the idea. "It's very difficult to see how locking consumers into the iPod is preserving the rights of any given artist... It's just not replying to [the complaint]. Apple are trying to smokescreen it away," he said.

Waterhouse said other elements of its objections to Apple's business practices, such as its ability to change terms of service after purchase and have them retroactively apply to downloads, had been responded to positively by the company.

He added: "The reply from them is a good start but it's a very, very long way to go before we can say we're satisfied."

The response is still being reviewed and there has been no decision at present by the ombudsman on what the next step will be. However, if it's found that Apple isn't complying with the ombudsman's wishes, the company could face court.

Waterhouse said Apple appears unmoveable on the issue of DRM and he expects a "long struggle" over the issue.