Currently, songs purchased and downloaded through iTunes are designed to work with Apple’s market-leading iPod players but not competitors’ models, including those using Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media system. Likewise, iPods generally can’t play copy-protected music sold through non-Apple stores.
Last June, consumer agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden claimed that Apple was violating contract and copyright laws in their countries. Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon said French consumer lobby UFC-Que Choisir and its German counterpart, Ferbraucherzentralen, joined the effort late last year, and other European countries are considering it. Finland’s Kuluttajavirasto consumer group is also part of the effort.
Thon said Norway gave Apple until September to change its polices, or face possible legal action and fines in the country. A French law that allows regulators to force Apple to make its iPod player and iTunes store compatible with rival offerings went into effect in August. Apple has been working to expand its iPod sales in Europe and said during its quarterly report last week its advertising and sales efforts were paying off. Company officials say the iPod gained market share in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Denmark during the holiday period.