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by Mike Zazaian January 25, 2007 - 4:36pm, 12 Comments

An Apple Store logo
Consumer protection agencies from Norway and the Netherlands have threatened to take legal action against Apple unless iTunes file-sharing limitations are lifted by later this year.

Consumer protection czar Bjoern Erik Thon, or ombudsman, as its called in Norway, has demanded that Apple make its iTunes media download suite compatible with non-iPod mp3 players or face legal action. According to Thon the Norwegian government will impose fines on Apple if these requests are not met by October 1st of this year. Added Thon:

iTunes is imposing unreasonable and unbalanced restrictions that are not in accordance with Norwegian law.

Similarly, Netherlands consumer protection group Consumentenbond has requested that Dutch antitrust watchdog NMa investigate what were referred to as illegal practices in a formal complaint filing. The Netherlands has given Apple an identical timeline in which to comply.

What we want from Apple is that they remove the limitations that prevent you from playing a song you download from iTunes on any player other than an iPod, said Consumentenbondvan spokesman Ewald van Kouwen. When you buy a music CD it doesn’t play only on players made by Panasonic. People who download a song from iTunes shouldn’t be bound to an iPod for the rest of their lives.

Norway was the first European country to take action against Apple’s iTunes dominance when it filed a formal complaint last June. Since then consumer agencies in Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany and Finland have made similar complaints, and have joined together to find resolution for the matter.

French consumer agency UFC-Que Choisir has been the most active in the fight against the iTunes monopoly. The lobbyist organization championed a law that forced Apple to license its software and hardware to French businesses, which was put into place last August.

And while each country has chosen to deal with the matter in its own way, the general attitudes toward Apple’s policies are largely the same. From a joint statement issued by governments from the aforementioned countries:

We believe consumers have a right to play material purchased online on a portable device of their own choice. Contract clauses that make this impossible or too inconvenient are unfair and should be revoked.

Read the Associated Press
Also read Reuters