Apple rights defence insufficient

Just because three major online music retailers bind their music stores to specific portable players doesn't make it acceptable, a Norwegian consumer group leading the charge against Apple's DRM policy said.

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Just because three major online music retailers bind their music stores to specific portable players doesn't make it acceptable, a Norwegian consumer group leading the charge against Apple's digital rights management (DRM) policy said.

"iTunes Music Store and others are unfair to consumers no matter how many download services follow the proprietary approach," wrote Torgeir Waterhouse, a senior advisor at The Norwegian Consumer Council, in response to a letter written by Apple chief Steve Jobs and posted on the Apple Web site on Tuesday.

Jobs examined why DRM exists and discusses alternatives to the current set-up in his open response to calls for Apple to allow users to buy songs from the iTunes store and play them on any device.

Norway's consumer representative has threatened legal action against Apple for violating Norwegian law by limiting iTunes customers to playing their music only on iPods. Consumer groups in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France and Germany have joined Norway's complaint against Apple.

Jobs pointed out that Microsoft and Sony also sell music that can only be played on their players, supporting a model that serves customers well with choice and a continuing stream of innovative products.

He also suggests that groups like Waterhouse's "redirect their energies" toward convincing the music labels to sell music without DRM, technology that aims to restrict how buyers can copy or use the music. The four biggest record labels forced Apple to employ a proprietary DRM system as a condition of the agreement that allows Apple to sell their music, he said.

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