Norway rebuffs Jobs on DRM overture

The Norwegian Consumer Council, Forbrukerrdet, has rebuffed Apple's efforts to fend off a legal challenge to its use of digital rights management technology in iTunes, despite Steve Jobs' call for an end to copy protection on music downloads

The Countil insists that the statement does not affect its attempt to force Apple to remove restrictions from the iTunes Store.

Forbrukerrdet's senior adviser Torgeir Waterhouse said that Jobs' anti-DRM urgings do not change the fact that it is still Apple, not record labels, that sells music which is compatible with just one brand of portable player, Apple's own iPods.

Waterhouse said that Jobs has turned the issue on its head by pointing out that iPod owners are not tied to the iTunes Store (although he continues to refer to it by its old, longer iTunes Music Store moniker) as they can get music from other sources such as CDs. The issue, he said, is the opposite: iTunes Store customers are locked into the iPod. And the fact that Apple is not the only company with closed system makes no difference.

'The fact remains that both iTunes Music Store and others are unfair to consumers no matter how many download services follow the proprietary approach,' Waterhouse said.

The normally coy Jobs, Apple's chief executive, made the call in an almost unheard of exposure of his innermost thoughts in an article on Apple's website, urging opponents of Apple's use of DRM to concentrate on persuading record companies to sell their music DRM-free, which he said Apple would 'embrace wholeheartedly'.

But Waterhouse insists that the record industry's insistence on DRM is irrelevant. Apple, he said, is 'still the company that's selling music to the consumers and are responsible for offering the consumer a fair deal according to Norwegian law'.

Norway's consumer ombudsman ruled last month that sections of iTunes' terms and conditions are illegal and gave Apple until October to prepare its response.