iTunes service considered illegal in Norway

By EDRi · June 21, 2006

Following a complaint made by the Norwegian Consumer Council in January this
year, Bjorn Erik Thon, the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman has ruled that the
Apple iTunes service breaks section 9a of the Norwegian Marketing Control

The Consumer Ombudsman considers as unreasonable that the agreement the
consumer must accept is regulated by the foreign law and that iTunes
disclaims any liability for a possible damage the software may cause.

He also thinks that just like Apple requires an iPod for songs via iTunes,
other companies producing music, book or film could restrict their products
to specific players as well and believes that this could be an infringement
of rights.

“You will have a difficult situation for the consumer … the consumer has
to have four or five gadgets to have the availability of the content that he
wants,” stated Thon considering a consumer should have the right to use a
product on any device he chooses.

Senior advisor Torgeir Waterhouse of the Consumer Council stated that
contract terms, technical blocks or other types of legal protection show a
tendency to restrict the consumer rights as well as their access to cultural

“The digital rights of consumers have been dictated by the industry for a
long time. This decision marks the start of a struggle to recover them,”
said Waterhouse.

The decision of the Ombudsman brings Norway closer to the position of other
countries in this matter such as France and the UK. It seems Denmark and
Sweden will follow this position in requiring iTunes to be modified in order
to do business in their countries.

Apple representatives expressed their hope that they would not have to pull
out of Norway and their wish to find a solution to this issue.

According to the experts, this will not be an easy matter as Apple, in case
it did not create its DRM system only to force the use of a certain device,
may be bound by license agreements with the music industry and thus is not
in the position to just cancel its DRM policies and open its content.

iTunes must change the terms and conditions of their agreements in order to
comply with the Norwegian law by 1 August, an extension from 21 June, or
face fines.

iTunes guilty of breaking Norwegian law (7.06.2006)

The Consumer Council of Norway is on track to win case against iTunes

Norwegian ombudsman says Apple’s iTunes DRM is illegal (7.06.2006)

Can Europe Force Apple To Rework iTunes? (16.06.2006)

European officials cautious on iTunes antitrust (16.06.2006)