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EU commissioner criticizes iPod-iTunes tie-in

March 12, 2007

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German weekly magazine Focus published European Union consumer chief Meglena Kuneva oppinion on Apple Inc.’s bundling of its popular iPod music players and its iTunes online music store and it was not a very positive one.

“Do you think it’s fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don’t. Something has to change,” EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Kuneva was quoted as saying in a preview of an interview published today.

Pressure on Apple has been building, with consumer rights organisations from Germany, France, Finland and Norway recently agreeing a joint position in their battles against iTunes.

They argue that Apple uses digital rights technology to limit consumers’ free use of songs bought on iTunes, including the ability to copy and transfer songs to other users and other MP3 devices besides the Apple iPod. Both at the national and EU levels, however, the issue has been looked at by consumer agencies rather than the competition watchdogs whose role it is to decide whether a business actitivity violates rules on fair competition.

Norway, a European country that is not in the EU, is battling Apple for the same reason. In January, it said the computer and software giant must liberalise its music download system by Oct. 1 or face legal action.

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