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Apple delays Scandinavian iTunes reaction

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Apple has been given more time to defend the Digital Rights Management (DRM) in iTunes, which has fallen foul of Scandinavian regulators. It now has until 1 August to prepare its case. The Norwegian Ombudsman ruled in June that the terms and conditions for iTunes were unlawful and have to be changed. The body gave Apple until 21 June to respond to the ruling, but that deadline has been extended until 1 August, said Norway's Consumer Council.

"ITunes/Apple has been given an extension until 1 August," said Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor at the Consumer Council of Norway, the body that took the iTunes case. "We at the Consumer Council had hoped they would reply before the 21 June."

Ombudsmen in Sweden and Denmark are also looking into the issue and are likely to follow Norway's judgment. The Danish authorities are investigating even though they have received no formal complaint. Norwegian, Danish and Swedish law tends to be similar and legal authorities tend to act together in such cases.

The Norwegian Ombudsman ruled in June that the iTunes DRM, which ensures that only home computers and Apple's iPods can play iTunes songs, was illegal and gave the company until 21 June to respond.

Apple has already run into difficulty in France, where a recent copyright law was passed which all but outlawed the iTunes DRM. A last minute amendment created a loophole that will allow Apple to continue with the same technology only with the consent of song copyright holders.

The Ombudsman, whose decisions have the force of a court ruling, had also made other orders which apply immediately and to which Apple will not have the chance to respond. Apple has the right to appeal to the Norwegian courts system on any of the orders.

The other rulings centred on Apple's terms and conditions for the iTunes service. The terms had specified English law as the basis for the agreement and disclaimed liability for any damage done by the service to a user's computer.

The Ombudsman said these terms were unacceptable, that Norwegian law had to apply and that Apple could not discharge its computer-damage liability. Those judgments came into effect immediately.

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