Apple could face legal action by the Norwegian government in March if the company refuses to unlock its iTunes online music store from its iPod media player.
The government ombudsman has given iTunes until 1 March to say if it will agree to change its restrictive DRM (digital rights management) policy, according to Torgier Waterhouse, senior advisor to the Norwegian Consumer Council. If the online music store doesn't show an inclination to change its DRM policy by then, the dispute could go directly to the Marketing Council, the first step in the Norwegian legal process, he said.
"It's now clear that iTunes must remove its illegal lock-in technology or face legal action," Waterhouse said.
In two rulings, the most recent delivered earlier this month, the ombudsman said the iTunes DRM model violates Norwegian law, according to Waterhouse. Last year the government body wrote to Apple requesting changes, but the results failed to sway Norwegian officials, he said.
The ombudsman has set a second deadline, 1 October, for iTunes to show how it plans to implement changes to its DRM.
One year has passed since the Norwegian Consumer Council, which represents consumer interests, filed a complaint about iTunes.
On Monday, the Norwegians aligned with German, French and Finnish consumer groups to strengthen pressure on Apple to loosen its restrictive DRM business model for all of Europe.