US antitrust chiefs are urging their foreign equivalents not to be too hasty in placing local regulatory hurdles in the way of Apple and its iTunes/iPod ecosystem.

A Reuters report explains that Justice Department antitrust chief Thomas Barnett sees overseas scrutiny of Apple as "misguided enforcement".

Barnett is responding to recent moves in France and across the Nordic states to interfere in Apple's plans, in the name of "interoperability".

In France, local regulators want consumers to be able to play iTunes purchases on any music player, and want iPods to be able to play songs bought from services outside iTunes.

Barnett sees such regulation as "over-zealous", warning that it "threatens to harm the very consumers it claims to help". He also thinks such laws my stifle innovation within the still young digital media market.

"Apple should be applauded for creating a legal, profitable and easy-to-use system for downloading music and other entertainment via the internet," Reuters reports the anti-trust chief as saying.

At its root, its a competition between Microsoft and Apple to offer the de facto standard for digital rights management. Behind that quest stand the music and movie houses, who insist on DRM because they think it helps them combat piracy.

This view isn't shared by independents from those industries, who are happy to allow services, such as eMusic, to offer music for digital sale in the completely interoperable MP3 format.

Apple is now the number one music download service in all 21 countries in which it has an iTunes service.

European regulator, the director general of competition at the EC, was at the debate to hear Barnett's remarks. He later told Reuters that he shares Barnett's concerns about regulation against iTunes.