After initiating proceedings against Apple in 2006, five consumer organisations have decided to join forces to defend European users of that firm's music downloading site, iTunes.

Their demands are fuelling the current debate on the use of digital rights management (DRM), the technology used to restrict consumers' right to listen to musical works bought on the internet, to set the authorised number of copies and to monitor transfers to other digital media. While the major players do not seem prepared to give up DRM and the electronics industry praises it to the skies in the hope of abolishing rights on private copying, the anti-DRM movement denounces the restrictions on use, in particular the lack of compatibility between different technologies (interoperability). In fact, Apple's iPod digital music player dominates the global market, but does not allow users to buy protected music anywhere other than the iTunes site.

"Interoperability is a condition for development of the online music supply," note the Norwegian, Danish and Finnish consumer group representatives, acting together with the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) and UFC-Que Choisir in France. They are demanding:

- interoperability between Apple's products and other media, before the end of September 2007, to "give consumers free choice in the music players used to listen to music files bought online". According to the coalition, the US group "can negotiate DRM-free...

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