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German and French consumer groups have joined a Nordic-led drive to force Apple Inc. to make its iTunes online store compatible with digital music players made by rival companies, a Norwegian official said Monday.
Currently, song purchased and downloaded through iTunes are designed to work with Apple's market-leading iPod players but not competitors' models, including those using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media system.
Likewise, iPods generally can't play copy-protected music sold through non-Apple stores.
Last June, consumer agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden claimed that Apple was violating contract and copyright laws in their countries.
Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon said French consumer lobby UFC-Que Choisir and its German counterpart, Ferbraucherzentralen, joined the effort late last year, and other European countries are considering it.
Finland's Kuluttajavirasto consumer group is also part of the effort.
Thon said Norway gave Apple until September to change its polices, or face possible legal action and fines in the country.
A French law that allows regulators to force Apple to make its iPod player and iTunes store compatible with rival offerings went into effect in August.
Italy's top criminal court has ruled that downloading music, movies and software over the Internet isn't a crime if profit wasn't the motivation, though analysts questioned Monday whether the ruling would have much effect on copyright laws.
The court's decision, issued earlier this month but reported over the weekend by the Italian media, overturns earlier convictions against two former Turin Polytechnic Institute students who set up in 1994 a peer-to-peer, file-sharing network that was shut down within months.
They were found guilty of illegal duplication and given a one-year sentence, which was reduced to three months on appeal, defense lawyer Carlo Blengino said.
The top criminal court in Rome threw out the convictions, ruling that it was not a crime to download computer files from such networks if there was no financial gain.