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Apple attacked by Vikings

Regulators representing the Nordic states are set to meet in Reykjavik, Iceland later this this month. They are unlikely to be wearing hats with horns on – that was a myth – but they will be discussing legal action against Apple. They're specifically unhappy about the download restrictions of the iTunes music store.

So is Steve Jobs about to be set adrift in a burning longship? Should the residents of Cupertino be hunkering down in anticipation of an incoming pillage? Unlikely. In fact, the regulators will discuss whether to file an international lawsuit against Apple, and whether this should be a joint or an independent action.

So, aside from the impending disappearence of the sun for a few months, what's their beef? Well, it's a by-now familiar tale. Particularly if you are French. A couple of months ago, representatives of consumer agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden complained that Apple was violating contract and copyright laws in their countries by making its iPod the only portable music player compatible with songs purchased from iTunes. Apple denied this. Confusingly, it also indicated that it wasn't going to open up downloads to rival portable players, which cannot currently play iTunes files. So there.

In the spirit of mediation that, frankly, wouldn't have gone amiss all those years ago in Lindesfarne, the Nordic plaintiffs are set to meet with Apple representatives in September. So all-out war may be averted.

A French law that allows regulators to force Apple to make its iPod player and iTunes online store compatible with rival offerings went into effect earlier this month.

So far it's not had much effect. A government agency to monitor the law is not expected to be in place until later in the year. Much will depend on the law's interpretation by the French courts, as well as the stance taken by recording companies, and whether France is important enough to Apple. If it decides simply to pull le plug, other nations may take note.

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