Just because three major online music retailers bind their music stores to specific portable players doesn\u2019t make it acceptable, a Norwegian consumer group leading the charge against Apple\u2019s digital rights management (DRM) policy said. "iTunes Music Store and others are unfair to consumers no matter how many download services follow the proprietary approach," wrote Torgeir Waterhouse, a senior adviser at The Norwegian Consumer Council, in response to a letter written by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and posted on the Apple website on Tuesday.Jobs examined why DRM exists and discusses alternatives to the current setup in his open response to calls for Apple to allow users to buy songs from the iTunes store and play them on any device. Norway\u2019s consumer representative has threatened legal action against Apple for violating Norwegian law by limiting iTunes customers to playing their music only on iPods. Consumer groups in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France and Germany have joined Norway\u2019s complaint against Apple. Jobs pointed out that Microsoft and Sony also sell music that can be played only on their players, supporting a model that serves customers well with choice and a continuing stream of innovative products. He also suggested that groups like Waterhouse\u2019s "redirect their energies" toward convincing the music labels to sell music without DRM, technology that aims to restrict how buyers can copy or use the music. The four biggest record labels forced Apple to employ a proprietary DRM system as a condition of the agreement that allows Apple to sell their music, he said. Ideally, he said, the labels wouldn\u2019t require DRM. "This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," Jobs wrote. While Waterhouse agreed that the record companies carry some fault for the situation, he said\u00a0the iTunes Music Store and others like it are ultimately responsible. "They\u2019re still the company that\u2019s selling music to the consumers and are responsible for offering a fair deal according to Norwegian law," he said. Still, with his letter, Jobs appears to have stirred up some additional pressure on the record labels to change their DRM policies. EMusic.com, which claims to be the second-largest music download site, sells only DRM-free music from thousands of independent labels. But the site would like to be able to sell music from the four biggest labels. "We are hopeful the remaining four will one day join [the independent labels] by licensing their complete catalogs and reap the benefits of consumer demand," David Pakman, president and CEO of eMusic, wrote in a response to Jobs\u2019 letter.Even though Jobs didn\u2019t hint that a solution might be impending, Waterhouse appeared to see a glimmer of hope. "If this means that Apple is willing to kick the lock in technology from the [iTunes\/iPod] combination this is really good news\u2014news that should be put into action as soon as possible to bring us all one important step closer to a well functioning digital society," he wrote.-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service (Dublin Bureau)Related Links:\n\niTunes Users Should Wait on Windows Vista Upgrade, Apple Says\n\nApple\u2019s iTunes Found Guilty of Violating Norwegian Law\n\nEC Regulators Won\u2019t Force Interoperable iTunesCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.