French officials cautious on iTunes

European competition officials are wary about proposals to crack open Apple Computer's iTunes Web store to other music players, despite concerns shown by consumer advocates, a Reuters report said.

The report said the French parliament was debating a new copyright bill that would require Apple to permit iTunes music to play on devices other than its iPod.

Scandinavian ombudsmen have said they may act, and others in the EU are also contemplating doing so, according to the report.

But Philip Lowe, director general of competition at the European Commission, was quoted by Reuters as saying that although some member states believed there should be open access to all Web sites, he wanted to wait.

He said Apple had obtained its strong market position in open competition with many similar players, including some with their own Web sites, the report said.

One of the most outspoken government advocates on the issue was Norwegian consumer ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon, who said he would act soon, depending on how Apple responds to a letter the government had sent the company.

If Apple could require an iPod for songs via iTunes, then music, book and film companies might restrict their products to specific players too, he said.