Old-fashioned red tape is delaying the eagerly awaited European launches for iTunes and Napster.
A maze of licensing contracts, music release dates that differ by country and incompatible billing systems have combined to sidetrack the services, which many recording executives still hope will make their European debut in the first half of 2004.
"We will be here this year. I'm not going to announce the date at this time, but we are working very hard," said Eddy Cue, vice president of applications and Internet services for Apple Computer. Cue, one of the principal architects of Apple's iTunes, told a gathering of music and technology executives the layers of bureaucracy in the European music industry were limiting the number of songs it could offer consumers here.
Chris Gorog, CEO of software firm Roxio and owner of online music store Napster, voiced similar grievances on Saturday. "We're struggling to get the rights clearance to launch a meaningful catalogue in Europe," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual MidemNet music conference on the French Riviera.
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