It isn’t the Magna Carta, but it is a sign of the times. At a conference in Berlin in March, the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection published with fanfare a charter entitled “Consumer Sovereignty in the Digital World.”

The government was joining with consumer groups against what they see as a common enemy: Apple Inc.’s iTunes. At issue is the inability of iTunes users to play music they have purchased from the online store on media players other than Apple’s popular iPods. Music publishers use digital rights management technologies to protect against piracy. Consumers groups charge that iTunes’s digital rights management technology makes it impossible, or at least inconvenient, to listen to music on mp3 players other than those manufactured by Apple.