Norway To Move Forward In Trying To Force Apple To Open Up iTunes

from the this-ought-to-be-interesting dept

What began as a minor squabble over the terms of service that went with iTunes in Norway quickly blew up into a bigger deal, with Norway blasting Apple for locking songs bought via iTunes only to the iPod via FairPlay DRM. While we can understand the frustration that some might have about this, it is still a user’s choice to buy from iTunes, knowing that the music won’t work with other digital music players. It’s why I don’t buy music from iTunes, for example. And these days, we’re seeing more open competitors hit the market, such as Amazon’s MP3 store. Thus, Apples use of DRM hardly seems like a reason for the government to force the company to open up.

However, that’s exactly what’s happening with Norway, as the government is moving forward with a case against Apple that might force the company to either open up FairPlay or shut down iTunes in Norway. If the latter is the end result, it’s difficult to see how anyone actually benefits. If Apple wants to limit its own market, that’s Apple’s decision. It doesn’t make sense for Norway to get involved.

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Comments on “Norway To Move Forward In Trying To Force Apple To Open Up iTunes”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

This is one example where the complete lack of government over-site in the US helped consumers. Because of Apple’s lock on FairPlay, music sites such as Amazon and Wal-Mart started, heck, were forced to sell music without any DRM to ensure compatibility with iPods. The market worked, DRM lost, and consumers won.

This action in Norway is basically going to enforce FairPlay as the standard DRM, which the music industry would just love. Heck, maybe this whole thing was pushed by the music industry in the first place.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Is that why iTunes is the #1 music retailer worldwide now?

iTunes is number one because, generally speaking, people are iDiots. They buy iPods not for their features, which are always lacking compared to others, but because they’re pretty, shiny, and everyone else has one. Conformity is huge.

Of course, in all fairness, I should point out that there are people even more idiotic than iTunes users. Those true idiots who bought DRMed music from Wal-Mart! What the frick where they thinking?!

rubberman says:

No to DRM, Yes to iTunes

Personally, I refuse to purchase anything with DRM (DVD’s being a necessary exception to this rule), but I think that Apple is within its rights to limit purchases at their store to work with their products. IMO, it should be the music labels that are punished for not making their product available in other formats and DRM-free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Get over it.

No its definitely heard mentality.

The Zune is simple and functional as well. The marketing campaign is a joke compared to Apple’s but all you do is launch and app and start selecting songs to add to your Zune. Thats it.

Hell, most if not ALL MP3 players are like that. From my experience the iPod actually has MORE issues than other MP3 players with getting music on (or OFF) of it.

But Apple does one thing really great. They market a *lifestyle* and sheep flock to it.

Queue the raging Apple fanboys who will take this as me saying Apple sucks. Never mind that originally Apple (Steve Jobs at any rate, but what is Apple without him?) didn’t want any DRM on it but it was the only way to get the music labels to play at the time.

social science says:

Re: Get over it.

It has everything to do with herd mentality, the same as everything else in this stupid world. I would love to see iTunes store opened up. If you think there is any difference between M$ and A:p:ple, you must believe there really is a difference between Republicans and Democrats. Here’s the truth: they are all out to get theirs at the expense of you and me.

Frank J. Mattia says:

If Nabisco wanted to sell Oreos and stipulate that you could not share those Oreos with your friends – would they have a legal leg to stand on in trying to enforce it? Whether DRM protects a content creators rights (ideally, not realistically) or not – it invades on a fundamental right of fair use and should be legislated away as such.

Maybe I’m wrong… Maybe. But I like to think there’s a way for all parties to win but this DRM bullshit has hamstrung everyone…

Anonymous Coward says:

What’s the big freekin deal? Buy an iTunes song…or dont…and then burn it to a disc and convert it to MP3 or whatever. It’s not all that hard to do and you aren’t really limited in where you can play the song unless you are a tech moron.

And BTW…the Oreo example is stupid. You can’t make unlimited copies of Oreos to share with your friends. You paid for, I don’t know 36 Oreos, and thats all you or anyone else can can’t duplicate them and give all you want to all your friends.

Ex-Apple, Ex-label employee says:

In an interesting position to comment here having worked on both sides of the fence….

First – You can put whatever ripped music you want on your ipod or iphone. You don’t have to buy anything from itunes if you don’t want to.

Second- Norway’s government should go after the record labels for enforcing DRM on technology companies.

As far as DRM:
Apple keeps the DRM in order to keep the labels off their backs. Jobs wrote an open letter to the labels asking them to please allow Apple to kill off using DRM, but the labels ignored it.

The labels in turn don’t like Apple’s control over them, so they ran to Amazon in order to help create a competitor. The catch is, Amazon will only sell DRM-free tracks.

Apple kept up by offering some DRM-free tracks (a.k.a. “iTunes Plus” tracks) from labels who allowed it.

Keep in mind this is all a mindgame over making it easier to purchase tracks quickly and without thought. Your best bet for DRM free anything and having a true backup is just to buy a CD (which the labels would love by the way) and then rip it. Or, go to any store and buy them used.

That’s if you’re into buying them in the first place.

Fairplay is just the system of DRM being used for the iTunes app. Rhapsody et al have their own built in too, whether it be Windows Media or Real Player DRM systems.

Apple has consistently argued that opening Fairplay up to everyone means they will have to keep up with every single person trying to crack it. And the only reason they will have to keep up is to keep themselves from getting sued out of existence by the labels.

A little sidenote in history:
The original iPod and iTunes version at the time were going to have functionality that allowed you to copy music “in reverse” off an ipod into itunes. Of course, you can get this from third parties right now as i type this. But Apple had originally conceived it as a built-in function, and ended up removing it out of legal fears.

Personally, I buy used CDs for $3 or $4 and rip them. That way i don’t lose anything if my computer is compromised.

Apple seed says:

How Apple got the permissions to begin with...

Apple’s security is not just to protect Apple’s market. It is also protecting the music from average users freely copying (pirating). It seems like people forget that Apple was the first one to be ok’ed by the music industry because they offered that pirating security. I know the music boat has already sailed. But if you force Apple to do away with their security, other industries such as the movie industry may feel insecure in embarking on digital adventures such as this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just a few notes about iTunes:

– iTunes will import non-DRM music, i.e. MP3
– You do not have to encode imported music to AAC format
– You can export music in AAC to MP3 from within iTunes – no DRM
– DRM is in iTunes because of the recording industry, not Apple
– Norway isn’t suing because Apple has DRM, but because it doesn’t support other MP3 players

dave says:

Why not sue the labels instead?

The music labels are the ones that are working together, forcing Apple to continue to apply DRM to their music (except for EMI), while licensing their music to other vendors such as Amazon in the US for sale without DRM.

This tactic is simply to reduce the marketshare of iTMS, so the labels can raise prices (so both the per-song price is increased AND so they can go back to selling songs in groups to 10-15 songs at a time).

Martin says:

this i a culture clash, really

Norway, (and, AFAIK, the rest of Scandinavia too) has very strong traditions and laws for consumer rights protection.

If Apple wants to limit its own market, that’s Apple’s decision. It doesn’t make sense for Norway to get involved.

If my memory serves, the way ITMS functions (DRM, iPod only) is actually illegal under norwegian consumer protection laws. Which is a Good Thing, IMHO. But I’m probably biased, seeing as I am norwegian.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Almost, but not all music players.

Whereas an mp3 will. Hence, I have no desire to support iTunes.”

Exactly, although I have no qualms with purchasing music from iTunes, consumers now have quite a few choices for digital online music – hopefully more choices in the near future. Choice is best for the consumer in a free or almost free market. I think Norway has not looked at this situation with open eyes and are only bowing down to business or their own misperceptions.

Anonymous Coward says:

I believe we should get rid of DRM. Consumers will purchase music if is is convenient and available; however, i am not sold that MP3 should be the de-facto standard for music players when there are so many codices out there that are superior. Of course, that is also up to the consumer to find a player that supports their favorite codex, and the store as well.

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