Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Will Banning iTunes Completely From Norway Make Life Better For Consumers?

from the Apple's-European-lobbyists-heading-out-of-France... dept

What started a couple months ago as a minor dispute about the language of Apple's iTunes' terms of service in Norway may turn into a much bigger issue. The consumer agency there is saying that they're not happy with Apple's responses and may try to ban iTunes from the country. This certainly seems like a bit of an overreaction -- as it's hard to see how consumers are better off with no iTunes at all. The main issue at hand is that the consumer agency feels that Apple is unfairly limiting choice by contractually forcing users to only use their music on iPod devices (similar to the complaint in France). Originally, it sounded like the complaint was over the fact that many users might not realize this when agreeing to the clickwrap terms of service. However, now officials seem to be focusing in on the general dislike of the limitation -- not how it's presented. That seems pretty pointless. If consumers don't like the limitations, then let them make the decision. It's fine to make sure that Apple is upfront about the limitations, but it's their business right to put those limitations in (whether or not they make long term economic sense).

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  • identicon
    Beefcake, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:20pm

    They're a bunch of Nor-weenies

    but it's their country, they can do what they want to with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Taylor, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:29pm

    Not in America Any More

    In a lot of European countries, specifically the socialist nordic ones, they believe the gov't exists to save people from themselves. ie. You can't leave the people to make the best decision for themselves, so the gov't steps in and makes the decision for them.

    In other words, they do not have an open/free economy like the US does. In reality ours is limited, though mostly open and free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ?, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:50pm

      Re: Not in America Any More

      Have you been listening to the US politicians for the last 15 years? They think they are saving us from ourselves too!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John, 2 Aug 2006 @ 8:11pm

        Re: Re: Not in America Any More

        Have you been listening to the US politicians for the last 15 years? They think they are saving us from ourselves too! No kidding. Whether is the Democrats telling you what you can't smoke, what you can't say, what you can't eat, or what you can't think -- or the Republicans telling you what you can't smoke, what you can't say, or what you can't think (just different things mind you) -- the government control has gotten ridiculous.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Raleighman53, 2 Aug 2006 @ 5:44pm

      Re: Not in America Any More

      You must live in another "open/free" U.S. First the government limits corporations here all the time, or we wouldn't hear things like "not available in some locations", and we'd see interest rates the same in all states. Second, we need protection form corporations. Left to run free they would squeeze every minute of work from you they could get, for minimum wage, and toss you asside the first down turn in the market. You see them fighting the minimum wage increase, acting like it will break them and their 10 billion dollar a year profits while a couple, with a child, making minimum wage, with no insurance, has to get assistance to eat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tom McLernon, 2 Aug 2006 @ 6:40pm

      Re: Not in America Any More

      In Europe the Governments make laws to protect the people who voted them in, in the US they make laws to protect big business, and to hell with the "for the people by the people" Constitution. The Constitution will soon be used as wallpaper or toilet paper only.

      The iPod user agreement probably violates some consumer protection law in Norway, you know the ones that they don't have in the US, so the RIAA can pull the citizens out of bed in the middle of the night and lay a beating on them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Johan, 17 Oct 2008 @ 11:34am

      Re: Not in America Any More

      You are an ignorant moron. But you are American so I guess that is no surprise.

      Any major decisions are put to a general vote, unlike in the US where all it takes $$$ to lobby a few senators to push through whatever crap you want without needing the consensus of the people.

      My country pays for medical, dental and higher learning. I can also count on a comfortable retirement. All paid for through my Taxes because I voted for it.

      Not in America! Yeah, thats for sure.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DittoBox, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:42pm

    Protectionist government

    Maybe I'm over-estimating people by saying this, I do realize that a lot of people are either ignorant or apathetic but I don't understand why people so often expect government to protect them from "business."

    My choice was simple: I simply don't buy DRM'd products anymore. I understand that it's a lock-in tool for the iPod and a shoot-now-ask-questions-later stance the R I double A.

    Why are people expecting government officials on regulating committees or agencies --who probably know less about the issues at hand than the rest of us-- to try and crack down on this type of behavior?

    I'm tired of backstabbing, paid off, partisan, over-reaching, grandstanding, moralistic, holier-than-thou, I-know-what's-good-fer-yah, power-grabbing politicians. From whatever demon they've spawned from, rock they'd hatched under.

    Regulation does little good in the short-term but does damage in the future. Just look at the telcos and their government (municipal, county, state or federal) endorsed and propped up monopolies. Mostly thanks to corrupt politicians and poorly thought out regulation...or rather any regulation at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:55pm

      Re: Protectionist government

      you can still transfer music to the ipod without iTunes via MANY 3rd party apps that is not DRM'd so quit your bitching you don't HAVE to use itunes

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DittoBox, 2 Aug 2006 @ 5:25pm

        Re: Re: Protectionist government

        That's not what I'm talking about, and I'm not going "quit my bitching" (which I'm not doing). I'm talking about buying iTunes Music Store songs and only being able to play them under iTunes and iPod because of DRM.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Alex, 9 Mar 2008 @ 8:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Protectionist government

          And in some cases, consumers would choose NOT to use iTunes if possible, but they still get screwed by bullshit known as "iTunes Exclusives" which aren't available anywhere else.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dom, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:43pm

    Er

    I thought the problem was the fact that Apple can change how the user is able to use the song they've paid for and downloaded, without any warning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2006 @ 4:49pm

      Re: Er

      That might be good or bad. The ability to change what you can do with it might be incredibly powerful, in the perverse drm concept of the word. Maybe they grant you the ability to put it on your cellphone. Maybe they let you convert it to a drm-free file at a lower bitrate. Maybe they let everyone burn their music to cd three more times.

      Or maybe they make it more restrictive.

      Or maybe theyre in a gray area... maybe you can only use the music through itunes, and they change itunes and make it suck so you hate it. Maybe new itunes doesnt work well on your computer and some functions fail.

      Whatever the case, theyre changing what you can do with your music.

      That makes the music intrinsically worthless, according to my point of view, but then according to another reasonable man, its a boon.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rickler, 2 Aug 2006 @ 5:00pm

    This would be good. Paying 1 USD for a lossy song that you don't really own and can't sell is ludicrous extortion!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2006 @ 5:10pm

      Re:

      I'm sorry but Apple, the MPAA and the RIAA wanted governemnt involvement (re: DMCA).. well.. now they have it. They just always assumed these kinds of protections would work in their favor.. not against.

      I believe you're going to see the same thing in America when the current generation begins to grow up. You're going to see a huge backlash against these kinds of content controls in the next 20 years. Ironically I think its going end up working in the consumer's favor. They just don't know it yet..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sub7, 2 Aug 2006 @ 6:37pm

    Apple can eat a dick

    Fuck apple, apple is a monopoly, as well as adobe. Fuck their bullshit attempts to take over the music industry and fuck itunes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      tekcowboy, 7 Aug 2006 @ 12:17am

      Re: Apple can eat a dick

      Ok, how is Apple so bad???? Before Apple was telling the Record labels we are only going to charge this much for your songs and your going to like it you couldn't walk into a best buy or circuit city and buy a CD for less then 13.99 Now a days they are practically giving them away. 9.99 for new releases, and why because they know people can go online and download them for less then $10.00.

      Basically the Recording Companies screwed themselves over years ago when they went from selling tapes at $8.99 to CD's which cost less to make for 18.99 and we all wanted CD's so we paid their high prices and then Napster came about and no body was paying for CD's. Eventually the government stepped in and said we will have none of this and it was back to 18.99 unless you wanted your 8 year old getting subpoena for illegal downloads. Then Apple figured out that people would pay to download songs if it was cheap enough and it wasn't much of a hassle. Apple is successful for one reason iTunes with an iPod is easy to use at a price people can afford so nobody is complaining except the people that bought another player from a company that doesn't have a download service.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: Apple can eat a dick

        > Then Apple figured out that people would pay to download songs if it was cheap enough and it wasn't much of a hassle.

        Actually IBM figured this out first with project Madison. Unfortunately, IBM couldn't market free candy to children, so no one's heard of Madison.

        It was a really cool system started back in 1998. Madison was a complete electronic music distribution system from the recording studio to the electronic store, to the customer device. It supported every codec (AAC, MP3, etc.) and was an open standard that any portable music player could use. You could have used IPods, RIO's, or granny's MP3 pocketbuster. You could also purchase music from different music stores.

        Think Apple Itunes without the lock-in to Apple. That was IBM's Madison Project.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jeff, 2 Aug 2006 @ 7:45pm

    um

    I've been in the United States for 11 years, and I'm just wondering...is it because of my stay here that I'm the only Nord who's figured out how to put whatever kind of music I want from whatever distributor/source I want on to my IPod? They don't call it computer science because everything's ready-made and good to go out of the box, for fuck's sake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    la bĂȘte, 2 Aug 2006 @ 7:57pm

    My personal gripe with iTunes is not the restriction of the iPod, it is that I have to burn everything to CD and then re-rip it to be able to play it on my non-apple MP3 player. It's my music, I should be able to play it on whatever device I want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, myself, and i, 2 Aug 2006 @ 11:27pm

    Rich to richer? nah, just incumbants...

    first and foremost, a quote from someone i forget states:
    "Politicians, just like diapers, should be changed regularly, and for the same reasons."

    secondly, another quote from another person who i forget goes:
    "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other's they've tried."

    thridly, another quote:
    "Democracy ensures that the people get the exact form of government they deserve."

    and this is one i coined:
    "My left nut thinks twice in a day as the average politician in his/her entire term."

    i'd love to go on, but its getting late for me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dan, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:09am

      Re: Rich to richer? nah, just incumbants...

      > "Democracy ensures that the people get the exact form of government they deserve."

      That may be true, but there are no democracies in the world today. There hasn't been a democracy since the city-state of Rome became a Republic that later became a despotic empire.

      A democracy is not a form of government in which you vote for people to rule over you. It's a form of government where you vote for the rules themselves. In a democracy their would be no congress or president. We, the people, would vote for tax rates, whether or not to go to war, and all other issues in a popular election.

      America is a republic, and not a very good one either. In a good republic elections are instant-runoff, the people can impeach and recall elected leaders themselves, all political offices are elected (not appointed), and there is no legal corporate sponsership of politicians.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, myself, and i, 2 Aug 2006 @ 11:29pm

    woops, typo

    yeah, the phrase goes "My left nut thinks twice as much in a day as the average politician in their entire elected term"

    just so you know...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 3 Aug 2006 @ 7:50am

    Scary but true

    > My choice was simple: I simply don't buy DRM'd products anymore.

    Then you simply don't buy products anymore.

    Regardless of whether or not you agree with Norway, there is some merit in their actions. Norway is simply enforcing it's equivalent of anti-trust laws. The fact is that large companies will attempt to establish trusts and that the only way to maintain a free market is to constantly bash trusts. Otherwise the trusts get entrenched and the consumers do not have any choice.

    For example, take land line telephone access. You simply do not have a choice of which telephone company you use. For the vast majority of people, the same is true of cable access. Sometimes, technologies like satellite TV or mobile phones partially break the monopoly, but other times they do not.

    Try buying any video camera, digital picture camera, or multimedia mobile phone. They all have DRM built in them even if you are not aware of it.

    And if you think that is scary, almost every color laser printer puts small, but visible yellow dots on every printed page that can be used to track which printer the page came from and who owns it. No, I'm not making that up. See the Electronic Frontier Foundation's site at http://www.eff.org/Privacy/printers/list.php

    George Orwell was an optimist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      tekcowboy, 6 Aug 2006 @ 11:55pm

      Re: Scary but true

      So would it not make sense for Norway and France and the like to Require the Record companies to make all the songs available to all digital download services? As long as the content is freely available from another provider Apple should have the right to have a closed system. If Apple has exclusive content that other services do not have access to then that could be considered an Antitrust because they would be the only source for this information. I could see countries saying the content should be available to everyone. And yes Apple does have exclusive deals for some of their video stuff. Which I believe is because as was the case with music it's new and not a lot of people do video real well so a lot of companies are starting with Apple because they feel they have it figured out (Plus the whole Jobs Disney connection). I think the governments need to regulate the groups providing the content and make sure their are multiple outlets for the content and that they don't have exclusive content deals with one specific company. I don't think they should have a right to say how that content can be distributed. As long as you have a choice there is no antitrust.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dan, 14 Aug 2006 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: Scary but true

        > As long as you have a choice there is no antitrust.

        The point of my original post is that in almost every situation today, you DON'T have a choice.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tekcowboy, 6 Aug 2006 @ 11:34pm

    Itunes

    First the Recording industry complained when napster made everything free because nobody wanted to pay 18.99 for a CD that had maybe 1 or 2 good songs on it.

    And the recording industry is still pissed that Apple only wants to charge .99 cents a song and like 9.99 an album. Because their artists are suffering they can only afford the small Hummer. (If you have ever watched MTV cribs I don't know how anyone would ever feel sorry for the Recording industry)

    So basically what Apple has done is gone and found some middle ground that everyone is happy with you can get cheap music and they offer the Ipod in cheap versions as well as expensive versions so it's not like they are saying you can only use our players with Itunes and we are going to charge you a million dollars. They charge a fair price for both the player and the song. I can only imagine how much we would be paying if iTunes was created by Microsoft and not Apple. Last time I checked Napster; Yahoo; and Real only have certain players that are compatible with their pay per song programs all the other players you have to pay a subscription every month and when you stop paying the subscription the music doesn't work anymore. If we have learned anything from the deregulation of Energy and what Enron did to California once Apple has to let other players work with ITunes the don't sell as many Ipods good by .99 a song hello crappy CD for 18.99!!!!! If it's not broke don't fix it. I can't put Ford parts on a GM car (not very easily anyway). People are starving all over the world, people are getting blowing up in the middle east, the minimum wage in the us is still 5.15, and education and health care suck and this is what governments spend their time worrying about?????

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    foregather, 8 Aug 2006 @ 10:09pm

    Calling it Protectionism misses the point

    Most of this commentary regards the issue as being one of consumer choice, they accept the view that Apple is offering a service and Nowray is looking to prohibit the offering of the service based on some idea about what is "fair" to the consumer of the product. That is a misconception.

    The issue is not with a "consumer protection" law, it is with their national system of copyrights. The Copyright Act in Norway is the system of monopoly distribution that gives the big music companies control of how their work is distributed inside the country. That's what copyright is as a commercial fact.

    Given that I think you have to realize that the issue is not one of the government seeking to prevent the offering of a commercial service, rather in this situation the government simply wishes to ensure that material covered by a copyright distribution monopoly are not discriminated in a manner they deem unacceptably discriminatory or restrictive of what they consider fair noncommercial copying. That is the deal in Copyright.

    So the real question is not, as the headline asks, whether consumers are better off without one specific commercial service, but rather whether the consumers are better off when monopoly distribution rights are not used in a discriminatory or unfair manner. If you think the latter might be true then the question becomes whether the proposed distribution scheme is in fact discriminatory or unfair.

    Since the iTunes music store restricts your ability to access what you purchase except via a box the same store retains control over, the iTunes software and the iPod, and that the store retains the right to change the terms of the purchase after it's made, they may have a good argument that this model for distribution goes beyond what is allowed under copyright law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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