back to article Apple faces iTunes case in Norway

The Norwegian consumer watchdog is still not happy with how Apple licenses music on its iTunes service and is taking the company to court. The main complaint is that much of the iTunes catalogue is only playable on Apple iPods. Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon is going to court in Norway after two years of fruitless …

COMMENTS

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Paris Hilton

Woo finally!

Lets hope this sets a president for the rest of the EEA! Finally, iTunes without the need for an iPod. cool as they may be, they should not be the ONLY devices.

Paris, because sometimes she likes to mix-it-up MP3 player style.

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They're blaming the wrong people

The Norwegian consumer watchdog would be better off directing their ire at the record companies that refuse to *supply* non-DRM'd content to iTunes.

Blaming Apple for this is like blaming a newsagent for something printed in the Daily Mail.

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Stop

Converters

Do they not know how easy it is to convert and remove the DRM? OR even to just simply re-record the damn track to MP3???!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Dear potential iPod purchaser

To use you iPod you will need to install iTunes, this will require Quicktime, this will install a bunch of codecs and Bonjour and USB and other drivers and updaters. You will have to 'accept' an EULA.

Ever minor bug fix to your iPods firmware will in turn require an upgrade to iTunes which will upgrade all the other s**** that Apple installs and require you accept new EULAs some of which you will only get shoved in front on you when you are halfway through the install and it's installing one of it's 'extras'.

If you install it on two PCs, you may lose your content because it will try to sink by treating the PC as the master copy of the iPod's content, not the iPods. It then wants to delete everything on the iPod

If you install it on more than 5 PCs you are f*cked, even if you only use it for your own content or content permitted for unlimited copying.

I know it looks sexy, but iPods are a nightmare, I wish I had never bought mine.

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Coat

Ludiocracy

I demand my VHS tapes can be played on my DVD player, my Beta tapes on my washing machine and my DVD disks on my toaster.

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er... isn't it obvious...

Just don't buy stuff from iTunes then?!?

You know what? I can't play CDs in my tape deck.

Or DVD's in my toaster or, or or....

...nobody is forcing anyone to buy iPods and

use iTunes, there are and have been plenty

of attempts at competition.

Someone in Norway trying to make a name for

themselves, perchance?

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Lee
Alien

Hang on....

Can't you just buy through itunes, burn to cd then rip into any format and transfer to a different device?

Hasn't anyone told them that and wouldn't that mean that this case is already closed.

Oh and of course correct me if i'm wrong...

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Stop

What?

Do the Norwegians not realise that it is the RECORD COMPANIES that prevent Apple from selling DRM-free tracks?

Have they not read Steve Jobs open-letter about wanting to switch to DRM-free tracks?

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

If the record companies allow Apple to sell DRM-free, Apple do sell DRM-free.

All the record companies except for EMI are deliberately preventing Apple from selling their tracks DRM-free, but allowing other online retailers to do so, in an attempt to reduce Apple's dominance in the market.

It is the RECORD COMPANIES restrictions that the Norwegians should go after, not Apple.

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Thumb Down

Surely ...

Surely there are competitors to Apple selling music downloads in Norway. Doesn't Amazon have a DRM-free store you can go to if you don't like iTunes?

If Apple could get rid of DRM on iTunes tomorrow, they would. They're not the ones demanding DRM.

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NT
Coat

Tut tut...

The sheer *AUDACITY* of it all...

(From the Book of Sledgehammer Hints, #471.)

But seriously - it shouldn't be for Apple to decide what kit we can play songs on. I admit I don't really know how iTunes works, as I've never felt the need to buy an iPod, but I'd take it as a principle that if I'm paying money for music, that money is going to the artist who recorded that music, with a seriously *minimal* amount going to Apple for selling it to me (in other words, if they're getting more than a penny, or at most two, from an 80p track, I'd be annoyed). If that's not the case then it damn well should be - and if it *is* the case then if anyone can impose terms on how and where I play the song I've bought it would be the artist, not Apple.

Not that I'd pay a deal of attention to the artist if they tried to impose ridiculous terms like "you can only listen to this song x number of times" or "you can only play it on equipment I approve". What goes for EA goes for singers, too. I pay money to buy the music/software when and where and as many times as I want. I'm happy to accept the condition of sale that I'm don't then copy it and give it to others - no problem there - but I'm *not* paying money just to get a limited 'licence' to use something, no matter who tells me otherwise.

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Jobs Horns

Lossy

This is why I laugh at people who pays for lossy DRM-ed tracks. No pity for the ignorants.

Until firms like Appe see sense in releasing their catalogues in a universally accepted lossless none-DRM format, I'll continue buying CDs and ripping them into my drag and drop DAPs.

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Stop

You're missing the point

The Norweigan court isn't against Apple selling DRM-protected tracks - it's against the fact that Apple's DRM is closed and can't be used by other companies, thereby preventing those other companies from allowing their software/devices to be able to play DRM-proteced tracks bought from the iTunes Store.

They seem to be regarding iTunes as a bit of a monopoly, as its market share is so large. This is, of course, bollocks, because, as we all know, there are plenty of other companies willing to sell you tracks, both DRM-protected and not, that can play on lots of different devices (excluding iTunes-exclusive mixes, but I don't think that these represent a great deal of the available music). The reason the iTunes store has such a large market share is because the iPod has such a large market share - how many non-iPod owners even have iTunes installed, let alone actually use it?

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Flame

They're _NOT_ blaming the wrong people

The Norwegian consumer protection authorities have already attacked the record companies although not with total success. This isn't an either or situation and Apple is clearly in violation of current Norwegian law which explicitly says that you have the right to copy (and play) multimedia content to the device or your choice for private use (at least so I have been told, ask a Norwegian lawyer for details).

The fact that the record companies are also in violation is neither here nor there. In Norwegian, British and general European Union consumer law your contract is between you and the seller not between you and the producer, this is one of the great strengths of European law as compared with the US (for instance). Usual disclaimers: IANAL, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

RE format idiots

I demand my VHS tapes can be played on my DVD player, my Beta tapes on my washing machine and my DVD disks on my toaster.

I can't play CDs in my tape deck.

Or DVD's in my toaster

What are you people smoking? That isn't the argument. If the CD was made by philips wouldn't you expect the same cd to play in a sony player? Same thing goes for the DVD.

The argument is the same format should be able to play on any equipment made by an different manufacturer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re Re format idiots

"The argument is the same format should be able to play on any equipment made by an different manufacturer."

Shame they don't think this about MS Office formatted documents.

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Flame

Propietary format, Propietary player

"I demand my VHS tapes can be played on my DVD player, my Beta tapes on my washing machine and my DVD disks on my toaster.

I can't play CDs in my tape deck.

Or DVD's in my toaster

What are you people smoking? That isn't the argument. If the CD was made by philips wouldn't you expect the same cd to play in a sony player? Same thing goes for the DVD.

The argument is the same format should be able to play on any equipment made by an different manufacturer."

But the format is propietary. Apple may use the 'standard' AAC audio codec, but then make it propietary by adding their own DRM.

So, propietary format, propietary player. Seems fair enough to me.

I don't consider myself a supporter of DRM protected digital content by any means, but I don't see why Apple should be prohibited by law from selling propietary content for their propietary player. Whats next, X-box games MUST be playable on a PS3 or PC!

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Anonymous Coward

@Ludiocracy and er... isn't it obvious...

You are both idiots. Your comments are a complete waste of space. The point is that the when a file is formatted in a format usable by various programs or devices that file should be usable by other programs or devices. The reason for this (If not already obvious) is that the purchaser has purchased the file and use of that should not be restricted. What does washing machines and toasters have to do with CDs or DVD's. Pull your heads out of your butts!

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Jobs Horns

Is the internets releasing toxic gas now?

For all the commenters saying whats the problem, burn it to cd, rip it again then put on your other player ....... sucking exhaust fumes is not a healthy pastime.

When you shiny new U2/Coldplay DVD arrives in the post.....wouldnt you be annoyed if you had to burn it to vhs, re-encode and burn it back on to dvd before you could watch it on the player of your choice?

It has nothing to do with DRM tracks at all, its all about Apple's closed business practices in refusing to license their tech to other manufacturers ....... Phillips got done for it with cd's so why should Jobby get away with it?

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re:hang on

"Can't you just buy through itunes, burn to cd then rip into any format and transfer to a different device?

Hasn't anyone told them that and wouldn't that mean that this case is already closed.

Oh and of course correct me if i'm wrong..."

you are wrong

the qoute in the article says "iTunes makes this impossible or at least difficult, " having had to try to show some non computer lit pepol how t rip music I know that even this simple to us intlegent reg readers taks is hard for some pepol so it looks like he knows that you CAN un drm itunes stuff but it is not made easy as he would like it

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Stop

RE: couple of things in the comments so far

As an aside, CD is in fact a lossy recording format, it's just a high quality one. MP3 or AAC or WMA or FLAC or whatever can sound every bit as good as CD can, it just depends on how you do it and the equipment you reproduce the audio on in combination with your hearing. Recoding from one lossy format to another is where the problems usually start.

Anyway, my main points. Comparing this to a format change isn't a good comparison; of course DVDs don't play on a VHS player, that would be stupid. However, this is digital content that is quite capable of being played on a PC, Mac, Zune, iPod, Archos, or any number of other brand names some of which are unpronouncable to a typical Brit like myself.

The problem here is the artificial restriction that is being placed on the content. It's more like Sony Pictures releasing a film on DVD, but restricting it in such a way as that you can only play it back on Sony branded DVD players.

Sure, you could circumvent the protection on a PC with some clever software, rip the DVD, recode it, and burn it to a DVD-R, and watch it on your Toshiba DVD player, but....

1. why should you?

2. it's technically illegal as you're circumventing DRM

3. you loose quality (assuming it's a DVD9 source and DVD5 blank)

It's the same here. When you buy from iTunes, you shouldn't have to burn to disc and re-rip; you loose quality for starters; re-encoding an already lossy format is never a good idea (always avoid transcoding if you can) and it costs you in time and effort, not to mention a blank disc if you don't use an image drive. I suspect it is also against the T&Cs for iTunes or the DMCA or it's European equivalents, though I do not know this for sure. For me, it's more about the principle and the hassle of having to circumvent these restrictions and the legality is secondary as I know that I wouldn't be doing anything "immoral" even if it were technically illegal.

Yes, the music studios are requiring DRM to a degree, but it's naive to say that Apple have no part in that decision or choice; they could quite easily put pressure on the studios to allow DRM free, it's just they choose not to. If they are forced to by the Norwegian courts, more power to Norway...

Cheers,

Rolf.

Disclosure: I am an iPod fan, I have a couple, I use iTunes (though I don't like it) but I don't buy music from there because of these restrictions and the quality issues.

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Gates Halo

Problem? What Problem?

I have an iPod. It has never been near itunes in its life. It connects quite happily with GTKPOD. So none of that bloat-ware that Apple have provided. Load tracks from my CD's (you do all buy your music, now don;t you). or buy Indie tracks non-DRM'd.

My last DRM'd CD was returned to EMI when it wouldn't play on Linux as being unfit for the purpose for which it was sold. The next one by this artist came with no DRM.

Still, if Applies share price continues in freefall, I don;t think iTunes-baiters will have to worry to much.

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Boffin

CD is in fact a lossy recording format

"As an aside, CD is in fact a lossy recording format, it's just a high quality one"

Actually no, it is not. CD Audio is uncompressed 16 bit PCM sampled at 44.1khz. It is not 'lossy' in the usual sense of the word.

MP3, AAC, WMA are lossy as they literally throw source data away and rely on the decoder to replace it. FLAC is not lossy (Free Lossless Audio Codec).

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Stop

@Rolf

"they could quite easily put pressure on the studios to allow DRM free, it's just they choose not to."

Not true... Apple DO put pressure on the studios to allow DRM free music in the iTunes Store, but they say No. The Amazon MP3 Store is all DRM-free using music from the same studios that Apple gets music from.

But the SAME studios have DIFFERENT agreements for Apple, and won't allow them to license the SAME tracks in DRM-free format, whereas they do allow Amazon to.

That's the studios conscious decision to try to reduce Apple's marketshare - put them at a deliberate disadvantage to the competition.

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Flame

Ummm DVD regioning anyone?

"When you shiny new U2/Coldplay DVD arrives in the post.....wouldnt you be annoyed if you had to burn it to vhs, re-encode and burn it back on to dvd before you could watch it on the player of your choice?"

Erm, I don't like Coldplay but let's consider movie DVDs for a moment. Amazon US will happily sell me a DVD that is region 1. Region 1 DVDs aren't supposed to be available or played in Europe, we've got Region 2 instead.

So if I want the latest films on DVD (sometimes before they even appear in cinemas here), I have to rip it them to my hard drive and reburn them. What's the difference between buying a DVD and reburning it and buying a tune from iTunes and reburning it? I don't see anyone still up in arms about regional zoning on DVDs or complaining that their favourite interweb store sells them region 1 DVDs, so why the fuss about iTunes? It's not as if you can't go elsewhere if you wish.

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Coat

Looks like america is not the only place

Where people will sue for the sake of suing. The lack of understanding on the part of the people filing suit is astonishing to a degree that I can't even fathom at this point.

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Anonymous Coward

@DutchOven

Or you could have bought a region free DVD player like the majority of people have.

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Coat

A few comments

1. "Go after the record companies, since they are the ones that insist on the protection in the first place." - As somebody else pointed out, under Norwegian law a company providing a product or a service to a consumer is also responsible for it. It won't help to blame it's suppliers. If the company can't come to an agreement with it's own suppliers, so that it can provide a legal product, then it can't sell the product.

2. "I want my toaster to play DVDs then." - If a DVD that should work on your toaster was altered so that it no longer would play on your toaster because it was the wrong brand, yes, then you have a case.

3. "You are free to buy it somewhere else." - Yes, you are, but that doesn't make the products from Apple legal.

Finally, this is not about the DRM at all. It is about Apple making their product playable on their own software or hardware. It isn't about them having a so large market share that it is a monopoly situation either. The case is that if you buy songs from iTunes and at some point want to switch hardware to something from a competing brand, you can't take the songs, you have allready bhought, with you. Thus you are tied to Apple.

You may think this is stupid or not, but the law is usually very clear about stuff like this in Norway. For instance the law provides a minimum of rights that can not be circumvented by any agreement. So even if you sign a paper that says you only got limited waranty on a product you still have waranty as long as it is stated in the law, be one, three, five or seven years depending on the type of product.

But we will have to see what the court says.

Mine is the Norwegian one made out of polar bear fur with "We kill whales for fun." -viking helmet to go with it.

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Jim
Boffin

DVD in toaster is correct...

"What are you people smoking? That isn't the argument. If the CD was made by philips wouldn't you expect the same cd to play in a sony player? Same thing goes for the DVD.

The argument is the same format should be able to play on any equipment made by an different manufacturer."

Apples and oranges my friend.

If you buy a CD that has the nice CD logo on it and you have a CD player with the same logo on it then the disc must play on the player. Ironically, this is not true for DVD (region must match too).

When you buy a DRMed track from the iTunes store you are no longer buying a normal AAC track but a track in a proprietary format. You have no expectation that the track will play correctly just because your chosen player says it plays AAC. Note: Due to geographical limits, I am unable to access the iTunes store (or any other online music service) so am guessing that buyers are suitably warned, feel free to correct my ignorance.

Recalling my basic introduction to British contract law (and extrapolating), If Apple are successfully sued then they can claw the money back from the record companies. The reasoning being as follows:

1. Apple must have purchased the right to sell the content in their store within the geographical boundaries of Norway from the record companies.

2. By selling that right then the record companies must provide a product that is legal to sell within the geographical boundaries of Norway.

3. If Apple is sued then the record companies are in breach of their agreement to provide a product that is fit for purpose.

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NT

@ DutchOven

<< I don't see anyone still up in arms about regional zoning on DVDs >>

Now you have. Pleased to meet you.

Yes, I'm *still* pissed about the region system on DVDs, even though it's largely irrelevant these days. That was nothing more than another means to shaft me for being unfortunate enough to live in the UK. Region 1 movies aren't just cheaper; they also come packaged with boatloads of extra features and so on, while region 2 discs are stripped down to the bare minimum and sold at inflated prices.

Yes, sure, you can make a player run region 1 discs, or buy a region-free player, and buy your movies online. That's not the point. The point is that we shouldn't HAVE to do that, because the government shouldn't have collaborated with the industry to screw us over in the first place. Businesses might be in business to make a profit, that's fine: but make it equitably and morally.

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iTunes

Just say no!

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Stop

RE: CD is in fact a lossy recording format

Well, the subject of your post was correct. The content wasn't.

CD is lossy.

People think it is, but the fact of the matter is, and there is no way to get away from this, is that any digital recording is LOSSY by definition, it takes the original audio and digitizes it, THROWING AWAY (in your words) some of the information in favour of a digital representation of an analogue source. There is no way that a digital stream can be non-lossy.

What you are saying is that it is to all intents and purposes a non-lossy format and I would agree with you on that point - it's "good enough" for normal hearing (which mine is).

But MP3, AAC, FLAC, WMA, OGG and a hundred other different compression systems, both "lossy" and "non-lossy" from the INPUT DIGITAL SIGNAL can sound JUST AS GOOD as the original input digital source, depending on how you compress, what you compress with, how far you compress and on what you play back the signal, how you uncompress it, and how good your ears are.

Yes, I can hear there is a DIFFERENCE bewteen a WAV I have ripped from a CD, and an MP3 that I have used LAME to compress with using the --r3mix settings, but I CANNOT tell which is actually which in a blind sampling, they both sound "good enough" and so that is good enough.

That is very different from saying that it is non-lossy. It isn't. And CD isn't either, when you understand digital systems (like CD/MP3) and analogue systems (which sound is).

Cheers,

Rolf.

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Coat

@Rolf

Sorry to say so, but you are wrong. You are also a nitpick, but then again by arguing with you so am I.

You claim that digital recording is lossy by definition. Try to look up the definition for lossless and lossy. They are terms used for compression algorithms when the data is already digital. Actually to use the terms at all when it comes to a CD is borderline meaningless since a CD contains no compressed data. So JohnP was correct when he told you that in any normal sense of the word, CDs are not lossy. Don't take my word for it, look it up, please, I just did both in my text books and on the world broad web.

You can of course argue that information is always lost when digitalizing a analog signal. That is true in a sense, but we don't use the terms for that since it always is the case. Furthermore since an analog media never will represent data the same way twice, and that you actually find the same limitations in an analog media as in most digital medias, then everything should be defined lossy by your terms.

btw stay on topic, nitpicking about the definition of words not remotely connected to the topic makes the comments section very hard to read...allright, allright, I'll get my coat.

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Paris Hilton

So, like, totally...

....I was right then? I understand that we're discussing semantics, but you have to say what you mean, or what you say is meaningless. If CD weren't lossy, which it is, there would be no possible justification for SACD, DVD-Audio, and anything else that samples over 44.1kHz. You may say that there IS no need for SACD etc, but that is because of the assertion that CD is "good enough" which I agree that it is, but it is lossy still compared to the actual audio. SACD is still, too, slightly less so, and also still "good enough". For me, a decent MP3 is good enough too, but my point is that none of these digital audio technologies are non-lossy. Personally, I don't care about that, but I do care about accuracy.

Yes, I am a nit-pick, but also, I don't care about that. Right is right after all. I blame my parents. Or Paris. No reason why, just so as I can.

Rolf ;-).

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