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Apple will be forced to allow iTunes downloads to be compatible with other MP3 players

Apple has been given two weeks to fix iTunes after the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman ruled that the MP3 download service breaks consumer protection law.  In fact, at least three Nordic nations, want iTunes downloaded songs to be playable on all digital music players -- not just iPods.  If Apple does not make its songs playable on all music devices by June 21, the company will first face heavy fines which would then be followed by court action.

The formal complaint is online as a PDF file and claims the following:
The Consumer Council of Norway hereby wishes to lodge a complaint against iTunes Music Store with the Consumer Ombudsman. The complaint is based on iTunes’ standard terms and conditions as specified at (Terms of Service) and  Terms of Sale). It is the view of the Consumer Council that several aspects of these terms are in breach of the Marketing Control Act (Markedsføringsloven) and other legislation.

In addition, iTunes uses DRM (Digital Rights Management), a type of technical standard terms and conditions, which determine how the service can be used. The Consumer Council of Norway also believes that certain aspects of the technical terms and conditions are in breach of the Marketing Control Act.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) recently stated that iTunes music downloads should be allowed on non-Apple MP3 players.  European regulators have given Apple enough time to eradicate the problem, with reportedly little interest from Apple.

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By sprockkets on 6/10/2006 11:28:18 AM , Rating: 1
Someone intelligent in Europe says that DRM sucks and that you should have the legal right to play your PAID music wherever you want.

RE: translation
By michael2k on 6/10/2006 11:53:10 AM , Rating: 1
When are they going to apply that to DVDs then? Isn't it still illegal to rip your own DVDs due to the EU Copyright Directive?

There are TONS more DVDs than there are iTunes tracks, and it isn't legal to rip a DVD to a format playable by, of all things, an iPod in the EU.

See, all you people complaining about not being able to play iTMS tracks on non iPods... we iPod people want to play our DVDs on our iPods too!

RE: translation
By Griswold on 6/10/2006 12:49:50 PM , Rating: 4
Err.. you can play your DVDs on any DVD player right? Can you play your (itunes) music on any portable music player?

What was your point again?

RE: translation
By michael2k on 6/10/2006 3:50:04 PM , Rating: 1
Uh, I can legally transport, copy, and burn my iTMS files but cannot legally rip my DVDs to play on my iPod in h.264 nor cannot burn copies of my DVDs.

Your statement, "Play your DVDs on any DVD player" is like saying "Play your iTMS on any iPod, right?"

Because I can't actually play my DVDs on ANY portable video player. My iPod, for example, is a portable video player.

RE: translation
By Griswold on 6/10/2006 5:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
You just dont get it. You can play your DVDs on any DVD player of any brand. It doesnt matter whether or not you can or are allowed to rip it. On the other hand, you cant play your itunes music on any other player than the ones from apple.

This isnt about legal rights to copy, this is about a company preventing anyone from playing the music on any other hardware other than their own - and that makes your DVD example look rather silly in the first place.

Got it now?

RE: translation
By michael2k on 6/10/2006 5:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
I get your point, do you get mine? The only difference in your example right now between DVDs and iTMS files is that Apple does not license the Fairplay codec. As soon as Apple does license the Fairplay codec, your world becomes identical, in that any iTMS file can be played on any player.

My example however is quite different. iTMS files can be burned to CD and ripped to MP3, unprotected AAC, raw WAV, or WMA. This is explicitly allowed for in the iTMS terms of service. DVDs, however, by laws that say DRM cannot be circumvented, cannot be ripped to the HDD, cannot be re-encoded to M4P, cannot be copied to my iPod, and cannot be reburned to CD/DVD/whatever.

All this legal rumbling will do nothing that cannot already be done with songs purchased from the iTMS, so I think of it as a waste of time; will these laws then also allow me to take my 40+DVDs, legally rip them to my HDD, reencode as M4P files, burn back to a DVD for backup, and then copy them to my iPod for later viewing?

RE: translation
By BladeVenom on 6/10/2006 3:55:55 PM , Rating: 1
What about game consoles then? Should Nintendo have to make their games playable on any console?

RE: translation
By Griswold on 6/10/2006 5:08:16 PM , Rating: 2
THEIR games, thats right. Its not apples music though. They just charge you for downloading it.

RE: translation
By BladeVenom on 6/10/2006 5:19:24 PM , Rating: 2
Most games for Nintendo weren't developed by Nintendo. Usually they are made by outside developers.

RE: translation
By Zelvek on 6/10/2006 5:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
That is also quite differnt. See the true issue is that Apple wont share/sell thier file format with others. Game consoles are a hardware issue not software. Nintendo could sell their hardware design but no one would buy into it because they would have to sell their version for more and still make almost no profit on the hardware.

RE: translation
By lemonadesoda on 6/10/2006 5:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
My goodness you guys are dim.

The legal point is that YOU the consumer, have paid ALL LEGALLY REQUIRED FEES demanded by the music industry to "own" the recording and have the right to do with that recording WHATEVER you want, up to the point of NOT broadcasting it, or making copies that will be given to other people either by sale or gift.

So YOU as a comsumer have that right. Under law.

But Apple is making a condition of purchase that you do not have this right. It enforces their terms via DRM.

EU is not against DRM. It is against a company making terms of business that are contrary to the existing rule of law.

Can you imagine if 711 sold coca-cola but made it a condition of sale that you could only drink that coke in a 711 cup and on a certain table in the corner made for coke drinking?

I think the people would be pissed. Coke would be pissed. And if the government had consumer law saying that you were allowed to purchase, eat, drink and take away whereever you wanted, then the government would be pissed.

Perhaps you get it now?

Whoever is comparing this to Nintendo needs their head smashing against a wall to help them think more clearly. Remember, Apple has created nothing here (regarding the music). All they have done is gone to the record companies and agreed to pay a small fee for each song they sell. (Which is in fact peanuts compared to the price they sell you the song at... ). Apple does not own the rights to any songs. While Nintendo does own the rights to the programs/games it produced.

RE: translation
By Zelvek on 6/10/2006 5:29:17 PM , Rating: 2
No but apple does own the rights to the format that the music is in and they are not making the format available.

RE: translation
By lemonadesoda on 6/10/2006 6:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree with your comment Zelvek.

In a strange twist of law, if you own an iTunes song, then you probably have the "right" to download the same music as WAV or MP3. And via P2P!

As long as the P2P "uploading" is intended to be made available ONLY to people who ALREADY owned the same songs via iTunes, (or other format). Then the uploader might not be on the wrong side of the law... Except for any "broadcast" to people who DO NOT already have some format ownership of that song.

I can see the defence lawyers helping me out here with the details...

RE: translation
By protosv on 6/11/2006 12:20:49 AM , Rating: 2
I believe this is a common misconception. Apple does not own the AAC format. What they own is the Fairplay DRM which is applied to this format. They are not under any kind of obligation to make this DRM scheme public. They should, however, under EU law, be required to license it to other companies so that iTMS tracks will be compatible with other music players.

RE: translation
By ElFenix on 6/11/2006 1:05:21 AM , Rating: 2
if 711 were selling it cheap enough then yes, i would gladly go to 711 and buy coke there and drink it according to their terms. apple broke the album up into component tracks successfully, so i can get the songs i want without the songs i don't, and i'm willing to give up a little for that.

you don't understand contracts. i don't have to buy into apple or its system. but if i want to buy something from iTMS, and i do so fully understanding the limitations of such tracks, i don't know why some euro government determines that it has to tell me and the person i'm contracting with what the terms of our agreement have to be. does the government of norway think that norweigians are idiots? it must.

Conspiracy? I think so.
By AT39 on 6/10/2006 1:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, here comes the conspiracy theory.

Apple has everyone right where they want them. I swear to god that this is the most successful monopoly I have seen in this industry. Think about it.

Apple got the iPod popularized by a wonderful and very intuitive design. It is a great design, you must agree with that. But now they have music that can only be played on their player. ONLY. And now Steve Jobs has announced that everyone has to buy a new player each year. Plus the batteries seem to die after abotu a year. Coincidence?

And then Apple uses the iPod deathes to get people in their stores to look at iMacs.

Apple is very intelligent and clever, but someone really has to blow this thing wide open because like Microsoft in the Operating system sector, it has pretty much a complete monoply on the industry.

RE: Conspiracy? I think so.
By gez on 6/10/2006 5:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
While I completely agree with the assesment of Apple's marketing strategy, Apple has about the farthest thing from a "Monopoly" on portable audio players. Remember that "Dominant" is not nearly the same as "Monopoly." Apple has the dominant portable music player, but there are entire store aisles filled with alternatives to iPod. Even Microsoft is not, and never was, a true monopoly. A successful company does everything they can to steer you toward their product, and hold your business for as long as they can. That is what MS has done, and that is all Apple is currently doing.

RE: translation
By scorn100 on 6/10/2006 1:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think this ruling is ridiculous. If you follow their logic, then every PC software should be made to work on a Mac and vica versa. Why shouldn't Apple be permitted to sell ipods and music that only plays on ipods? When I buy MS Word for the Mac, I don't expect that it should work on my other PC. I realize that I have to buy MS Word for a PC as well.

i think that this is a bunch of consumers complaining about a succesful product. I'd like to make all the EC regulatory bodies read a copy of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". maybe then, they'll realize that it's ok for the creator of a successful product to reap their rewards.

BTW, why isn't anyone complaining about Napster making it tracks work on iPods?

You can still always buy the CD and rip it to your computer as MP3 files. An iPod will play any MP3 file. Plus it's still legal to do this.

RE: translation
By killerroach on 6/10/2006 1:53:58 PM , Rating: 2
The difference being that there isn't just one company making PCs, and that Napster uses the PlaysForSure DRM standard, which works on players from several different companies. For a company to have cut deals with the record industry in order to give themselves a market-dominant position and then use that position to lock everybody else out of the market, that's where the issue lies. While it is true that it isn't a monopoly, it is vaguely anticompetitive.

The only other issue is whether or not the anti-competitive position is the fault of Apple or actually the fault of the RIAA in allowing the widest range of their music be carried only on Apple's music store with its heavy restrictions on what devices it can be played back on.

RE: translation
By Zelvek on 6/10/2006 5:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
A file format and software are two very different things the point is that the format you download the music in is exclusive and not even being made available to others to use.

RE: translation
By Lonyo on 6/10/2006 6:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think if Apple did the required stuff Napster could play on the iPod, Apple just choose not to.
Other manufacturers CAN'T get a way to allow iTunes music to play on their players, that is the issue.
The complaint is I believe that there is not an option for people to put the required stuff on their players (like protected WMA support, Napster etc). Not everyone is going to add wma/Napster etc to their players, but people CAN'T even if they want to add support for iTunes protected music.

As far as MS Word, that's a poor comparison.
It would be more akin to only allowing .doc files to be read on a PC running Windows. As it is you can read them under Linux, on a Mac etc, and there is likely the option for other OS'/hardware to be able to support reading them as well, if people so wished to add the support.

By Cunthor01 on 6/10/2006 7:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
If they want to fight piracy, they should make all pirated mp3s DRM infected, and legaly purchased stuff DRM-free.

But that will never happen since it makes sense, and RIAA and rest of those criminals are stupid.

RE: Yep.
By Zirconium on 6/10/2006 9:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
You have no idea what you are talking about. If they make "legaly [sic] purchased stuff DRM-free," then how will pirated mp3s be "DRM infected?" Will pirates be inserting DRM as they rip their CDs or redistributing their legally purchased DRM-free content?

RE: Yep.
By Cunthor01 on 6/11/2006 4:29:14 AM , Rating: 2
Agree, its very much impossible. However, the principle fact is legaly purchased anything should have a clear and distinct advantage over pirated material. Simple as that (even though the example above is not feasable). Pay for the material, it works on every device, download it illegaly, and it doesnt.

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