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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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RE: A positive step
By Wonga on 6/10/2006 12:41:58 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know, I could be wrong here, but I think it has survived five generations because of great marketing. Everyone knows about the iPod and iTunes - the media often talks about "iPods" before they talk about "MP3 players". In fact, I bet some people still don't know what an MP3 is, but they know about "iPod files".

So, since everyone knows about these things, everyone gets an iPod, so therefore uses iTunes, which in turn causes them to stick with iPods. It is a little bit of a trap.

Not to say that iPods are bad - I actually wish I'd paid the extra and got one instead of my Creative Zen I have now (well, in fact, I don't have it, since it's a second one returned under warranty - I no, I aint been throwing it around!).

RE: A positive step
By michael2k on 6/10/2006 3:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
The numbers are out there; do the math, there is something like 11 songs per iPod. On the other hand how many CDs are there per iPod? 80? 90? 100?

The iTMS is essentially irrelevant to the success of the iPod. It is, however, because of the success of the iPod (42 million sold now?) that the iTMS is a success. If everyone who owns an iPod got a $15 gift certificate for Christmas from the iTMS, that would explain a lot of the success of the iTMS.

I bought an iPod in 2001. The only real alternative were 128mb Rio flash player or a 6GB Creative Nomad. Both were crap compared to an iPod. Then look at Creative's players; they didn't release a 1.8" HDD player, the Zen Touch until 2004, giving Apple three years and tree generations to cement their lead. Apple additionally released the wildly successful iPod mini in the January 2004 Macworld, which Creative could not match until later in November with the Zen micro.

So 3 years is a long time to give the competition to dominate the market.

RE: A positive step
By Wonga on 6/10/2006 5:25:38 PM , Rating: 3
The point I'm driving at here is that the iPod is a huge success, which in turn is making iTunes a huge success. Due to this, people will end up buying AAC songs which won't work on any other players by design.

Maybe the stats say the average number of songs people are getting from iTunes is small, but some people get loads. I know loads of people who buy off iTunes.

I'm pleased that Apple is getting into hot water over this in Europe, not because I like to see a company fail (as I really like the iPod, as I said), but because people are going to struggle in the future when they have a load of songs that won't play on anything but an Apple device. Now, who's to stop Apple from raising the price of their players at this point?

I'm not having a rant about DRM or anything here (I don't mind that at all, if people don't want to buy the CDs themselves and copy them onto the device), but rather the proprietary nature of this format. No matter how you slice it, it has the potential to force consumers to buy a certain brand (short of throwing all their music away).

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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