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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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Class action v Ignorance
By smilingcrow on 6/10/2006 7:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
If Apple made it clear that music purchased from the iTunes store would only play on ipod hardware and iTunes software, then I don’t see the problem. If they didn’t make this clear, then the phrase that comes to mind is Class Action. I know that you can convert AAC-DRM to MP3, but this involves a loss of quality, technical skills and time. Did Apple make the limitation clear so that non techies could understand?

RE: Class action v Ignorance
By lemonadesoda on 6/10/2006 8:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
Although this sounds like an easy solution, its not that simple.

Existing legislation gives consumers certain rights. For example, did you know that in some countries there is a MINIMUM NUMBER OF YEARS WARRANTY that must be provided with all consumer electronics.

That means a Samsung warranty in one country, just an example, may be longer in one country than another. Samsung cannot just write on the box: "Never mind your local laws, you only get a 3 month warranty with this item".

Although the Apple issue is different, the legal one is similar: existing consumer protection law is being broken. Apple needs to comply with the sales laws in each country it sells in.

Remember also that a lot of what Apple is selling is also "European" licensed music. Music written, produced, or distributed through European music associations.

Apple could solve this by selling iTunes downloads in another format in European countries. This could be WAV, MP3, or other "open" DRM format. So long as local laws are complied with.

I bet you Americans would be pissed if that happened! LOL.

RE: Class action v Ignorance
By JackBurton on 6/10/2006 9:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
I actually buy very few iTunes song due to the DRM and lossy audio compression. I buy the CD, rip it to DRM free MP3 and THEN move it to my iPod. I accept Apple's rules and make the decision to buy or not buy a song from iTunes. Like I said, MOST of the time, I just go out and buy the CD.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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