Apple’s iTunes Music Store faces fresh legal attacks from Norway and Sweden

“Apple’s popular iTunes music-download service is facing fresh legal attacks in Europe. Government consumer protection agencies in Norway and Sweden want Apple to remove restrictions that prevent customers from playing music they bought through iTunes on devices made by other companies,” Thomas Crampton reports for The International Herald Tribune. “And in Britain, one of the largest digital music markets, the British recording industry’s trade association, known as B.P.I., told a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday that iTunes music should be made compatible with other portable music devices. It was the first time the group had taken a public stance on the issue.”

“Apple representatives in Norway and Britain declined to comment for this article. But a major Norwegian news Web site quoted a company official as saying that Apple was seeking a settlement of the complaints. ‘We want to resolve this without closing down our operations in Scandinavia,’ the Apple spokesman, Fredrik Hallstan, told the Web site, Forbruker.no,” Crampton reports. Bjorn Erik Thon, director of The Consumer Ombudsman’s Office of Norway, a government authority with power to fine companies for marketing and business practices that it deems unfair, “dismissed the claim Apple has often made that its policy helps combat copyright violation. ‘They are not protecting against piracy, but instead encouraging it,” Mr. Thon said. “When consumers cannot copy an iTunes song onto their mobile phone, they will get a download of it free from Napster.’ Consumer protection authorities in Sweden echoed Norway’s action today, and Denmark is expected to do the same… Mr. Thon said that he himself had bought a large number of songs from iTunes for about 1 euro apiece, and now wanted to transfer them to his new Nokia N80 cellular phone, but could not.”

Full article here.
Thon could burn a CD and import it into his Nokia N80 cellular phone, but that would require basic knowledge of how iTunes works. iTunes, of course, is the only major online music service that works on both the Mac and Windows platforms and when you burn a music CD, the DRM is no longer present. By the way, Mr. Thon, Napster isn’t free anymore. It hasn’t been for years. Try to keep at least a little current before seeking fines and stating your assumptions, okay?

So, obviously for Thon, it’s easier to seek fines via governmental legal action than it is to use iTunes for approximately fifteen seconds (max.) to figure out what that oh-so-cryptically-labeled “Burn Disc” button does or, God forbid, RTFM. The same goes for the other geniuses in the other countries, too. We wonder, because the article makes no mention of any other services, will Thon et al warm up the insides of their protective helmets and seek to fine Napster, MSN, and all the rest of the Microsoft Windows Media-based outfits that actually exclude an entire platform, Macintosh, that’s used by over 25 million people worldwide? You’d think they’d shoot for those fines first, if they’re so dead set on wasting everyone’s time, wouldn’t you?

UPDATE: We have struck the second part of our take above after receiving better information about Norway’s actions. Apologies to Mr. Thon. Curses to IHT’s Crampton. Please read the latest article and our very different take on this subject here: Norway: iTMS DRM under scrutiny, Microsoft DRM next

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Related articles:
Norway complains about Apple iTunes Music Store – June 07, 2006
Consumer Council of Norway files a complaint regarding Apple iTunes Music Store’s terms of service – January 27, 2006
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005

27 Comments

  1. Napster has a trial service where you can listen to any song for free 5 times, but can’t download it.

    This guy did his research, but only read the headlines ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Apple employees are advised to NEVER tell customers how to circumvent the DRM. That includes burning a CD and re-importing it. MDN can afford to casually suggest that, but Apple can’t.

  3. “Apple employees are advised to NEVER tell customers how to circumvent the DRM.”

    Actually it’s the lovely US government that has taken care of that. Since the adoption of the DMCA, it is illegal for someone to provide info on how to circumvent any type of DRM.

    Having been in a position to be able to advise many iTunes users about how it works, I can state with 100 certainty that I’m not going jeopardize myself just to tell someone how to get around DRM. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that Apple tells their employees not to do this either.

  4. sorry but the Motorola Q is turning out to be a very nice multimedia device, and even I as an iPod need a convenient way to copy all my iTunes songs to the the MotoQ.

    Burning multiple CD’s is not an inviting suggestion.

    looks like I’m going to regret buying all those iTunes tracks 🙁

    back to buying CD’s and ripping to MP3 for me.

  5. You need to read my article to get a better understanding of the situation in Norway.

    The Ombudsman is only the messenger. The “problem” seen from the music industry and Apple is that the Norwegian Parliament has made it legal to break copy protection mechanisms to play content on “relevant equipment”.

    Further the Ombudsman will also target Microsoft and other services with simmilar claims, as these services are part of the original filing.

  6. Actually, the ombudsman says the same goes for MSN and all the other inferior music sites. Since Apple owns the norwegian market the same way they “own” the US market – Apple is their first target.

  7. With that stupid logic, let’s extend it elsewhere…

    Bank of America has armed guards at its banks to prevent people from robbing them and their customers.

    A criminal must therefore go rob a local convenience store who’s owner is not armed.

    Hence, Bank of America causes convenience store robberies.

    Bank of America should be sued and held responsible for every local robbery and should have all guards, locks and cameras removed.

    The fact that a criminal chose to lead a life of crime has nothing to do with anything.

    Personal responsibility? Never heard of it.

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