Norway: iTMS DRM under scrutiny, Microsoft DRM next

“We’re not specifically targeting iTunes Music Store DRM – MSN Music was explicitly mentioned in our original complaint together with CDON.com, Music Online.no and Prefueled.com and we are asking that their conditions also are evaluated against Norwegian law. This has been in there since the original filing”, says Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor to the Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet),” Tatle reports.

“Since, however, iTMS is the leading store for online music also in Norway, iTMS has been picked to test the waters of the Norwegian Marketing Control Act; legislation passed by the Norwegian Parliament in the spring session of 2005 where consumers can legally break copy protection of CDs to play them on ‘relevant equipment,'” Tatle reports.

More information in the full article here.
Well now, this is much more interesting with this information. It’s good to see the whole concept is being challenged, not just Apple’s iTunes. We hope this will be a good test to see if Norway finds that consumers can legally break iTunes Music Store’s FairPlay DRM to play the songs that they supposedly own on “relevant equipment.” Once you’ve legally bought it once, you should be able to play it on any of your devices, right?

FYI, if iTunes did not offer a way to strip off the DRM by default (not counting third-party apps) by burning an audio CD, we’d have a major problem with iTunes and the iTunes Music Store. As it is, we think iTunes DRM is pretty well balanced and doesn’t overly complicate things for those wishing to use what they’ve purchased in legal ways. Yes, we would prefer that nobody ever pirated music and that DRM was deemed unnecessary, but that’s simply not the case. Overly-restrictive DRM on legally-purchased content is an issue upon which to keep a watchful eye.

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Related articles:
Apple’s iTunes Music Store faces fresh legal attacks from Norway and Sweden – June 09, 2006
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

26 Comments

  1. If iTunes offers a way to legally strip off the DRM, is DRM absolutely necessary in the first place? Surely the record companies are quite aware of iTunes’ ability to make DRM-free cd’s.

  2. wha?,

    Any DRM can be cracked. The DRM is necessary, but the way Apple uses it (with the music labels permission) is to slow down and impede massive, easy automatic piracy and still not hinder the average consumer.

    That’s the balance MDN talks about in the Take above. Apple has struck a good balance with FairPlay.

  3. When you sign the user agreement prior to purchasing songs from iTMS, you agree to their restrictions. Plain and simple, if you don’t like the agreement, don’t sign it and don’t buy from them. I don’t see it as any different from other contracts that you agree to when you purchase something.

    It gets kind of old when people sign the agreement, purchase from iTMS, then bitch because there are restrictions.

    A reminder to those of you that have forgotten: Apple put the DRM in place because the recording industry would not let them sell songs without it.

  4. I don’t know. Maybe its just that when you go to work for a government agency your brain starts to leak out your shoes.

    More Law suits. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />
    I don’t think that the sun shines as much on Vermont as it does on Texas. We need to sue.
    I think that all tv’s and other things with remotes should all work the same. Why do I need a remote for each device? I think we should sue.
    I am tired of thinking about suing everyone. Why can’t we have someone who sits around all day thinking of REALLY STUPID things to sue about??

    Sue those who have no control. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Lets sue the local gas station for charging federal taxes.
    Lets sue the local grocery if the oranges don’t look orange enough for us.
    Lets sue lawyers if they can’t sue the other lawyers and win.
    Lets —- aw to heck with it, this is really stupid.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Yorktown,

    My point is that DRM is not a foregone conclusion. Just because Apple and the music labels FEEL that it is necessary, that does not make it so.

    I challenge you to show me a study that proves that DRM is actually stopping the ones that are actually likely to steal.

    And how is it slowing down and impeding massive, easy automatic piracy? Before DRM, a person bought a CD, ripped it to their computer, then shared it with others. They still had to rip a CD one at a time. The only difference now is that you have to burn a CD first, which you should be doing anyway to create a backup in case your harddrive fails. So tell me again how DRM is preventing anything?

  6. Yorktown has got it right on. The idea is to impede easy piracy. I would go a step further to saying what they are trying to do is to get people out of the habit of automatically thinking everything on the ‘net is free and easy.

    Bottom line is, you can still find ways around the DRM, I think more than anything they are trying to make it just enough of a hassle that it isn’t worth circumventing the DRM.

    On the other hand, people buying from iTunes should be making CD backups anyway since once you’ve downloaded it, you really should be backing it up…..right?

  7. Norm e., what’s your point? The government of Norway is attempting to protect and enforce the principle of “fair use”, which, once upon a time in an idyllic America of long-ago yesteryear, was the official policy of the US government. When businesses encroach on the legal rights of consumers, it is entirely proper that the government should enforce its laws protecting those rights. Some countries still have democracy, as opposed to the government-by-the-highest-bidder system we’re implementing in America. Now, I’m a big fan of Apple, and I hold the record and movie companies, not Apple, accountable for DRM and increasingly egregious attacks on the principle of “fair use”. As long as governments address the entire issue, and don’t just target Apple, I have no problem with it. If a legal and technical standard could be developed that would both hinder piracy and preserve fair use, I’m sure Apple would be first to adopt it. In fact, Apple has already struck an admirable balance within the restrictions imposed by the record companies. If pressure from other governments (heck, why not our own government?) can loosen the music industry’s deathgrip on fair use, it might just benefit us consumers in the US and Apple as well.

  8. Makikthize,

    This reply is just to clarify my previous comment. There is no malice or rudeness intended.

    —-Norm e., what’s your point? The government of Norway is attempting to protect and enforce the principle of “fair use”, … ..

    Sorry, I thought the point was pretty straight forward. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> iTunes does not make it difficult to buy a tune and play it on any other player. I do it all the time. iTunes or cd, they go on my computer in iTunes and come right back out on cd or mp3 player. NO PROBLEM. If you want a company to do something, direct them to do that, not poke and prod at odds and ends that have nothing to do with your issue.

    —-Apple has already struck an admirable balance within the restrictions imposed by the record companies. If pressure from other governments (heck, why not our own government?) can loosen the music industry’s deathgrip on fair use, it might just benefit us consumers in the US and Apple as well.

    Absolutely. You said it. Apple is doing a great job, better than Microsoft which DOES NOT play on iTunes. So SUE MICROSOFT or the Music industry. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Please do not get me or others here wrong. I think we all would rather have things even easier to use, access, etc. If you or I complain, its just us. But to have a government complain, then I would hope that the issue is REAL and makes sense. I have to wonder, especially after the French debacle, what does Norway really expect to happen here? Is this just for show to appease some small but vocal group within the country??

    Just my 2 kopecks worth.

  9. Norm e. –

    I guess what prompted my response to your post was the clarification by the Norwegian government that they are NOT just going after Apple. Initial reports implied that Norway was unfairly targeting Apple. Now that it’s clear that Norway is, in fact, tackling the whole issue of fair use and not just picking on Apple, I think we all can rest a bit easier and cut Norway some slack. Maybe I read too fast, but it didn’t seem clear in your post that you understood this. I thought you were simply pooh-poohing consumer protection and complaining that Norway was being overly litigious. I, for one, wish the US Government would join the battle to protect fair use. Obviously, the first targets should be the content providers. Unfortunately, this would probably require a rewrite of the DMCA, which seems unlikely to happen any time soon. It’s pitiful, just pitiful, that countries like Norway and France have to lead the way in the area of consumer protection.

  10. Majikthize: Some countries still have democracy, as opposed to the government-by-the-highest-bidder system we’re implementing in America.

    No doubt our government officials are massively corrupt, but don’t assume that the USA is a democracy (as we keep being told — over and over).

    Not a democracy now, never was a democracy, and was never intended to be a democracy. It is (and it is supposed to function as) a Constitutional Republic. Huge difference!

    But they keep telling us that the USA is a “democracy” — why? So the government can take your unalienable rights and grant you privileges instead. Privileges can always be modified or revoked at the pleasure of the grantor.

    Bottom line: more power for the government (which was created by the people to serve the common needs of the people) and less power for you!

  11. Clarification –

    “Not a democracy now, never was a democracy, and was never intended to be a democracy. It is (and it is supposed to function as) a Constitutional Republic. Huge difference!”

    Pardon my semantic sloppiness. What I meant was “a government that actually represents the will of its citizens.” I don’t give a darn what you call it.

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