Norway not satisfied with Apple concessions

“Norway’s consumer agency said Wednesday it was not satisfied with concessions Apple Computer Inc. offered to Scandinavian regulators in response to their claims that the iPod maker is violating contract and copyright laws,” Jaime Espantaleon reports for The Associated Press.

“Consumer agencies in Norway, Denmark and Sweden claimed in June that the iPod maker’s product usage restrictions go against Scandinavian laws. They contend that Apple’s system of making its market-leading iPod the only compatible portable player for iTunes downloads is illegal and tramples on consumer rights,” Espantaleon reports. “At the time, the Scandinavians said they were considering taking the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to court, possibly seeking an injunction banning iTunes from their markets.”

Espantaleon reports, “They received a 50-page response from Apple on Tuesday, but the company asked that segments of the transcript be treated as confidential.”

“‘This is not good enough,’ Bente Oeverli of the Norwegian consumer agency told The Associated Press, but added that ‘it seems we may reach an understanding on some points.’ Oeverli said the two sides still disagree on the crucial point – the ability to download music files to other players than iPod,” Espantaleon reports.

Espantaleon reports, “Apple said that limits posed by iTunes to the choice of players were not ‘unreasonable’ because ‘users can burn music to Compact Discs’ and then use these freely. ‘They have the freedom of choice and the mechanism does not violate competition laws,’ Apple’s letter also said.”

Full article here.

More, including Apple’s response letter in Norwegian, here: “Outside Your Area of Competence” is Apple’s Response to Norwegian Consumer Council

MacDailyNews Take: We must have missed the part where Apple held a gun to consumers’ heads and forced them to buy iPods and use iTunes and shop at the iTunes Music Store. You can use an iPod without using the iTunes Music Store. You can use the iTunes Music Store without using an iPod. So, how can either be anti-competitive?

Furthermore, the crux of the Scandinavians’ entire argument is fatally flawed. iPod is not the only compatible portable player for iTunes Music Store downloads. Motorola phones (sorry, Nokia – hey, maybe that’s the problem?) plus all the world’s millions of Mac and Windows notebooks are also compatible portable players for iTunes downloads. Sheesh, this one’s so easy, if it ever did go to trial, even Rob Enderle could win this case for Apple.

Related articles:
Norwegian council reviews Apple response to Nordic iTunes complaints – August 01, 2006
Can Scandinavians really force Apple to change iTunes Store terms? – June 16, 2006
Scandinavian triumvirate extends deadline to August 1 for Apple to reply to iTunes concerns – June 14, 2006
Norway gives Apple until June 21 to change iTunes Music Store terms – June 12, 2006
Norway: iTMS DRM under scrutiny, Microsoft DRM next – June 09, 2006
Consumer Council of Norway files a complaint regarding Apple iTunes Music Store’s terms of service – January 27, 2006

Gutted French ‘iTunes law’ ends up solving nothing – August 01, 2006
French anti-iTunes law deemed unconstitutional – July 31, 2006
Parts of French ‘iPod Law’ struck down as unconstitutional – July 28, 2006
French lawmakers give final approval to watered-down ‘iTunes law’ – June 30, 2006
Apple awaits final approval of French DRM Legislation – June 23, 2006
French lawmakers agree to water down DRM bill that would affect Apple’s iTunes – June 21, 2006
It’s no wonder EMI is supporting Apple in France – May 23, 2006
EMI backs Apple on French DRM law – May 23, 2006
BusinessWeek: still very possible that Apple will close iTunes Music Store in France – May 12, 2006
French copyright bill approved: Apple will not have to share FairPlay DRM details with competitors – May 11, 2006
French Senate vote could offer loophole for Apple’s iTunes – May 09, 2006
Vive l’iTunes! French ‘state-sponsored piracy’ DRM law gutted in committee – May 01, 2006
Force open Apple’s FairPlay? What has possessed the French this time? – April 27, 2006
French Trade Minister: Apple’s iTunes must play fair in French music market – April 14, 2006
JP Morgan: French DRM law will have limited impact on Apple Computer – March 28, 2006
Dvorak: What the French got right with proposed DRM law – March 28, 2006
Will Apple’s Steve Jobs bid France adieu? – March 22, 2006
Wired’s Kahney: Proposed French copyright protection law a good thing for consumers in the long run – March 22, 2006
Apple calls proposed French DRM law ‘state-sponsored piracy,’ predicts iPod sales increase – March 21, 2006
French National Assembly approves digital copyright bill; could affect Apple’s FairPlay DRM – March 21, 2006

67 Comments

  1. I think if it were up to the actual consumers in Scandinavia this stupid argument would have been over before it even started. The competitors just try to fcuk Apple and fcuk the consumers in the progress…

    I say: Keep the iPod and iTunes as it is!

  2. The Norwegian regime is of the hard left socialist variety. They hate America and its successful companies. Apple must not cave in. A pull out from Norway would be better, combined with a complaint to the appropriate agency against Norway and the legal blocking of imported Norwegian products in the U.S.

    Screw Norway.

  3. “‘This is not good enough,’ Bente Oeverli of the Norwegian consumer agency told The Associated Press, but added that ‘it seems we may reach an understanding on some points.’ Oeverli said the two sides still disagree on the crucial point – the ability to download music files to other players than iPod,” Espantaleon reports.

    Surely, Mr Oeverli has the cart ever so slightly before the horse.

    If he want’s other music players to be able to play content purchased from iTMS, the first step – which I always recommend as a good place to start – is to find portable music players that can play AAC format files. Then the next step would probably be to ensure that those players build in integration to iTunes (the software, not the store) as iTunes is responsible for managing the DRM.

    Until Step One and Step Two are executed, Step Three (the ability to play FairPlay AAC files) is – in reality – a moot point.

    So, all Mr. Oeverli has to do is convince the ever-dwindling roster of PMP manufacturers to embrace AAC – something they are loathe to do (possibly because their WMA license contracts with Microsoft actually forbid them to support both formats, which would explain why even Portable Media Players from people like iRiver were either ‘open’ supporting MPEG-4 and the like or ‘closed’ and supported WMV) – and then he has to get them to build integration into iTunes.

    During a conversation with a representative of iRiver around two years ago, I was told that iRiver had decided not to build integration into iTunes because it would mean that they were identified with iTMS. In other words, this is a competitive marketplace and you can’t force Apple’s competitors to license even the AAC technology (which they would have to do first) if that’s not something which they feel is commercially attractive.

    So maybe Mr. Oeverli needs to stop eating unfeasible quantities of herrings and get his priorities straight.

  4. Apple has the least restrictive DRM outside of ILLEGAL file sharing.

    For CD: You can rip a CD and listen to it anywhere. You can put your iTMS music on a CD so they are the same (-quality).

    For Portable Devices: An iTMS track is the equivalent of a CD as noted above and therefore as open as a CD minus stuff like Sony’s piracy protection – so maybe it’s more open than some CDs.

    For Computers: Only iTunes and the iPod work with both Mac and PCs.

    The mere fact that you can create a CD after purchasing songs makes the iTMS as open as a CD. Think of the iTMS as download-ready CDs with the benefit of not having to buy 10 tracks that suck.

  5. “…plus all the world’s millions of Mac and Windows notebooks are also compatible portable players for iTunes downloads.”

    Comparing an iPod to a portable computer as ‘compatible portable players for iTunes downloads’ (as if they were truly similar)is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think.

    I don’t think Apple should be forced to open up their technology if they don’t want to, but MDN’s comparison is bizzare.

    The first paragraph of you take is spot on, however.

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