Norwegian Ombudsman: Apple’s FairPlay DRM is illegal in Norway

“Apple’s digital rights management lock on its iPod device and iTunes software is illegal, the Consumer Ombudsman in Norway has ruled. The blow follows the news that consumer groups in Germany and France are joining Norway’s action against Apple,” OUT-LAW News reports.

“The Norwegian Consumer Council, Forbrukerradet, lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman on behalf of Norwegian consumers claiming that the Fairplay DRM system acted against the interests of consumers. It said that the fact that the technology stopped songs bought from iTunes being played on any player other than an iPod broke the law in Norway,” OUT-LAW News reports. “The Ombudsman has now agreed, according to Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor at the Consumer Council.”

“‘It doesn’t get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability,’ Waterhouse told OUT-LAW.COM. ‘For all practical purposes this means that iTunes Music Store is trying to kill off one the most important building blocks in a well functioning digital society, interoperability, in order to boost its own profits,'” OUT-LAW News reports.

OUT-LAW News reports, “The Consumer Council believes that Apple has only three options: it can license Fairplay to any manufacturer that wants iTunes songs to play on its machines; it can co-develop an open standard with other companies; or it can abandon DRM altogether.”

Full article here.
Cool! That means every company’s DRM is illegal and now Microsoft has to make their DRM Mac-compatible in Norway, right? By the way, Apple’s FairPlay DRM works with iPods, but also with Macs and Windows PCs and certain Motorola phones: No iPod required. The Norwegian Consumer Council forgot Apple’s fourth, and best, option for now: Pull iTunes Store from Norway until the Ombudsman gets his head on straight. No doubt Apple can weather the massive loss of iTunes Store Norway revenue for, oh, EVER. For the record, we do wish the music labels would give up on DRM altogether which would just about solve everything.

Related articles:
Major music labels ponder DRM-free future – January 23, 2007
European consumer groups unite to pressure Apple for iTunes Store ‘interoperability’ – January 22, 2007
Norway not satisfied with Apple concessions – August 02, 2006
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


  1. Seriously folks, why exactly is everyone so opposed to this? Personally, I would love to see Apple exert some pressure onto the record labels to remove DRM. Another solution would be for Apple to just sell songs from artists that don’t require DRM. Of course, I don’t really see Apple doing this either.

    So why is everyone so worried about this? Are all of you guys actually worried that people are going to stop buying iPods if iTunes music doesn’t have FairPlay? Are you worried that the music you’ve purchased is going to suddenly stop working?

  2. There are just 4 million people in Norway, only a percentage have iPods, so pulling the site is really small beer. It won’t even register a flicker on Apple’s balance sheet.

    If I were Apple, I’d run a few full page ads in the national newspapers and tell the citizens why they’ve had to pull out. The outcry might make their politicians take notice for once.

    That said, Norway’s politicians are building the socialist utopia and know what’s ‘best for their people’ like any good socialist leadership and so won’t take a blind bit of notice.

  3. “Socialists. We’d still be riding horses if it was up to these people.”

    Capitalists. We’d be still poor and hungry peasants working for the fat and rich few if it was up to those people.

    What I have to say is that no one has it completely right, capitalists or socialists. The good is created when those two classes struggle against each other. I say that you will thank Norway when after mounting opposition DRM will be discontinued by label companies. Apple will be better off too.

  4. Erik the Viking
    I know it is unfortunate that Apple, the company that is leading the revolution got punished for DRM. I am sure nevertheless that this will trigger a broader action and hit the label companies. If Apple decides to open iTunes for other players I think that will be great for Apple. iTunes is such a great product that it will impress those that are not using it right now and make more people aware of the value that Apple offers. Like Steven said in his Stanford speech, when he was forced to leave Apple he thought it was the worst time in his live, but turned out to be the best thing that happened to him. Same will happen with the opposition to iTunes in Europe. I am certain that Apple will adopt to the new environment. Leaving Norway would be a sign that Apple stopped adapting and started to behave arrogant, like MS.

  5. Will the Norwegian Ombudsman say the same thing about Microsoft Zune and PlaysForSure?

    We wait with baited breath.

    Apologies in advance for being pedantic, but the correct phrase is “bated breath,” as in “breath that has abated” or more simply, “breathless.”

  6. Apple does not force anyone to do anything – You have choices, Apple just provides an easy way to get and listen to music. You can buy your music from other places and use any number of jukebox software titles and put on what ever player you want. People just can’t accept that Apple fixed the problem and everyone else wants to tag along for free. Get a life Norway…

  7. Here’s my problem with this: If Apple creates a product and then Apple offers a service for that product, why in the world are they obliged to make sure their service works for other companies products? If someone can answer that with a reasonable rational answer I’d consider it.

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