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EU Officials Cautious on AntiTrust Issues 156

Posted by Zonk
from the watch-what-you-do-with-that-drm dept.
An anonymous reader writes "News.com has a piece up looking at reactions from EU officials to the iTMS antitrust case. The individuals involved are wary of cracking open the DRM that protects the music sold at the iTunes Music Store." From the article: "One of the most outspoken government advocates on the issue is Norwegian consumer ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon, who said he would act soon depending on how Apple responds to a letter the government had sent the company. If Apple can require an iPod for songs via iTunes, then music, book and film companies might restrict their products to specific players too, he said."
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EU Officials Cautious on AntiTrust Issues

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  • by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:03PM (#15550601)
    film companies might restrict their products to specific players too

    Sounds like Sony and Blu-Ray.

    • Larger scope (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149)
      Sounds like Sony and Blu-Ray.

      Your thinking is too limited. This sounds exactly like DVD and CSS, or Blu-Ray/HD-DVD and AACS. In either case unless you sign agreements to support those DRM standards you are not able to build devices to play that media.

      The movie companies MIGHT restrict the products to certain players? They already do today and have for years!!

      If I were Apple I'd write back: "Dear Sirs; either ban CSS as well or get off our case."
      • Re:Larger scope (Score:4, Informative)

        by MustardMan (52102) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:18PM (#15550712)
        The main difference is - Apple won't license FairPlay to anyone. They will build a little itunes app that can run on a phone, but it's heavily crippled. Let's see Creative or Sandisk get a license to use Apple's DRM - won't happen unless a government body forces them to.

        However, with CSS, they will license the technology to just about anyone willing to spend the cash. That's why there are so many cheap no-name DVD players at Wal-Mart and such.
        • So if Apple licenses Fairplay at half a million, we're all dandy right?
        • So if Apple were to agree to license out FairPlay to anyone willing to pay a "fair market value" for it, where the value of the license was equal to the number of FairPlay-compatible players the licensee planned on selling, times Apple's profit margin on an iPod, everyone would be happy? Because I'm pretty sure Apple would be okay with that. Say $75 USD a unit?

          Apple is a company which exists to make money for its shareholders. I can guarantee you that they would license the FairPlay scheme to anyone who was willing to pay Apple what it's worth. Unfortunately, the problem here is that nobody -- least of all SanDisk and Creative -- can afford that.
          • Your definition of "fair market value" seems to be a lot different from normal licensing schemes.

            And second, you've assumed that Apple always does exactly what will make them the most money - it's simply not true.

            And lastly, who's to say Apple would make money by licensing fairplay? What if itunes went down the crapper because someone was able to sell fairplay-encoded music in an interface that was better than itunes? What if third party players exploded in popularity, because people could easily transfer
            • If apple licensed fairplay to everyone, then someone like Samsung would produce a player that plays Windows Media and iTunes music.

              I'd buy a player that gave me that flexibility, and then Apple and Real/Yehoo/Microsoft would end up in a bidding war which would be bad for everyone (except of course the consumer)
            • And lastly, who's to say Apple would make money by licensing fairplay? What if itunes went down the crapper because someone was able to sell fairplay-encoded music in an interface that was better than itunes? What if third party players exploded in popularity, because people could easily transfer all their already-purchased music to those players, and ipod popularity dwindled?

              And lastly, who's to say Apple won't make money by licensing fairplay? What if itunes becomes even more popular because competitors

              • We don't live in a world of "if's", but the decision-makers at apple do. The GP insisted Apple was willing to license fairplay at a "fair" price, even though all evidence has shown the opposite, and I was trying to give an example of a scenario that might run through the heads of the Apple execs. Considering the miserable failure of the attempt to license Mac OS, I'd say there's a pretty good chance that some people at Apple are thinking the same way.
        • The main difference is - Apple won't license FairPlay to anyone.

          "FairPlay"? "Plays4Sure"? "Digital Rights Management"? I see a pattern emerging here...
          To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes Minister [yes-minister.com]:
          ... always dispose of the difficult bit in the title. It does less harm there than [in the contents].
        • Apple wants you to use their player to play stuff from their online store. OK. Nintendo wants you to use their machine to play their games, yet no one thinks anything of it. Some gaming consoles even have exclusive content, while I don't know of any music that is available only from iTunes. Don't like it? take your $$$ elsewhere
      • The movie companies MIGHT restrict the products to certain players? They already do today and have for years!!

        If I were Apple I'd write back: "Dear Sirs; either ban CSS as well or get off our case."

        Shhh! Don't tip them off, if this goes through ladies and gentlemen it will be the end of CSS and AACS and all this POS. Well, that, or we get a completely toothless piece of paper hailed by its creators as major step forward for consumers and ignored by the world at large.

      • It's NOT the same... any manufacturer can implement a DVD player as they just have to fulfil the requirements (jump through the hoops) to get a licensed implementation of CSS and get their key... Apple however, doesn't allow anyone else to make players that can play content that's been locked up with their system... It's a closed shop with the only exception being that bastardized crippled phone that can only ever hold a maximum of 100 tunes
      • You are right, I was being limited. It would have been better to say it sounds like Sony and Betamax, and we all know what happened with that. In reading my old post it sounds a bit like a troll.

        The point I was trying to make is this: If every time the game doesn't go your way, you take your ball and go home the other kids stop playing with you. If you play nice with the other kids, more people like you and everything is more fun. And music players should be fun, right?

        Then again, I can cite Microso

    • Very common (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gr8_phk (621180) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:08PM (#15550642)
      >> film companies might restrict their products to specific players too
      >Sounds like Sony and Blu-Ray.

      Sounds like every game console ever made.

    • Sounds like Sony and Blu-Ray.

      Considering Samsung is releasing a Blue Ray player BEFORE Sony I am wondering when my Samsung Fairplay compatible product will be out.

      Oh righ, never.
  • Really, you do. Infact Mr. Jobs has his gun pointing at your head right this minute. I cant hear him now, "BUY FROM iTUNES! DONT BUY A CD OR LISTEN TO THE RADIO"

    I swear people get dumber and dumber the more consumerist we become.

    • It's that whole leveraging a monopoly thing. Microsoft didn't hold a gun to your head and force you to use IE, either, but they got nailed for bundling it with windows. In a lot of ways, the Apple DRM is even more strong-arm than MS's inclusion of IE. But the Apple apologists always act like it's ok, because they are Apple.

      I use exclusively Apple computers. I own three ipods. I bought a new macbook within a few days of launch. All my friends call me an Apple fanboy because I constantly try to convince
      • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:37PM (#15550855)
        It's that whole leveraging a monopoly thing.


        No, it's not. What Microsoft did in the 90s was leveraging a monopoly, and I'll explain below.

        Microsoft didn't hold a gun to your head and force you to use IE, either, but they got nailed for bundling it with windows. In a lot of ways, the Apple DRM is even more strong-arm than MS's inclusion of IE. But the Apple apologists always act like it's ok, because they are Apple.


        You don't explain how exactly Apple's DRM is more strong-arm than Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer. To use an iPod or iTunes, you don't even have to ever touch FairPlay, and just listen to your own MP3s. Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer was targeted because it was a part of a series of behavior that included:

        1.) Coercive OEM deals that threatened Windows license removals if manufacturers included rival software on new systems, including Netscape. Because of Windows dominance, a license removal would be commercial suicide.
        2.) Vaporware announcements designed to lure customers away from buying existing competing products.
        3.) Purposeful incompatibilities designed to make competing products appear as malfunctioning.

        The big one is #1, and every time someone compares the iPod/iTunes tie-up to Microsoft's monopoly abuses of the 90s, I have to call them on it and point out Apple is doing absolutely no such thing. Apple is not calling up retail stores and telling them that if they don't remove all non-Apple music players from their shelves, Apple will no longer sell iPods through them. Apple doesn't really do anything about competing products. They, for the most part, completely ignore them and just let their own product design shine through.

        But I'm not so gullible to think that the ipod/itunes lockin isn't a blatant abuse of the customer.


        This is ridiculous. There is no abuse of customers going on. You're not forced to buy music from Apple, and if you do, it is of your own volition. You may also be disappointed to learn that if you buy an XBox 360, you can only play XBox games and not Playstation 2 games, even though they both use the same DVD format. Nobody is forcing the customer to do anything they don't want to do.

        Apple has pretty much guaranteed I am going to keep downloading my music from bittorrent, by using an artificial extra layer to limit customer choice, and still have no effect on piracy.


        You haven't explained how anybody's choice is being limited. You have free choice to buy music from Apple, with the implications that their service works only with other Apple products, as is their right. Or you have the free choice not to buy Apple's music, and just use MP3s you rip yourself. You also have the choice to buy any one of the myriad of competing music players that use PlaysForSure and other services. I fail to see what consumer choice is being limited here.

        iTunes is specifically designed as part of Apple's vertical solution strategy, a medium for interacting with the iPod, and the iTunes Music Store specifically exists to provide music for people who have purchased the iPod. Apple is simply providing services to increase the value of an iPod to potential customers, just as they ship iLife only for Macs. It's adding value to a hardware purchase, just like when Nintendo releases first-party games to increase the value of a Nintendo hardware purchase. I may want to play New Super Mario Bros. on a PSP, but I'm not going to consider it monopoly abuse that I can't.
        • This entire "concern" over Apple and iTunes is entirely related to the idea of the MP3 as some sort of universal standard of music consumption. Even excusing the proprietary MPEG-3 compression standard rhetoric, most people see the argument as "a music file is a music file is a music file."

          This stands in sharp contrast to a Nintendo cartridge vs. a PSP UMD vs. an XBox CD/DVD. In reality it's nothing more than sleight of hand, but to the end consumer (and unfortunately, most legislators), a company should

          • Obviously, the underlying assumption here is that any DRM that is controlled by one company (and unlicensable), rather than by an industry at large, is considered to be bad. Whether or not you believe to be this true will ultimately govern your own opinions on this case.

            And that whole argument is a red herring to begin with!

            That assumption needs to be reframed to say that any DRM at all is considered to be bad. That's the real issue!

    • I'm growing more concerned that some people apparently believe the mere fact Apple owns most of the music player market means there is an inherent legal right to open up FairPlay. If Apple has done no wrong and abused no one, there is no basis to punish Apple by doing that. Before anyone brings up the inevitable comparisons to Microsoft in the 90s, Microsoft specifically stifled competition by threatening Windows license removals from OEMs who shipped competing software. So they would force computer make
      • I'm growing more concerned that some people apparently believe the mere fact Apple owns most of the music player market means there is an inherent legal right to open up FairPlay.
        I'm growing more concerned that some people apparently believe that FairPlay has a legal right to exist at all, regardless of whether Apple is a monopoly or not. What everyone needs to realize is that ALL DRM SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.
  • One more time and all together now:

    You don't have to use an iPod to play iTunes Music!

    Options:
    1. Play music on your computer (Windows or Mac)
    2. Burn CD and play on your stereo
    3. Re-rip to MP3
    • 4. lose quality and waste more time than you would have driving to the store to buy the fucking cd
      5. ???
      6. profit for everyone but you
      • Ok, then go "to the store to buy the fucking CD." I don't see the problem. What makes you think you have to buy this content from iTunes Music Store?
        • Well for one, the record labels are also adding DRM to CDs.

          For two, unfortunately most normal computer users don't understand DRM and how it limits their rights until it's too late. Relying on consumer ignorance to lock them into a DMCA-protected proprietary DRM scheme is unethical and should be illegal.

          I hate the "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argument - if you don't like windows, don't buy it. But definitely don't ask the government to step in and do something about their abuse of monopoly power.
          • Has anyone actually found some DRM-ed CDs that did anything to a Linux machine ?

            I found out (after the fact) that I had a few "protected" disks (apparently they weren't even audio CDs anymore) and the ripping software doesn't even seem to notice. Apparently most of them rely on adding a data track to the CD which automates the installation of Windows drivers.

            For now, DRM is still irrelevant to some users. Can't say what the future will hold of course...
          • For two, unfortunately most normal computer users don't understand DRM and how it limits their rights until it's too late.

            How is "when they sign up for an account" too late?

            Relying on consumer ignorance to lock them into a DMCA-protected proprietary DRM scheme is unethical and should be illegal.

            The only thing that relies on consumer ignorance is your argument. You seem to be implying that Apple is keeping the DRM restrictions secret, which they are not.

            I hate the "if you don't like it, don't buy it" argume
            • Uh, ok. I don't like Windows, so I didn't buy Windows. What's your point?
              Me too, but that doesn't changed the fact that I'm forced to use it at work because, due to Microsoft's monopoly (acquired by illegal means), the software I'm required to use (AutoCAD) only runs on Windows.
          • Relying on consumer ignorance to lock them into a DMCA-protected proprietary DRM scheme is unethical and should be illegal.

            That's beside the point. All DRM is unethical and should be illegal.

            • Good point. I tend to get caught up in arguing with the Apple apologists and get away from the big picture. The RDF is a scary thing - the only people I've ever seen (sometimes violently) standing up for the legitimacy of DRM are Apple fanboys, and people who make money from DRM.

              I wouldn't have a problem with DRM if - a.) the DMCA was repealed, and b.) a giant red sticker that says "WE WILL FUCK YOU OUT OF YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU BUY THIS" was on the cover of every product implementing DRM.
              • a giant red sticker that says "WE WILL FUCK YOU OUT OF YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU BUY THIS" was on the cover of every product implementing DRM.

                I've been thinking of organizing a kind of "guerilla activism" campaign to get a bunch of people together, invade stores that sell DRM-infected products, and put these stickers on them. What do you think -- good idea? Also, which strategy do you think would work better: a sort of "blitzkreig" where everybody runs in and labels everything as quickly as possible, or a stealth

      • Yeah, it's really too bad that they outlawed music stores after iTMS came to be, eh?
    • You forgot:

      4. Play music on selected phones.

      That said I don't think companies that intentionally restrict consumer rights above and beyond what copyright law does should be given the protections of copyright. It should be an either or proposition. Either copyright your song and consumers are obligated to follow the rules about not copying it, but you cannot impose any additional rules, or don't copyright it and impose your own technological restrictions, but if someone breaks your DRM they can do anything

      • I've been thinking about that recently. The same should be applied to any sort of "creative property" for lack of a better term.

        Copyright is designed to enrich the public knowledge pool by giving authors a time-limited monopoly on distribution of their works. Without such a monopoly, many authors or inventors would simply try to keep their knowledge secret, which doesn't benefit the public. This is obvious with respect to books, especially when copying is very easy. In the software world, companies who
        • If you don't publish your source, you don't get copyright.

          I have previously advocated going even further. For those companies that do publish a work, they use copyright to make a profit. They stop making a profit when they stop selling that work. I think the day a publisher stops selling a work at a reasonable market price is the day that work should enter the public domain and stay there. That will ensure all works, even ones the publisher does not find profitable, do not "vanish" as so many have in the

          • I'd be happy with a blanket copyright of 5 years with an extension to 10 if still commercially sold.
          • The artist(s) involved in the creation of a work should be guaranteed no less than 50% of the profit from each sale (note profit not cost).

            They are already guaranteed 100%. The only way you can get less is by giving/selling away your rights.

            Copyright reform is badly needed, but sadly most people just don't care that our musical, artistic, literary, and cinematic heritage is being steadily destroyed.

            It probably has something to do with the fact that it is being created at a faster rate.
            • They are already guaranteed 100%. The only way you can get less is by giving/selling away your rights.

              Suppose you're a musician. Your goal is to get the world to hear your music and you'd like to make a living at it. You're really good. So you decide to sell your music and use copyright, as intended, to make money doing so. After a few weeks you realize that a cartel (legally defined as such) owns the distribution chains needed to reach more than a tiny segment of the population. Without their buy-in you

    • Are really 2. and 3. free and legal ?

      Disclaimer : this may be, I don't use iTunes nor iPods
    • 1) I do not have a Windows or Mac
      2) As strange as it might seem. My PC is my stereo (see 1)
      3) Legally?
      • 1) I do not have a Windows or Mac
        Then you are not one of their potential customers. Just like MS will have trouble selling me Xbox games because I do not have an Xbox.

        3) Legally?
        Yes. The capability is built into iTunes.
    • Right. And you have to waste the time and effort of making a cd and then re-ripping it to MP3. How are the mom and pops who are using iTunes actually manage to do this?
      • Oh, alas, oh, what a pain in the ass! The point is that you do NOT have to buy an iPod to enjoy iTunes music (as in my list of other ways to play the music - including using your Windoze POS, you Apple-basher) and you do NOT have to buy iTunes music to enjoy an iPod, so (staying ON topic of the article), the issue of monopoly is bogus.

        Also, Mom and Pop can easily do the re-rip process if they want since the process is clearly outlined in the iTunes help file!
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wordsmith (183749) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:11PM (#15550662) Homepage
    So what? Game companies can make games that run on only one platform. The company that makes my water pitcher makes filters that can only fit in one brand of pitchers.

    The problem isn't the DRM itself. Apple (and others) make intentionally crippled products, limited by this DRM junk. The consumer is free to decide if the crippled product is worth the price he/she is being asked to pay. If it's not, the product goes away, for lack of a market. Maybe some consumers DO find it a worthwhile trade, and the company can flouish because of it. Maybe some don't. If a government interferes with that process, it's interfereing with the free market.

    The problem comes in when the government also interferes by making it illegal to circumvent the DRM, or do other "unauthorized" things to products people already have purchased. If Apple wants to sell me a crippled product, but I can make it better by circumventing the DRM, so be it. I haven't done anything ethically wrong until I've redistributed the product (presuming one buys into copyright as a valid concept, which we will for purposes of this dicussion). Maybe that easy circumvention is WHY it's worth it to me ot purchase the product. No one's going to tell me I can't rewire my blender to make it operate past spec, or cram together my own water filter out of parts I find in the store. It shouldn't be any different with media.

    The solution is for government to butt out entirely.
    • No one's going to tell me I can't rewire my blender to make it operate past spec, or cram together my own water filter out of parts I find in the store.

      I own the electrical system inside my home, but I'm legally required to hire a licensed electrician to modify it. I can't perform home renovations (even purely internal ones) without a building permit. I can't cut down my own tree in my own yard that's over 6 inches in diameter at chest height. I can't legally inhale the wonderful fumes from my own aereso
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        Some of those are in the interest of other people's safety. DRM is only in the interest of securing a laughably failing business model. Nobody benefits.
      • Fair point. But as you note, those are arguably bad laws too.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:12PM (#15550670)
    The whole point of DRM was never to stop piracy, but to force any and all vendors to license the use of official playback by preventing them engineering their own playback ability.

    Ed Felten has pointed this out on numerous occasions, and I seriously doubt these government officials are so stupid as to not see it.

    News flash corporate sellouts: you can't have your cake and eat it too..

    DRM is deliberate incompatibility, and if you protect it you can't encourage interoperability at the same time!
    • The pupose of DRM is to force the switch from a model where consumers buy their media (or at least a support that holds it and that can be kept ad vitam eternam) to a model where people rent their media, Whether some material support is involved or not.
      • Then there should be no discussion of iTunes wrt DRM, since you buy tunes from the iTune Store, not rent it. It is not like the places that you rent WMA tunes from that are only playable as long as you keep paying for them.
  • by JorDan Clock (664877) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:13PM (#15550677)
    There are tons of DRM'ed music, books, and movies. I'm fair sure Sony required people to convert their music into their ATRAC format for their early "MP3" players. eBooks often can only be read by specific programs on certain platforms. DRM protected DVDs can only be played on certain DVD players (albeit, this point is much less restrictive than many others.). Sure, you can (supposedly) only play music obtained from ITMS through an iPod or iTunes, but honestly, is it that big of a restriction? If you buy an iPod, you're likely to want digital music, and since not everyone is a pirate, they want to buy it. So Apple sets up a service for their product. There are other services that are less platform restricted, and some that are completely free of platform restrictions. Didn't the Prismiq have a media download service? I wouldn't be surprised if that media could only be played on the Prismiq. Was that available in Europe?
    • Being wildly successful makes you subject to special scrutiny. You think that Microsoft could get away with selling Computers and the OS the way Apple can? No way! Since Apple is the market in digital media, and even outsells retail (http://news.com.com/iTunes+outsells+traditional+m usic+stores/2100-1027_3-5965314.html), they're lucky that all people want is to let the music be played on other devices.
  • This is ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ostermei (832410) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:15PM (#15550689) Homepage
    "If Apple can require an iPod for songs via iTunes, then music, book and film companies might restrict their products to specific players too, [Norwegian consumer ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon] said."
    That's such a load of crap. He may have a point if Apple were the originators of the content itself, but that's not the case. Apple is just one of many retail salepoints for songs that are produced elsewhere. If he doesn't like Apple's particular way of selling the songs, he has every right to purchase his music somewhere else (including buying the physical CD and ripping the music into whatever DRM-free format he would like... MP3, for example, which would still play on that iPod he apparently was forced to buy).

    A more accurate way to argue the point he's making is to say that it would allow retailers to restrict the products they sell to specific players. For example, Barnes & Noble might start selling only ebooks in a proprietary .bn format that can only be played on their bnReader device. That won't stop you from swinging by Borders and picking up the good ol' dead-tree version, though.
    • That's such a load of crap. He may have a point if Apple were the originators of the content itself, but that's not the case.

      I think you're missing several important points. First it does not matter how many companies are intermediaries or what options are available today. Copyright is supposed to be a two-sided deal. If the government provided a monopoly on the publication of something, subject to a whole series of rules and restrictions, why should content producers be able to implement technology that

      • by Kadin2048 (468275)
        If Apple has a monopoly on digital music players (which is a big if) then they are illegally tying ITMS and iPods.

        You had me up to here. They are doing no such thing: they're not saying you have to use music from their store, in fact you can load music onto that iPod from anyplace you want (including pirated stuff).

        If you choose to get music from the iTMS, then it becomes locked to the iPod: but it's not as if the consumer doesn't have a number of alternatives besides the iTMS.

        Were Apple to make it so that
        • You had me up to here. They are doing no such thing: they're not saying you have to use music from their store, in fact you can load music onto that iPod from anyplace you want (including pirated stuff).

          I don't think you understand antitrust law. Whether or not you can load data from elsewhere is irrelevant. If Apple has a digital music player monopoly then it illegal for them to gain any advantage from that monopoly to gain market share in another market (DRM formats, jukebox software, OS's, or peppermi

    • Yes, because repurchasing the same content in each new format is not only the best way to spend the money I earn, it's also the best way to guarantee that companies will have high profit margins since they won't have to produce any new content.

    • You don't have to go beyond their premise:
      "If Apple can require an iPod for songs via iTunes..."
      An iPod is not required for iTunes! You can still play protected AAC files on PCs and Macs, and the application allowing you to play them is free(beer) (completely for PCs, bundled with the OS for Macs but also can be downloaded).
  • by Sierran (155611) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:16PM (#15550697)
    This is a common trend. I'm not a fan of zealous copyright wielding, and (full disclosure) I am an iPod owner. On the other hand, around 95% of the music on my iPod is there through having been ripped off a CD collection I've been accruing over the past 15 years. The Norwegian ombudsman's quote seems to me to miss the one critical point that other posters above me have had no trouble seeing: The fact that Apple is the sole source of the player but not the content. If they were the sole source of both, that would indeed be a problem. If there were no other way to get music onto an iPod, that would indeed be a problem. If there were no other way to get downloaded music from the internet legally onto an iPod, that would be a problem. However, those aren't true. You can buy music on CD. You can get it on vinyl. You can buy it from places like eMusic.com (no, I have no affiliation other than having paid them for a month of service) and download it as DRM-free MP3s, which can happily be loaded onto Apple's iTunes and iPod.


    The only part of the Apple solution that is 'locked' is the iTunes Music Store. And as we can see, everything available through there (with the exception of a few 'exclusive tracks!') is also available *elsewhere* - and there's a great deal of content that *isn't* available there. Furthermore, Apple makes no attempt to lock the iPod down from handling this other, DRM-free content (and if anyone whines 'it won't play format xxx' I slap them).


    At that point, the thing that their 'lock' is protecting is their 'ease of use' consumer flow. In other words, we built this thing in such a way that the only people who can extract rents from downloading music to it (i.e. use DRM to make people pay money to download music to it) is us. If people want to invest a little energy and time, they can put music on it to their heart's content without having to cope with anybody's DRM, but if they want to accept the DRM and pay the cash for ease-of-use, they have to pay it to us.


    That's what capitalism is all about. There's a perfectly good way onto the iPod for music that isn't from ITMS. If you don't want to pay Apple, don't. Buy a CD and rip it. Hell, record it yourself and load it. Your iPod will play it just fine. These bills have zip to do with protecting consumers, they have to do with protecting other businesses who want to extract their own rents in the DRM download market and want to freeload off the iPod's popularity. Screw 'em.

    • You have a lot of options:

      Buy CDs (or LPs).
      Buy non-DRM MP3s.
      Buy from iTMS and play it on your computer.
      Buy from iTMS and burn to CD and play anywhere.
      Buy from another vendor.
      Don't buy music at all..
      etc.
    • The only part of the Apple solution that is 'locked' is the iTunes Music Store... That's what capitalism is all about.

      We're talking about anti-trust law here. If Apple is wielding monopoly power in the digital music player space (which has yet to be determined by the courts) then advantaging themselves in any way in the separate music jukebox software space is a violation of the law. It doesn't matter that people can download some music from other places and put it on the iPod. It doesn't matter if they

      • I'm unsure of what exactly it means to be advantaging themselves in the 'music jukebox software' space. Their music jukebox software is free. The question at hand is whether their owning the iPod and using that to encourage users to utilize a particular service for content (iTMS) is illegal/wrong. Let me state that if Apple owned any of the content in question, and it was hence impossible to utilize the content in any other format (i.e. un-DRMed), then that's a problem. Here's the thing, though - the st
    • This isn't capitalism, this is "the Wal-Mart Effect". Apple has established itself as the gatekeeper of sorts for digital music. The Apple/iPod/iTunes brands are as synonymous with portable music players and online music stores as Wal-Mart is with consumer goods super stores. As with Wal-Mart, Apple is in the position of making market decisions for others, limiting choices for the consumer, by keeping their player from recognizing other file formats and selling only fairplay encoded AAC files through iTu
  • Norway not in EU (Score:3, Informative)

    by jabuzz (182671) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:35PM (#15550840) Homepage
    Er, Norway is not in the EU, so frankly what Bjorn Erik Thon thinks is of no importance whatsoever to what the EU competition officials might or might not do.
    • Re:Norway not in EU (Score:2, Informative)

      by handelaar (65505)
      It is, however, a member of the European Economic Area [wikipedia.org], and therefore both inside the single European market and bound by the trading obligations thereof.

      EFTA states (other than Switzerland, which isn't in the EEA) have their behaviour regulated by the ominous-sounding EFTA Surveillance Authority [eftasurv.int], rather than by the European Commission, on matters related to compliance with Single Market regulations.
  • What about other services like XBox live? Okay, so it's not a media distribution service so maybe that alone disqualifies the argument a little, but it is a service but they require you to have an unmodified XBox to use it... you can't just make your own device.
  • Apple doesn't require an iPod for iTunes. In order to transfer songs TO an iPod one must use iTunes. The only real arguement here is that in order to purchase songs via ITMS, one needs iTunes. It is, however; not required to use an iPod to listen to the songs. A Game Cube requires the use of software titles written for that machine and the software title needs the GC. If one chooses to participate in a closed hardware system, whether it's the iTunes-iPod, WMA or game consoles, that is the freedom of choice.
  • by Been on TV (886187) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:57PM (#15551007) Homepage

    We understand what the Norwegian Ombudsman and his department is saying, but in reality his is acting as a Microsoft shill. His department has never lifted a finger to make sure Microsoft DRM protected material is available to non-Microsoft customers in Norway.

    Best example of this is the government, (mandatory) license financed "Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation" (public TV and radio) that publish all their video content in Microsoft DRM protected format. The Ombudsman has done nothing to ensure that this material truely is available to the public; only to Microsoft customers. There are other public institutions in Norway as well that publish Microsoft DRM protected content only.

    If the ombudsman is eager to enforce Norwegian legislation in this area, he should first make sure the very government institutions and structure his department is a part of is in compliance with the law, before starting to go after one private company.

  • Something like this for ipods:

    "Warning: This player supports Digital Restrictions that may prevent you from exercising any right you have to transfer or backup your music"

    A similar warning could be put on ITMS checkout for the songs themselves.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwinNO@SPAMamiran.us> on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:19PM (#15551186) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand.

    1. You don't have to buy an iPod. You can buy any music player you want; and there are plenty of vendors. Furthermore, you can use any of your music players with Windows or OS X.
    2. You don't have to buy songs from iTunes. You can use any online service you want; and there are plenty of vendors. Unlike the OS scene, lower marketshare for Microsoft's online music store, or Real's online music store does != less content. Napster has 1.5 million pay-for songs on it. MSN music has millions, as does Rhapsody. Nobodies forcing you to use iTunes.
    3. iTunes *will* rip MP3 or AAC without an iPod, on both Windows and OS X. iTunes *will* copy MP3s or AACs to _any_ USB block device-style MP3 player, without you having to own an iPod. However you purchase non-DRM MP3s or AACs, you can manage them with iTunes, and copy them to _any_ USB block style device; including iPods.
    4. The iPod can be access without using iTunes. There's plenty of Linux tools, and a fair number of OS X and Windows tools. MP3s and/or AACs can be copied to your iPod.

    The ONLY limitation on the iPod/iTunes combination is AACs purchased on iTunes protected by FairPlay. Now, if iTunes had exclusive marketing agreements with the RIAA regarding content, or if the iTunes music store was the only online music store out there, or if no one made MP3 players but Apple; then there would be an anti-trust argument. As it is, the consumer *is not hurt* in *any* way by iTunes/iPod. You can buy a Samsung MP3 player, and play the _same_ exact music from the MSN Music store as you would have purchased from iTunes. Better yet, if you purchased non-DRMd music, you could managed it via iTunes and play it on your Samsung MP3 player.

    The iPod/iTunes combination is less of an anti-trust problem than Windows/Windows software, or Xbox360/Xbox games, or Blu-ray/BD-ROMS, and HD-DVD/HD-DVD disks. Out of all of these product "tie-ins", the online music market is the *only* one where you can purchase the same _exact_ content from multiple providers. It's actually a competitive landscape.

    Context is very important for antitrust. It's not about principle; in no way does Apple DRM limit market availability for RIAA music, unless the RIAA decides to exclusively license Apple, which they _have not done_. Now, I do believe that DRM is bad, but antitrust legislation is not the correct way to resolve it.

    Any argument you can come up with regarding iPod/iTunes applies 100 fold to Windows/Windows Media/Software/Music. Win32-only, or WMV only is a far bigger problem in terms of competition, and you can easily see that by comparing the online libraries of OS X content versus Win32 content.

    That all being said, product-tie-ins is one of the weakest forms of monopoly abuse. I suspect that all this noise regarding iTunes/iPod is being generated by Microsoft funding. Nothing else really makes sense. For god sakes, Apple has even started to license FairPlay, in terms of usage on Motorola's phones; and don't forget that Apple is NOT vertically integrated with content providers (RIAA).

    I'm all in favor of generalized legislation protecting the consumers right to reverse engineer DRM for us on . Should I be able to try and crack FairPlay in order to play DRMd AACs on my Rio Karma? Sure. It's retarded that reverse engineering content you've paid for for usage on a hardware you own is illegal. But legally busting Apple without going after Microsoft/Sony/Real/AACS/CSS/HDMI ? What fucking sense does that make?
  • uh, welcome to DRM! (Score:2, Informative)

    by marimbaman (194066)
    This is stupid. DRM and free competition are fundamentally incompatible.

    First they want DRM, now they whine that it's not *their* DRM? Tough luck.

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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