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U.S. Backs Apple's iTunes DRM 327

Posted by Zonk
from the support-from-the-top dept.
breun writes "The U.S. has asked foreign governments to consider the effects of interfering with popular new technologies, pointing to recent scrutiny of Apple's iTunes Music Store as an example of bad judgment. The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust chief Thomas Barnett cited recent foreign proposals to impose restrictions on Apple's iTunes service as an example of strict regulation which could discourage innovation and hurt consumers." From the Washington Post article: "In prepared remarks, Barnett said the scrutiny of Apple 'provides a useful illustration of how an attack on intellectual property rights can threaten dynamic innovation.' Barnett said Apple should be applauded for creating a legal, profitable and easy-to-use system for downloading music and other entertainment via the Internet."
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U.S. Backs Apple's iTunes DRM

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  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:56PM (#16108572) Homepage
    Really? And here I thought it just represented some government's that are *shock* looking out for their constituents right! THE HORROR!
    • Of course their constituents are big business, not you nor I.
    • Really? And here I thought it just represented some government's that are *shock* looking out for their constituents right! THE HORROR!

      Ummm.... Well doesn't that mean this is bad government in action.

      For one Apple isn't their constituent and secondly DRM is not in the interest of the average American's list of problems or needs.

      If corporations could vote at the ballot box, then I'd say it would be different.

      As it is, they can only "vote" with their money.

  • by User 956 (568564) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:56PM (#16108573) Homepage
    'a useful illustration of how an attack from intellectual property rights-holders can threaten dynamic innovation.'

    Fixed that for you, Barnett.
  • "All your music are belong to us" -GW
  • by ijakings (982830) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:59PM (#16108613)
    The U.S. Government has recieved and gratefully appreciates Apples donation.
    • The U.S. Government has recieved and gratefully appreciates Apples donation.

      Apple is mentioned, but you can add the hords of RIAA, MPAA and any other entity who has financial interests with regards to DRM. I thought the senate and the president ran the country, I should have remembered it is the lobbyists and those with deep pockets.
    • The Jeb Bush 2008 presidential campaign fund has received and gratefully appreciates Apples donation. Brother George will be in touch with you shortly to discuss adequate compensation for your generosity.


      There... fixed that for ya.
  • So how much is Apple paying into the "Inside The Beltway" lobbying fund to get this level of government support?
  • Call me stupid.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#16108642) Homepage Journal
    Isn't the whole point of DRM to restrict what consumers can do, thereby harming consumers?
    How TF can restricting DRM then harm consumers?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How TF can restricting DRM then harm consumers?

      It's simple. Only Hollywood can create entertaining things. Hollywood is expensive, Jennifer Lopez's shirts cost $500 apiece at least. To pay for those kinds of threads, entertainment must be paid for, extensively, on a per-copy or better yet per-view basis. By restricting DRM, people can see entertainment without paying per view or per copy, which means that Hollywood will have to stop releasing digital entertainment or go bankrupt. And if that happened, Jenni
      • by Amouth (879122)
        "Jennifer Lopez might starve and die" heh , heh... now i would pay to watch that...
        • "Jennifer Lopez might starve and die" heh , heh... now i would pay to watch that...

          It doesn't seem to be the poor trying to starve themselves in Hollywood.
    • Isn't the whole point of DRM to restrict what consumers can do, thereby harming consumers?
      How TF can restricting DRM then harm consumers?

      Because then the RIAA/MPAA can say electronic distribution systems aren't doing enough to protect their IP, pull their material, and sue the distributors into obscurity.
      Until artists stop signing away their souls to the **AA, DRM will be a necessary evil for legal non-physical distribution schemes.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Simon80 (874052)
        This is complete bullshit. The *AA will never, ever "pull their material", because if they did, they'd be shooting themselves in the foot, and not be making money. If you mean pull just the internet sales, don't forget, the CD fallback has no copy protection at all. Imagine MS complaining that it's going to pull Windows from the market. Oh no, are they really? At the expense of huge market share? I think not. Also, if any of these lobbies (RIAA, MPAA, MS) actually followed through with such a threat,
      • Until artists stop signing away their souls to the **AA, DRM will be a necessary evil for legal non-physical distribution schemes.

        You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • yer stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:16PM (#16108770) Homepage Journal
      If governments don't allow companies to create cool new stuff and sell them however they want, then consumers won't get to buy cool new stuff. That'd be free market thinkin.

      If you don't like Apple's DRM, go buy a CD. It's not like Apple is a label and is keeping music from being released for other platforms (yes, I meant it that way).

      (Someone correct me if I'm wrong - is Apple Computer doing exclusive media deals with anyone?)

      Finally, if you don't like Apple's DRM, then burn the tunes to a regular CD and do whatever you want with it. (someone is going to say "yeah, but that's not really CD quality audio", to which I say "yeah, but CDs aren't vinyl quality audio")
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Macgrrl (762836)

        I tried to purchase a Stan Ridgway CD. I could not find it in Australia anywhere. I could not find it on Amazon. Eventually I located the artist's personal website which said he was no longer pressing CDs but selling all his back catalog through the iTunes store.

        Excellent, I say. The iTunes store is due to open any time now in Australia (this happened a while back - I had been trying to buy the albums for some time). The iTunes store is finally launched, I find the album and try to buy it.... Unfortunately

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RexRhino (769423)
      How TF can restricting DRM then harm consumers?

      Because most media companies won't release media unless it is DRMed. So no DRM means no media.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Keeper (56691)
      This has nothing to do with DRM. It has to do with forcing a company to give away something they created for free.

      It discourages risk taking. If you have a neat idea that could take the world by store, but it will cost a bunch of money to create, why would you want to take that risk if you're going to be forced to give that technology away once it catches on?

      It encourages copy-cats. Why spend the R&D effort developing something unique and original (something that may or may not be successfull) when y
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" --Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution

      I take it you don't believe much in that one then, as it's all about restricting the rights of the consumers for the benefit of consumers. Now, I'm not saying I buy into this argument but: DRM => People buy, not pirate => Authors and Inventors are compensated =>
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:02PM (#16108645)
    IOW: Only the US has the right to make laws.
    Only the USA can liberate things, people and oil.
    No country is allowed to break USA-created-DRM.
  • Too easy to see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16108658)
    Too easy to see whose side our government is on. And this from an Anti-Trust Chief of all people!
  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16108659) Journal
    The US GOVERNMENT is warning other governments against too much regulation?
  • I call BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hendrik42 (593357) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16108660)
    This is obviously more business interest than concern for foreign consumers speaking.
    How does openness and interoperability between different devices discourage competition? Of course it discourages Apple from donating money to "a top U.S. antitrust official" :-)
    And how exactly am I as a customer being hurt by being able to play your music where I want? I'll probably get a heart attack from overenjoying myself.
    • by Vancorps (746090)
      This is just another phase of the war on heart disease man. They are only trying to protect you from yourself.
  • They're right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swarsron (612788) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:08PM (#16108710)
    Many here on slashdot will attack them for their viewpoint but basically they're right. So what do i mean with "basically"?
    You, the consumers, should have no obligation to go into contract with anyone if you don't like the conditions. But the people offering stuff have exactly the same right. So if they choose to use terms like "we have the right to fuck you in the ass if you purchase this music file" then they have every right to do so and if you accept those contracts you gonna have to put up with something you most probably don't like. But this is your CHOICE.

    This hole topic is just not a problem. If you don't like big corporations using DRM to violate your rights (the way you percive them) then don't use their services. It's not like we're talking food or other essential stuff, just ignore their offering and they'll learn by themself. Any other behaviour either encourages them or weakens your standpoint.
    • Re:They're right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bunions (970377) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:11PM (#16108732)
      > it's not like we're talking food or other essential stuff

      thin end of the wedge. GM foods are basically IP, and I see no reason you couldn't try to make the precedent from one area fit another.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by swarsron (612788)
        I can see a reason. IT'S FOOD!

        Music just isn't the same. It's not that important. And if it's as important to you than make you're decision by voting with your money (which would be a good idea IMHO)
        • by bunions (970377)
          > I can see a reason. IT'S FOOD! Music just isn't the same.

          Well, but it is, in the way I'm talking about. They're both intellectual property. Why should the IP laws that apply to one be different than another? Music and software are pretty different too, but we're still stuck with the same IP laws applying to both.
    • Re:They're right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:19PM (#16108800)

      Bold statements considering you couldn't put such a clause in contracts. Believe it or not there are limits to what a contract can do. The one exception is military service but that contract isn't your standard intellectual property license. They do not have the right to restrict my fair use of their product no matter what their license agreement is. I never signed a contract for any music I've ever bought so we don't even have to worry about that.

      The solution to the problem would be pretty simple if everyone would just stop purchasing content that is DRM protected. This is not a realistic goal however so please, find another method. Getting 300 million people to agree is impossible. Hell, even getting a million people to agree on something is quite difficult. This method would never work here in the real world. The solution is to break the DRM time and time again until they realize the method won't work and they actually need to give people an incentive to move to new formats when the old format is not deficient. Why should I pay for music in digital format when I already have a cd with music stored in a digital format? It doesn't make sense. If I vegetable oil I am not required to use it to grease a pan or use in a cake. I can do whatever I want with it including throwing it into a diesel engine. I don't need their permission to render in into another substance. It's a reasonably bad example in terms of copyright but fair use exists and DRM is a blatant violation of that fair use.

      • >>Getting 300 million people to agree is impossible. Hell, even getting a million people to agree on something is quite difficult

        How many Indians boycotted English cotton?

        I think the whole ipod fad is insane, I'll stick with mp3s.
        • by Vancorps (746090)

          Okay, I overexaggerated. It is possible. Getting 300 million people to agree that murder is wrong without cause is easy as well. I don't think this is on the level required to achieve that unanimity required to accomplish the goal the parent made out as so simple. Utopia sounds great and that is something 300 million people can agree on too. Of course the definition of Utopia for those 300 million will be different.

          Personally I don't see the ipod as a fad that is going away anytime soon if ever. I'm with

    • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:30PM (#16108906)
      This hole topic is just not a problem. If you don't like big corporations using DRM to violate your rights (the way you percive them) then don't use their services

      This works in theory and practice with itunes: You still can buy in other online music stores or even buy the CD

      It's very different in the case of DVD, though. Because the companies who make movies are the same companies who control the "electronics" market, consumers didn't have a choice, they were imposed what format they should use, like if they were living on Russia when Communism was still there. I just don't understand why companies are allowed to be big enought that they control EVERYTHING on a given market. It's like the companies who make petrol would also make cars and would make their petrol compatible only with their engines, and if other company tried to build a car compatible with their petrol would get sued. IMO this is anti-liberal and goes against capitalism. Should people be allowed to create big enterprises that create jobs? Hell, yes. Should those companies be allowed to control the market and lock out competitors? Hell, NO.

      Remember that the ONE reason why you can see DVD in Linux is because someone broke the DRM protection. In the case of Itunes, it's clear that its DRM isn't dangerous, since you can buy other players and use other music stores. But if itunes would got 99% of the online music market, it WOULD be a problem. So DRM can be both good and bad - it's up to the government to make laws to stop it from being bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 9mind (702505)
      Parent post is THE only true insightful one I've read yet. I don't like EA's business practices, thus, I haven't bought an EA game since the days whe nthey refused to support the Sega Dreamcast. People think I'm crazy, because I miss out on "cool" games! But if I don't like something in principle, the easiest way to voice my distaste is with my dollars! Not with some bullshit legislation... I wish I could mod you up.
    • Re:They're right (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cronius (813431) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:48PM (#16109058)
      In my opinion that's a naive response, more of a kneejerk reaction than thought through.

      These battles have been fought countless times in the past, this is nothing new. Corporation X gets big and gets lots of power. The executives use that power to get what they want leaving them even more power.

      Take childeren's factories in third world countries. You could say "hey, they didn't have to work there you know," but it shows that you don't get it. In the west it's illegal to hire small children to work because we've learned the hard way that even if they have a "choice" not to work, the choice to actually do it is always a bad one and thus shouldn't be legal in the first place. It's illegal in order to protect those who can't make that decision/don't know any better/don't think they have a choice etc.

      The same thing goes here. Some european countries are putting their foot down in order to protect their citicens. They're not idiots, they understand that agreeing to the terms of Apple (in this case) will always leave the consumer loosing. By forcing the corporations to not play that game, you've automatically protected whoever that would have agreed to those unfair rules. In doing this, it's not possible to do business which are unfair to the customer, and as such those business pratices simply disappear: It's illegal.

      What's left? Business that treats the customer fairly. Instead you want less fair business, traded away in exchange for more yet unfair choice.

      The playing field is equal for everyone. If Apple can't survive without treating the customers unfairly, they're doing a shitty job, since it's no problem for everyone else to play nicely and still have a pretty fine profit.
  • by delta_avi_delta (813412) <dave DOT murphy AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:09PM (#16108720)
    Apple 'provides a useful illustration of how an attack on intellectual property rights can threaten dynamic innovation.'

    Third party manufacturers cannot make Wi-Fi or UPNP streaming devices since they can't decrypt the DRM, programmers can't write plugins to dynamically mash-up your favourite tracks, etc etc etc, since Apple impedes your property rights with their digital restricitons.
  • Some innovations should be stifled. 'Innovation' itself is neither good or bad, but particular innovations sure can be one or the other..
  • That VOIP and peer-to-peer are technologies that threaten life on Earth itself -- or so the Administration has contended -- while Apple's DRM should be exempt from regulation because regulation is bad for innovation.

    Can someone explain this to me? I'm just not getting it.
  • by aramael (892701) <aramael@gmail.com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:19PM (#16108802)
    ... legal, profitable and easy-to-use system for downloading music

    I get to pick two, right?
  • Just as soon as you all stop interfering with us, we'll do that. Thanks so much.
  • by NoSuchGuy (308510) <do-not-harvest-m ... dot@spa.mtrap.de> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:23PM (#16108840) Journal
    "The U.S. has asked foreign governments to consider the effects of interfering with popular new technologies,"
    What about trying to regulate the web via "Net Neutrality"?

  • Oh sure. I agree. The DRM is an excellent example of how the property rights of the public domain can be violated. Since the stated purpose of copyright is to encourage innovation, it's illogical (and an ex-post facto law) for the copyright extension to be applied retroactively to works already created.

    The DMCA "discourages innovation" by preventing people from referse engineering their software, even for the purpose of interoperability. Why doesn't congress reflect on that for a while.

    • It seems you've taken the concept of copyright out of context. It is supposed to encourage creativity by LOCKING up rights to just copy a product. We (my company) isn't going to spend thousands of dollars to make something if another company can just reverse engineer and release the same product at a fraction of the cost (since they only had to reverse engineer an existing product).

      I am on the fence on this one. Yes, on the one hand you want stuff to work with everyone else, but to me it's also same as

      • Re:oh, certainly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:17PM (#16109289)
        Recently, copyright was extended on works that had already been created. How does that incent creativity? The works were set to belong to the public domain and were stolen from them and given back to the creators for an additional period. How is that even legal?

        Likewise, sampling is legal under copyright. A copyright owner does and should have limits as to how many specifications they can set on the use of their work.

        but to me it's also same as getting pissed at GM because a Ford transmission doesn't hook up to it.

        To use your metaphore, to me it's like saying that it's illegal to hook a Ford transmission up to a GM car, or to own the tools needed to even open the hood since by opening the hood someone might very well copy the technology inside. Because of course we didn't actually buy a Ford, only the license to drive one, or somthing along those lines. If GM wants to make transmissions for Ford cars, it has every right to do so, even if that means taking apart a Ford to do it. As long as they don't start making Fords, they're in fair territory.

        When one company has a near monopoly on Operating Systems or any other tool, then of course it has an unfair advantage in the realm of software production or the production of any product which relies on that first tool. The DMCA is the legal mechanism which secures that advantage.
  • This argument in favor of DRM sounds rather like an old argument over slavery. Did a slave owner have the "right" to bring slaves into free states? And once there, did the slave owner have the right not be deprived of his "property" should said property escape? Indeed, the state might be obliged to assist the owner in recovering his property. Anyone who saw a fugitive slave and didn't report it might even be in trouble for negligence and dereliction of duty. Any state that granted such property rights

  • by kindbud (90044) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:41PM (#16108999) Homepage
    Excessive government interference can deter innovation and encourage rival companies to "devote their resources to legal challenges rather than business innovation," he (Barnett) added.

    Exactly. When the DMCA was passed, it open a floodgate of lawsuits by the recorded music manufacturing industry against its own consumers. This consumed valuable resources, and stifled the market's ability to force the recorded music vendors to innovate and come up with new products that their consumers wanted to buy.

    I can't find any fault with this statement of his.
  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:45PM (#16109034) Homepage Journal
    Without iTunes DRM, the major music companies wouldn't allow Apple to sell music in the iTunes store. Same holds true for other online music sales sites (think of the ones that the RIAA is okay with). If you get rid of the iTunes DRM, we'd all still be paying for an entire CD instead of just the songs we want to listen to.

    Some of you will claim that the solution is to purchase non-RIAA music, which is fine. There are some RIAA bands I enjoy, however, so for me that's not a solution. Obviously in the case of iTunes, DRM is actually helping consumers. It may not allow us to do everything we want, but it gives us one additional choice in how we get our music.
    • Without DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GodWasAnAlien (206300)
      Without DRM, there would still be a market to sell music online.

      If RIAA, did not want to profit from this, there would be many that would.

      The younger generation would buy/download online, not get CD's, whether or not the RIAA was selling.

      Eventually the RIAA would sell online without DRM like everyone else.

      DRM allows the RIAA to keep the old disposible media model (LP-8Track-Cassette-CD), where the consumers keep re-purchasing the same media. Consumers being able to have a "permanent" copy is scary to the R
  • How exactly does government support of monopolies of proprietary, encrypted information formats encourage innovation?

    From the nature of DRM, you cannot compete directly, by creating compatible products, especially when DMCA type laws attempt to make such competition illegal.

    Also, by the nature of current DRM, there is no expiration, so this leads to infinite copyrights, which ultimately lead to less inovation, and more disposible information/data/discoveries/art.

    DRM, if mandated by the US Government violat

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