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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Music Apple

EU Countries Call Out iTunes DRM 457

Posted by Zonk
from the cue-the-gunfight-music dept.
seriouslywtf writes "Europe is upping the pressure on Apple to open up its restrictive DRM that ties iTunes to the iPod. Norway ruled last year that the iPod-iTunes tie-in was unreasonable and gave Apple a deadline to make a change to its policies, but was unsatisfied with the response they got. Now France and Germany have joined forces with Norway, making it a lot harder for Apple to just walk away from those markets. From the article: 'France's consumer lobby group, UFC-Que Choisir, and Germany's Verbraucherzentrale are now part of the European effort to push Apple into an open DRM system, with more countries considering joining the group. However, the company has been under some fire over the last year due to those restrictions, first with France and then Denmark looking to open up restrictive DRM schemes (including, but not limited to iTunes) ... Norwegian consumer groups were unimpressed by Apple's response. Norway has now given Apple a new deadline of September of this year to change its policies, and the pressure on Apple will likely grow in the months leading up to the deadline.'"
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EU Countries Call Out iTunes DRM

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:44PM (#17725626)
    Without the hardware tie in there's realy no incentive for Apple to keep running iTunes. Its the iPod & iTv sales that make them money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MillenneumMan (932804)
      Surely you jest. iTunes provides a vastly superior experience to the user: their music catalog is huge, the tools they provide to search for tunes and sample tunes is so much easier to use, their purchasing model is friendlier, and the sound quality is top notch. A magazine I subscribe to included in this month's issue a free 35 song sample from eMusic.com. I investigated it and the service was horrible in every way. Music catalog sucked. Finding songs in their catalog sucked. The sound quality of sam
      • by AusIV (950840)
        They may provide a superior service, but they don't make much profit (if any) on it directly. The purpose of the iTMS is to sell music that can be used on iPods, and consequently help iPod sales. If they were a standard music store that sold music for every platform, iPod sales would likely fall as some people would buy cheaper devices or devices with more features that could play their music. If iTunes had to accommodate other platforms, chances are prices would go up to compensate for hardware sales lost
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nick.ian.k (987094)

        A magazine I subscribe to included in this month's issue a free 35 song sample from eMusic.com. I investigated it and the service was horrible in every way. Music catalog sucked. Finding songs in their catalog sucked. The sound quality of samples sucked. Their purchasing options were limited to three subcription models. Even with free music samples I could not find any compelling reason to use their service. If a company wants to compete successfully against an iTunes, they better offer an advantage somewh

        • by Skadet (528657)

          I'd disagree about the sound-quality of samples from a functional perspective: why would you expect a free sample to sound particularly crystal-clear?

          Ever been to the grocery store (or Costco) when they're handing out free samples? They don't make the free samples taste like moldy dung because they're "not making any money" on them -- they just make the samples smaller. Samples are (theoretically) a small, yet indicative representation of what you'd get for your purchase. . . whether it's food or music.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rvw (755107)

        A magazine I subscribe to included in this month's issue a free 35 song sample from eMusic.com. I investigated it and the service was horrible in every way. Music catalog sucked. Finding songs in their catalog sucked. The sound quality of samples sucked. Their purchasing options were limited to three subcription models. Even with free music samples I could not find any compelling reason to use their service.

        I've used emusic. Their catalog is limited compared to ITMS. That's true. I can't judge the sound quality of your samples, but they offer 192 bit MP3 download. ITMS offers 128 bit AAC with DRM. Maybe AAC is better than MP3, but I don't think ITMS offers better quality. Then emusic offers MP3, no DRM!

        Their publishing options are limited to three subscription models. What do you want to say here? That this is a bad thing? ITMS only has one option. Normally emusic is a lot cheaper than ITMS. The cheapest

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by tetsuo29 (612440)
        I have the exact opposite opinion of eMusic. I think their music catalog is great. I do agree that the subscription model is a bit tiresome, but I find it worth putting up with as they have a lot of content that I want. I currently have 75 albums in my "Saved for Later" playlist on eMusic and I enjoy downloading 1 or 2 albums per weekend in high quality variable bit rate, non DRM'ed MP3 format. eMusic is what is keeping me out of the used CD bins that I used to so frequently visit (sorry local CD shops). I
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SeaFox (739806)

        I investigated it and the service was horrible in every way. Music catalog sucked.

        eMusic carries what they can. If you're upset you can't find your favorite artist on eMusic, the culprit is 90% of the time going to be the label the artist is on doesn't want eMusic to sell the songs due to lack of DRM.

        It's getting really old hearing people bitch about how eMusic has no good music, like they're the ones responsible for that. You can't have lots of Top-40/Major Label artists and no DRM at the same time. Pick o

  • Priorities (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm as anti-DRM as the next communist terrorist hippie, but where do the priorities begin here? Why not make the effort to follow through on removing Microsoft's stranglehold on "standards" to open up before they make their way to Apple? Which is more important -- the computers we use everyday, or the music we listen to on them?
  • Bout time. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elcid73 (599126) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:47PM (#17725672) Homepage
    Apple, I'll still choose to buy music from you because you continue to offer the most seemless system for music management. Just don't force me to do it. You made a good system, just trust in it.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      So rip the music to cd, convert that to mp3 and do exactly what you want with the music you bought....

      iTunes allows that without difficulty.
      • by HuguesT (84078)
        The point has been made several times that the resulting mp3 are of lesser quality than the original DRM-encumbered AAC files, and that this action requires time.
      • by elcid73 (599126)
        I *do* do that, but only because I have to.

        My point is that even if they removed any restrictions, I would still buy an iPod and I would buy tracks from iTunes because the entire experience is better than what I've seen elsewhere.

    • In particular, I don't think you've ever actually used iTunes - either the store or the player. Or an iPod for that matter.

      If you had, you'd know that Apple isn't forcing anyone to buy music from iTMS. Me, I've been using iTunes since the beginning of this century and I've somehow managed to never buy any music from iTMS.

      Of course, I've had Apple goons break my legs a couple times, but they can pry the MP3's out of my cold, dead hands. (And they're trying. I've experienced a couple drive-by shootings in
      • by elcid73 (599126)
        What part of "choose" do you not understand?

        I *choose* to spend money on tracks on iTune because it's easy for me. I don't wnat to spend the time to buy a CD, take it home, unwrap it, and click "burn"

        I also don't want to search Peer-to-peer sites, find the version that has some semblance of the correct meta-data and deal with it that way.

        I know Apple isn't forcing me to use their system. I just don't care about *a lot* (ie- not all) of my music enough to really care about it. ...and please don't give me c
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:48PM (#17725698) Journal
    What a great country I live in. Here we have legislators in the pockets of media companies proposing laws that would require DRM [arstechnica.com], but in Europe, the legislators (apparantly acting on behalf of the populus, which is what I thought the "of the people, by the people, and for the people" US government is SUPPOSED to do) are rightly saying that DRM is unfair to the people.

    Is this a great country, or what?

    Sigh.

    -S

    • by simpl3x (238301)
      Hopefully this will be applied across the board. Does the Zune also infringe upon such laws. If there is going to be DRM, I am at least happy with the way iTunes handles it, and I typically avoid it by purchasing CDs, discarding the empty shell afterwards.

      I burn at 128, a lower resolution copy, which is within fair use for those who wish to call me a thief...
    • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:28PM (#17726390)

      ...but in Europe, the legislators ... are rightly saying that DRM is unfair to the people.

      They are? It sounds to me like they are just trying to make digital music player makers, distributors, etc. license each others' DRM schemes to increase DRM interoperability. If they were saying that "DRM is unfair to the people", they could just ban it. That would also address both of their complaints (iTunes songs don't play on non-iPods, iPods don't play DRM-encumbered songs bought elsewhere) as people would use the MP3 format for songs, and it plays on everything.

    • by mungtor (306258)
      Don't overlook that these are foreign companies ruling against a US based one. I'm sure that their motives are far less altruistic than you might think. Probably more along the lines of "What legislation can I pass that gets me positive PR *and* stops giving money to the Americans?".

      Apple has a lock on the market and this is just a political move. The only difference is that the politicians involved aren't owned by the US government this time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by massysett (910130)
      What you say is quite odd, because the Europeans are not being pro-consumer. They are being pro-record label.

      The Europeans want Apple to make its DRM more widely available. Who wants DRM? Not consumers. What consumer says "ohh, I love DRM, give me more of that"? Nobody. At best consumers tolerate DRM.

      DRM is there because record labels want it. The Europeans want it to be easier for labels to use DRM. How is that pro-consumer?

      As for the whole lock-in argument, I don't buy it. Apple does not lock anybody in t
  • Why Apple? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevinbr (689680) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:49PM (#17725716)
    Surely it is the job of the RIAA/Record labels to define an open DRM standard. After all they are the ones who demand DRM. Apple did not demand DRM on their own. Of course DRM suits Apple to tie users lightly into the iPod.

    In any case, no user is actually tied - just burn a playlist on to a CD and copy the MP3's to any device.

    Should Wallmart be forced to allow K-Mart to sell goods via the Wallmart checkout systems?

    • the deal here is that while "techies" may know how to get around the DRM you cannot easily integrate an iPod without using iTunes and you cannot easily use iTunes with another MP3 player.

      The problem becomes, whats in it for Apple? I think now that the iPod is so successful that there is little risk allowing iTunes to work with other players, other than the support issues that the other players just foul up iTunes. Same goes for the reverse, allowing the iPod to be easily integrated to other Music managers
    • I think Apple actually loves their DRM. It used to be that they lamented it and put some in, but they are so fiercely protecting it with a fervor that exceeds that of the RIAA.
  • Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:51PM (#17725754)
    "You're being too successful. Please stop."

    Look, I loathe DRM as much as the next guy, but Apple's not using their market dominance to smack around, say, Microsoft from making a run at them. Microsoft is doing a FINE job all by themselves at lousing up their attempts to dethrone Apple. :-)

    Ergo, this is just market forces at work. The market has spoken, and people prefer the iPod and iTunes to the competition. Until there's good evidence that iTunes prevents someone from, say, playing a WMA file on Windows or the like, Apple's in the clear on this. Let them have their success, and stop monkeying with the system.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No DRM system is open, so it's silly to ask for "open DRM". Apple is the wrong target; the right target for this sort of action is the record companies which refuse to sell music that isn't deliberately stripped of interoperability.
  • Wrong solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:52PM (#17725770) Journal

    DRM, by definition, causes vendor lock-in. If DRM schemes were licensed under a fair and non-discriminatory policy then they would not work, because anyone who wanted to get around them would be able to get the specification. You could even legally create an open source application which did all of the rights checking inside #ifdefs so if someone defined the IGNORE_DRM symbol then they could compile a version that decrypted the DRM'd content but didn't apply any restrictions. This wouldn't even be illegal, since they would be distributing the version that respected the DRM and end users would be applying the modification.

    The correct solution, then, is not for lawmakers to go after Apple, but for them to go after DRM in general. Except on books [pingwales.co.uk], where it makes perfect sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bastian (66383)
      My personal favorite solution is to sit back and let this all die out.

      I figure in some random interval unit of time (5 years, maybe?) someone will come along and successfully dethrone the iPod as the default MP3 player. When this happens, consumers are going to be in for a bit of a shock when they realize that none of their AAC files will play (out-of-the-box, anyway) on their shiny new non-iPod player. The same will happen for people who buy Zunes.

      And when that happens, the market is going to decide very
    • Plenty of manufactures make devices capable of playing Microsoft DRM'ed files, that is what they mean by "open" DRM.

      All of the consumers that have purchased music from ITMS cannot play their music in anything but Apple products. Its anti-competitive and Apple should be punished for their behavior.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Plenty of manufactures make devices capable of playing Microsoft DRM'ed files
        No they don't, they make devices capable of playing PlaysForSure files. Microsoft's DRM files, however, only play on the Zune.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      DRM, by definition, causes vendor lock-in. If DRM schemes were licensed under a fair and non-discriminatory policy then they would not work, because anyone who wanted to get around them would be able to get the specification.

      Well, you forget, those who would own the specification have no interest in it being licensed "under a fair and non-discriminatory polilcy".

      You would have to spend $100,000 to get the document, and you would have to sign agreements not to release the information, or use it as a way of c

    • Re:Wrong solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by modeless (978411) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @03:06PM (#17727758) Journal
      There is no need for lawmakers to "go after" DRM; it is only necessary for them to stop protecting it. It's ironic: these countries are "calling" for Apple to make it possible to play iTunes files on other hardware, when software to enable this already exists. It's called myFairTunes6. If it was simply made legal, then problem solved!

      Imagine a country in which it was legal to make and even sell software/hardware for the explicit purpose of breaking DRM for interoperability purposes. Software companies could openly employ DRM-breakers like DVD Jon and muslix64. You could go to the store and buy a copy of DeCSS or BackupHDDVD or myFairTunes6, only with user-friendly interfaces developed by paid coders. With the full resources of a completely legal software/hardware company at the disposal of DRM-breakers, it is quite obvious that *no* form of DRM would stand a chance.
  • ...are now part of the European effort to push Apple into an open DRM system...

    I really don't see the point for end users. Music from iTunes store can still be restricted by "Open DRM" to only run on iPod. Music from other providers can have confusing and different restrictions on number of PCs, number/type of devices and expiration time. The only "Open DRM" is an unencrypted MP3 or AAC, but that is already available on iPod.
  • by owlicks58 (560207) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:53PM (#17725796) Homepage
    I don't understand the logic behind this. This sounds akin to demanding from Sony that Playstation 3 discs run on all other gaming systems. This isn't an issue of vendor lock in, as it was with Microsoft making it difficult for home users to use anything but Internet Explorer with Windows. If European consumers don't want to deal with the DRM on the iTunes store, then they should not purchase songs from there, it's as simple as that. I can see no reason why Apple should be under some kind of obligation to allow a product that people are well aware only plays on the iPod to play on other MP3 players. Does someone care to enlighten me as to why this makes any logical sense whatsoever?
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      This sounds akin to demanding from Sony that Playstation 3 discs run on all other gaming systems.

      No, because PS3 games cannot technically run on any other hardware (barring an emulator running on some insanely powerful machine). However, AAC/MP3/etc. files can technically be played on lots of different hardware but Apple is intentionally crippling them to run on their platform only.

  • did the EU also contact MS about the Zune marketplace?
  • Just say no to .no!
  • Or what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jerry Rivers (881171) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:08PM (#17726072)
    "Norway has now given Apple a new deadline of September of this year to change its policies...."

    Or else they will send a letter to Apple telling them how upset they are.
  • I know this is somewhat off topic, but I see that there are ad-sense type ads on this discussion for software that allows you to get songs off of an iPod. Now, I know that slashdot wouldn't exist without advertising, however, in this case, the ads do clueless readers a disservice.

    No one should have to pay to get their music off of their iPod. Hell, even Apple now has a page that explains how to do this without any additional software other than iTunes:

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=300 173 [apple.com]

    Al
    • by geekoid (135745)
      So? you can also change your own oil, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to pay someone to do it for you.
      just like you can buy softare that doesn't thing as a convience for the consumer.

  • by Jumperalex (185007) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:09PM (#17726096)
    Without getting into the "correctness" of the EU's position ("just don't buy it" speaks loudly to me) I fail to see the issue here.

    Instead of forcing Apple/et al to open up their standards, simply make it legal to break that very DRM if it isn't open. You will very quickly see applications for sale to do it (come out from the shadows) and the Apples of the world will be motivated to change to an open standard.
  • mhhmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jm.one (655706) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:11PM (#17726124)
    1. Norway is not part of the EU. 2. I cant see how actually an EU country is doing something here.. only organizations that work in this countries.... Conclusion: Catchy but wrong title
  • You can't bash Apple! They are holy! They are beyond good and evil! You can't compare them to petty ruffians such as the RIAA. Why, these damned Europeans don't seem to be able to distinguish between the criminal scum of the RIAA and the sacred institution of Apple, Inc. They are by no means the same, nor even comparable. If Steve Jobs backdated his stock option purchases it is just reward for having saved the world, transformed it in revolutionary ways, changed the very way we work, play, live, and envisio
  • What exactly is the tie-in? You can certainly use an ipod without itunes (I'm doing it on my Ubuntu box right now, as a matter of fact). You can just as easily use the itunes music store without owning an ipod. Neither of these require owning an apple iMac or MacPro, either.

    I suppose the only real tie-in is that you cannot reasonably use an ipod without having access to a computer. Given how popular ipods are now a days, I bet some people did try that along the ways. :-)

    As for using ipods with other mus
  • by franksands (938435) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:25PM (#17726338) Homepage Journal
    Apple has one of least troublesome DRMs, and there's not really a tie-in, since you can put any mp3 file in the iPod, and use a program like winAmp to do so. Why don't they bother MS, Sony or EMI that has much more draconian DRM systems. I mean, as long as these are legitimate and genuine complaints, and just suing the company they would profit the most, considering how much Apple has of the mp3 player market.
  • Seems the only way Microsoft's Zune could compete was to buy a country.
  • I personally like to download a non-DRM copy from P2P along with the copy song purchased from iTunes. While technically not legal, I seriously think that any litigation taken against me would not hold up in court. If I can burn the iTunes music and rerip into a non-DRM format then I can arguably just dowload the copy as a more expedient alternative. I won't share the song after it has been downloaded. Moreover, I don't think the courts would uphold restrictions on obtaining non-DRM copies when the music is
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SithLordOfLanc (683305) <dmocrap@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:07PM (#17727034)
    I fully expect to get modded into oblivian for this, however;

    There are many arguements below that make the case that you have the RIGHT to buy music without restriction and that the music companies MUST sell it that way. My questions is, why? They own the rights to the product, they have the right to dictate how they want to sell it. The only real right you have is to NOT buy it.

    If you want the laws changed to that you have the explicit RIGHT to platform shift, get the law changed. Like it or not, according to the DCMA, there are cases where you don't have that right.

    If you want music that is unencumbered by DRM, buy it from somewhere that sells it that way. Buy CDs that don't have copy protection, if you stumble on one that does, return it as defective.
  • Protectionism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @04:26PM (#17728830)
    I don't think this is about giving more choice to consumers. Europe is full of monopolies like the BBC who agressively go after people for fees the same way the RIAA goes after people for file sharing, and countries like France where the "visual style" of clothing is considered and IP and people can go to jail for copying another's "style"... and the same EU that wants to make it illegal to sell Champaign that isn't from Champaign, or make it illegal to sell Parmisan cheese made outside of Parmigiano. Monopolies and restrictions in order to benifit certain companies and economic interests are rampant in Europe. There are hundreds of things hurting European consumers far worse than iTunes.

    This action is more about protectionism, and scoring a few cheap political points with the anti-American populous by going after a visible U.S. corporation, than about protecting consumers. If the E.U. really wanted to protect consumers, they would simply ban all DRM, and the problem would be solved! Of course, then they would piss off big European media companies like Vivendi, who are looking to create a DRMed locked-in European digital music monopoly.

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