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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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  • Priorities (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:46PM (#17725656)
    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 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

  • 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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:51PM (#17725756)
    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.

  • 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 VJ42 (860241) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:59PM (#17725898)

    There is *no pressure* on Apple to bow down to any of the EUs demands
    Indeed, Norway isn't even part of the EU, the title is a little misleading. However, if the EU as a whole followed the trail layed by Norway (instead of just a couple of EU countries), then apple could be in trouble, pulling out of a market as large as that of the now 27 member EU, would be a bad idea, there would be more to gain by following the rules than there would be to lose from exiting the market.
  • by elcid73 (599126) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:02PM (#17725952) Homepage
    Or realize it but don't care. Last time I brought this up I got blasted by Slashdot because people seem to think that just because I don't want golden, infinite access to every track purchased since I was 5 years old that that somehow means I have horrible taste in music. Slashdot group thing seems to completely neglect the fact that a dollar for a track is worth it (to me) to get a good amount of use in a very convenient manner (where convenient means: purchase, sync, correct meta-data, no virus, searching, ethical dilemas,etc...) ...but if tomorrow I lose the song, I'm not going to miss out considerably. If I really like and want to keep something- I'd just go buy the whole CD. Or... just get over it. That 99cents is the price I pay for "easy"
  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:03PM (#17725964)
    That is not specific to Apple. That is endemic, and actually the point, of DRM of any kind. If that was a reason to target Apple, the target should be broadened to attack any and all DRM.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:04PM (#17725978) Homepage Journal

    The government of Norway is still not satisfied iTunes DRM, and has given Apple until September to change iTunes. Also, consumer advocacy groups in France and Germany are pushing for Apple to change the iTunes DRM.

    So one EU government (out of 27), has issued an ultimatum to Apple. Consumer lobby groups in two other EU nations are also advocating against iTunes DRM.

  • by MillenneumMan (932804) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:06PM (#17726022)
    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 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 somewhere.
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:06PM (#17726032)
    I hope you are sarcastic...

    That easily takes 15 minutes per cd (burning and ripping), and results in quality loss (as 128kbit AAC is good enough, but re-ripping to another format is a bit much).
    The time aspect alone makes this route prohibitive...
  • Re:Wrong solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bastian (66383) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:09PM (#17726082)
    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 strongly against DRM, either by switching to a non-encumbered or less boneheadedly-implemented service or, if none exists, by going back to buying everything on CD. (The music industry is not going to be able to kill the CD anytime soon.)

    As far as I'm concerned, rulings like this one against Apple mostly serve to enshrine DRM as it's currently being handled, which I fear means that we'll end up stuck with this annoying control-freak DRM model.
  • 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
  • by rootofevil (188401) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:11PM (#17726130) Homepage Journal
    Yes you are. The only place that can put DRM in the songs that will play on the iPod, is iTunes. Other places want to be able to put DRM in their songs, and have them be compatible with the iPod. Apple is essentially locking people into buying from iTunes if they want to buy music from big record labels online. Yes, there are alternatives to buying DRM'ed, but their legality is still not confirmed.

    i fail to see how this should warrant forcing apple to license fairplay or allow the ipod to play wma-drm files. there are plenty of options out there, apple does bully the market. it is certainly not their fault that nobody has come up with a competitive music store and/or player that people want. if they pulled a microsoft and started telling the labels that they can only sell through itunes, that would be a totally different story.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:11PM (#17726134) Homepage
    So how is it possible to buy a tune from the ITMS and play it? If that information isn't openly available and instead requires you to get permission from Apple, I'd say there is a case that Apple is using a dominant position in online music sales to establish dominance in the hardware market.
  • by derEikopf (624124) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:11PM (#17726136)
    I think it's akin to saying: "What if I buy a 10mm screw but I want to use it in a 5mm hole?" At some point, consumers stop being victims and start becoming whiney assholes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:14PM (#17726166)
    And I'd like to add something :

    if you don't like our laws, nothing forces you to sell on our market.

    I'm getting tired of all these whining on "you're jealous of our success" (which is by the way not yours, as American, but apple's), "don't buy it if you don't like it" and so on.

    The beginning argument, "don't buy it if you don't like it" is as stupid as "if you're innocent, you've nothing to hide, so let us search your home".

    In Europe, we make efforts to protect the consumer/citizen. As a consumer, I like this spirit. (However, I agree, sometime, we totally miss it)

  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:18PM (#17726228) Journal
    Doing what you describe is, however you want to play it, illegal, as you are violating a contract you made with Apple when you bought their music:

    9. Purchase of Apple Content

    b. Use of Products. You acknowledge that Products contain security technology that limits your usage of Products to the following Usage Rules, and you agree to use Products in compliance with such Usage Rules.

    Usage Rules

    You agree that you will not attempt to, or encourage or assist any other person to, circumvent or modify any security technology or software that is part of the Service or used to administer the Usage Rules.


    That is clearly a 'no getting around the DRM' clause. Are you suggesting that all users of the iTunes store should commit an illegal act to relieve Apple of the burden of illegally abusing their iPod monopoly?

    The point is - music you buy from iTunes is only playable on either your computer (a limited number, to boot) or an iPod (admittedly unlimited). The European courts look unfavourably on any kind of lock-in, and they want iTunes music to be playable on any device, legally, because you bought it, and Apple are denying you the right as a consumer to use it how you like.

    There is no way you should be forced to spend upwards of 200 dollars to use something you spent 99 cents on.

    It's amazing really - the bulk of these comments are "Why should Apple let you play iTunes music on any other player", when almost exactly the same people have been saying "Microsoft have to give their full Windows API to EVERYONE otherwise it's monopoly abuse". Why shouldn't Apple have to a) give out how they code their DRM to allow others to make DRM music that is compatible, and b) give out their DRM specs so manufacturers can code their MP3 firmware to be able to play iTunes music?

    I love a good bout of hypocrisy.
  • by zootm (850416) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:24PM (#17726310)

    The majority of devices that can play DRM encumbered songs from the ITMS are not iPods.

    There are devices that can play iTunes DRM-coded songs that Apple don't make? Last I heard Apple were suing anyone who tried to get non-iPods to play iTMS music, and iPods to play non-iTMS (DRMed) content?

  • 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.
  • 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 CheshireCatCO (185193) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:28PM (#17726394) Homepage
    Well, to be fair it's more akin to printer ink-cartridges than like screws. I can get the right size screws made by many different companies if I choose, but a lot of companies (replacement mop heads are another example) lock you into using them as a source to load their products. I agree with your sentiment completely (although I won't complain if Apple could drop the DRM entirely), I'm just trying to refine the case a bit.

    Of course, there's a different between iTMS and my printer: if I can't get ink-cartridges, my printer ceases to be useful. If I can't get iTMS songs for my iPod and iTunes, I still have my vast library of already-purchased music *and* I can use that old standby method that has supplied almost all of that music already: buy the damn CD and rip it. So really, Apple is comparatively clean in this behavior. Again, I would love to see them drop the DRM, assuming it's even up to them, but I can't get upset at Apple specifically when so many other companies pull much worse crap in this same vein and aren't ever targeted by politicians.
  • by MartinG (52587) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:30PM (#17726426) Homepage Journal
    That's not a good analogy at all.

    There is a good reason why screws are and drill bits are available in different sizes. Some jobs warrant larger screws (shelves that carry more weight, etc.)

    Typically the user will decide the size required and drill a hole and buy a screw to match. The user _wants_ differing sizes sometimes.

    Now, what is the reason I would _want_ to pay for some music that only works on a subset of playback machines? Or want to pay for a music player that didn't play any of my existing collection?

    The people making screws in different sizes are not deliberately limiting what the user can do with them. It's the nature of them that creates a limit. Conversely, the nature of digital data is that it can easily be copied to other devices. It takes interference from the manufacturer to create artificial limitations. This is where the problems lies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:35PM (#17726524)
    That 99cents is the price I pay for "easy"

    Somewhere, the spirit of P.T. Barnum has a big grin on his face.

  • by threechordme (1041318) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:40PM (#17726584)
    they aren't just targeting apple it said in the article that it would apply to everyone....
  • by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:41PM (#17726614) Homepage
    DRM is in its infancy and it's going to take awhile to get right.

    In which get right means what? To be even more restrictive? Do you see that or you just have a lot of good faith in the companies and lobbies pushing for DRM?

    On the whole I'd rather be here than anywhere else.

    Enjoy it, and pray for the next DRM schemes not to be much worse. Personally, I'd rather have a government which cleans garbage which is bad for the consumers off of the market.
  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:04PM (#17726972) Journal
    circumvent transitive verb
    1 a : to hem in b : to make a circuit around
    2 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem

    Just because Apple haven't asked you to stop, doesn't mean it's not illegal. It's also not illegal because of state/federal/European law regarding personal copies - you agreed to terms and conditions when you bought the music and if you fail to follow them youYou have circumvented copy protection - if you perform the actions you outline, you end up with a close to exact copy of what you had before yet without any copy protection. That seems pretty textbook to me.

    Let's just say for a brief moment that you might be right: if the circumvention is that 'trivial', and it's not illegal, and Apple don't have a problem with it, then why are they taking every measure possible to avoid providing information about their DRM to their rivals? Surely if circumvention is trivial and Apple don't care, where is the issue with providing documentation to rivals for their DRM?
  • 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.
  • by massysett (910130) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:43PM (#17727494) Homepage
    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 to the iPod. If you don't want DRM files, don't buy them. Buy a CD or go to eMusic or Magnatune or any other place that sells DRM free music. The labels whine that they don't have a broad-based DRM system. That's the labels' problem, not Apple. If the labels want a Master DRM System, then they need to partner up with somebody who will offer that. Oh wait, they tried that with MS. Didn't work.

    Or the labels need to forget DRM and start selling DRM free files. It's not Apple's fault that the labels are scared to sell DRM free files.

    The way I see it, the Europeans legislators have been just as bought off as the American legislators. "Open DRM system," pro-consumer? Ha.
  • by Skadet (528657) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:52PM (#17727602) Homepage
    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:Translation: (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @03:17PM (#17727876)
    Please stop saying "market forces at work" as if it was the 2nd principle of thermodynamics or "thou shall not sleep with your mom". It's neither a fundamental principle of the universe, nor a moral and biological keystone without which the species would cease to exist.

    I'm as strong proponent of liberalism as you can get, but even Adam Smith realized that liberalism is not a good in itself, but because it serves the interest of the whole, and that market forces sometimes cannot deal with an absence of competition (i.e. a monopoly). Remember, the key point in liberalism is not market forces, but competition

    Having said that...

    I agree that in that case, Apple should be left alone. Why?
    Not because I kinda like Apple and own a mac, not because I think the whole iPod/iTMS thing is actually consumer software engineering as it should be (reliable, easy, does what you want), not because FairPlay is the least bad of the DRM systems (even though it doesn't run on Linux, and, hey!, it's still DRM cr*p), not because I think Apple is not charging more for iPods than they would in a real market (they are).

    Simply because Apple's superdominant position is the only thing in that market that's keeping the MAFIAA in check. If you were to try to improve the deal in favor of the consumer by forcing Apple to license its DRM, you would put the MAFIAA back in the driving seat, and that would be even worse for the consumer (which those organisations are supposed to defend). As it is, the labels seems to be realizing that the only way to undermine Apple is to sell plain mp3, and if/when that happens, it will solve the whole mess.

    Those guys should really start piling pressure on the labels instead.

     
  • by Matthew Bafford (43849) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @03:34PM (#17728096) Homepage
    Subscription, yes. But NOT subscription in perpetuity to listen. Once you download the mp3's, that's it. Listen now and forever, on whatever device you choose.


    And that part is really good (the fact you keep the music forever). Still, I found the subscription to be tiresome. I don't buy music every month. I tend to buy 5CDs one month, and then none for the next two months. I don't like the fact that eMusic is basically pushing me into the same type of contract I hate having with my cellphone provider.

    If they went back to unlimited downloads for a monthly fee, I might consider it. If they went à la carte, I might consider it. What they have now doesn't fit my needs enough.
  • 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.
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:49PM (#17729936)
    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 one or the other. Because it's going to be awhile, if ever, before you can have both.

    The sound quality of samples sucked.

    The sound quality of samples vary, but usually the samples average 160-256kbps. You then say iTunes quality is better, yet the bitrate is only 128kbps. Don't bother arguing about the AAC vs MP3 thing. I agree AAC is better quality. But if you think 128k AAC is better than 200k MP3 I have a bridge in the East I'd like to sell you.

    One thing that I don't like is the samples are encoded a different bitrate than the songs themselves. But since, overall, the average bitrate for songs is 180-220kbps VBR, I'm not too worried about getting a lousy song after a good preview. Albums encoded at 128kbps are marked on the album page, as well as albums where not all tracks available for download.

    Their purchasing options were limited to three subscription models. Even with free music samples I could not find any compelling reason to use their service.

    Probably because you are not the type of consumer who likes subscription models, you should go to Audiolunchbox instead. You can buy per-track there, although individual credits are sold in packs. But the catalogs are pretty much the same, and a subscription is not required.

  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @06:19PM (#17730308)
    You have never been to Europe, right? Perhaps you watch a lot of Fox News?

    Of course I have been to Europe. And I have never actually watched Fox News except for YouTube clips. But of course, in your mind everyone who disagrees with the utter unquestionable moral superiority and infailability of lily white European socialism must be some stereotypical redneck of your imagination.

    Europe is NOT full of monopolies because the EU actively fights against them (example: Microsoft) and all other kinds of trade barriers within the EU.

    Or rather, Europe fights against foreign monopolies (example: Microsoft). But that isn't progressive, every place is keen to punish foreign competition in order to give advantage to its own companies. But I don't see it fighting against France Telecom, or Lufthansa, or huge media conglomerates like Vivendi. Look at the downright nasty things Airbus has done to force countries into purchasing Airbus planes (like threatening to vote against full E.U. membership to countries who don't purchase Airbus planes... or making disaster relief funds for tsunami stricken countries contingent on purchasing Airbus planes). The E.U. can be outright predatory when it comes to promoting its own interests.

    Of course the E.U. cracked down on Microsoft. They are a visible U.S. company, Europe would like a big piece of that cash pie, and so it promotes E.U. self-interest while scoring cheap points on the anti-American front. Protecting the consumers has nothing to do with it.

    The BBC and many other national public broadcasters are NOT monopolies because there is plenty of competition!

    And Microsoft isn't really a monopoly either. You can choose MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc., etc.. Microsoft was accused of competing "unfairly". Well, if forcing all people who own a TV to pay a licensing fee for a television station they may or may not choose to watch is not unfair competition, I don't know what is. Could you imagine if every computer was forced to purchase a Microsoft license, regardless if you decide to run Microsoft products or not? It would be considered scandalous!

    This happens to be the case in Norway as well - for reasons of protecting our language from the massive English influence on the commercial TV-stations.

    Or rather, behavior that is considered right-wing xenophobia in North America is considered perfectly reasonable in Norway (at least, that is the impression I gather from your statement). If someone would be proposing the same sorts of "language protection" in the U.S., they would be considered more along the lines of David Duke or Jean-Marie Le Pen.

    And as far as Norway is concerned this is about Norwegian consumer protection laws that far better than anything the US has ever seen - they actually protect the consumer! Think democractic socialism where consumers actually have rights.

    U.S. consumer protection laws don't have any bearing on the legitimacy of European consumer protection laws. In both places, the consumer protection laws seem to be designed around giving the power-elites more power - With the power elites in Europe being the government autocrat variety, and the power elites in the U.S. being the big business variety. In both places I am highly skeptical of them actually protecting the consumer.

    The only thing that protects the consumer are consumers. When the government "protects" the consumer, it turns into a rent seeking scheme where companies bribe politicians in order to avoid government crackdown, and those who remain honest and don't bribe politicians are the ones most likely to suffer. If the E.U. was really concerned about protecting its citizens, it would ban DRM outright - That would be a completely political/national/economicly neutral and universal way to make sure the customer would be protected from lock-in.

    Norway is a great friend of the US - and loves America! The population has nothing but great respect for the US.

    Norway isn't a frien
  • Re:What nonsense! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @05:45AM (#17735770)
    Europe would like a big piece of that cash pie,

    The cost of the penalty in anti-trust trials is insignificant compared to the cost of the prosecution - it's not something countries do to make money.
  • by sarathmenon (751376) <srmNO@SPAMsarathmenon.com> on Wednesday January 24, 2007 @06:43AM (#17736096) Homepage Journal
    I equally hate DRM just as much as anyone else here, but the whole argument looks flawed. Customers buy the ipod because they like it, not because any evil government forced it upon them. They buy the songs from the apple store because they find it convenient - not because there is a decree stopping them from visiting allofmp3 and downloading whatever they like.

    Log story short, this drm lock is chosen by the customers because they see a perceived benefit in it. Its just the same as going the windows or the OSX route - they get a locked down system and they use it because they like it better than a open or free system. If any, the governments should be targeting to change the mindset of the people. The boycotts should be called by the actual users. Anything else is against the rules of the open market.

    BTW, the whole issue reminds me of the binary modules in the linux kernel episode.

    For the record I haven't bought a single DRMed file and won't for the rest of my life. But I stand by apple here, they built the ecosystem and they should get to choose the rules by which they operate it. Its the same with Microsoft's monopoly, and I don't see any government asking them to open up the windows source.

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