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Norway Outlaws iTunes 930

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the run-out-of-town dept.
haddieman notes that while many people are getting more and more annoyed at DRM, Norway actually did something about it. The PC World article explains: "Good intentions, questionable execution. European legislators have been giving DRM considerable attention for a while, but Norway has actually gone so far as to declare that Apple's iTunes store is illegal under Norwegian law. The crux of the issue is that the Fairplay DRM that is at the heart of the iTunes/iPod universe doesn't work with anything else, meaning that if you want access to the cast iTunes library, you have to buy an iPod."
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Norway Outlaws iTunes

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  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:39PM (#17762628)

    Now, when are they going to outlaw all the other DRM-infested music stores? If "Fairplay" is unfair, then so is "PlaysForSure!"

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flawedgeek (833708) <karldnorman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:44PM (#17762680)
      The difference between fairplay and playsforsure is that fairplay *only* supports ipod, playsforsure is compatible with all sorts of hardware. I get the impression that Norway doesn't have a problem with the DRM itself, it's because it forces you to use specific hardware.
      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Monsuco (998964) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:51PM (#17762762) Homepage
        The difference between fairplay and playsforsure is that fairplay *only* supports ipod, playsforsure is compatible with all sorts of hardware. I get the impression that Norway doesn't have a problem with the DRM itself, it's because it forces you to use specific hardware.
        I think this is sorta right, however I think it more or less falls along the lines of apple dominates the MP3 player market and is using that to force out competition in the online music market.
        • So does that mean that Zune and Sony's Atrak and WMA are also banned? All of those only play on one brand of machine or operating system.

          Well what about software that only runs on one operating system? After Ipods can run other operating system sso it's not the ipod that is doing the lock-in it's the operating system on the ipod.

          By that reasoning all windows software is windows only and must be banned.
          • Incorrect (Score:5, Funny)

            by Ahnteis (746045) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:27AM (#17764928)
            WMA can be licensed for all kinds of devices, and I suspect that Sony would be overjoyed to license the file format.

            Zune--probably, but the 3 people who own one haven't made much of a fuss yet.
          • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday January 26, 2007 @02:12AM (#17765256)
            Every windowsOS device that runs quicktime plays apple fairplay drm. for example an OQO is a pocket itunes playing device. What do they mean fairlplay only plays on ipods. Conversely you don't have to buy fairplay music to play it on your ipod. You can buy or load MP3s.

            So I don't get it. You can play itunes/fairplay on tonnes of devices not made by apple. and you don't have to buy itunes software.

            Moreover here's a hypothetical. Suppose the itunes software had two buttons on it. One button was marked "load my ipod with some music I bought at the itunes store" and the other button was marked "load my non-apple music player with some music I bought at the itunes music store".

            Would that satisfy the norweigans? well itunes already has those features, just the buttons are marked differently. The second button is marked "convert my itunes music to something my non-apple player can play".

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Look, to clarify: it's not the iPod that has been found illegal, but the iTunes Store. In the eyes of the Norwegians, it sells in a form of DRM that is restricted to only one portable music player manufacturer. WMA-based stores have either been too small to notice or have gotten away with Microsoft arguing (to paraphrase): "Well, Apple is free to license DRM-enabled WMA from us at any time." Apparently they didn't accept like France did that it could easily be circumvented through burning to a CD and recomp
            • by 7Prime (871679) on Friday January 26, 2007 @05:00AM (#17766022) Homepage Journal

              AAC has nothing to do with FairPlay, Apple, or anything else, for that matter. AAC is a completely open format that was meant to replace the MP3 (and should, but old habits die hard), Apple didn't want to use Vorbis because it requires a lot more battery power to encode... and people already bitch about battery life. FairPlay could theoretically be inserted into any number of file formats, it's just that Apple only uses AACs for music transfer.

              So, again, neither of the As in AAC stands for Apple, it's an MP4 compression container file, that Apple bought in to... and most of the other companies are too busy with WMA and MP3 that they haven't bought into it yet. It's like saying that HD-DVD is a Microsoft format... no, it's a Toshiba format, in which Microsoft now uses.

          • by zootm (850416) on Friday January 26, 2007 @06:01AM (#17766306)

            So does that mean that Zune and Sony's Atrak and WMA are also banned?

            Zune hasn't been released outside of the US, but it seems pretty definite that it'd be affected by the same rule. ATRAC is an encoding format, not a DRM system; the difference being that it's not designed to stop other people reading it, it's just not used by other people. Also, ATRAC is implemented by other manufacturers; Sony did not say "no, you may not licence or use this because we want to be the only ones to use it".

            Well what about software that only runs on one operating system? After Ipods can run other operating system sso it's not the ipod that is doing the lock-in it's the operating system on the ipod.

            It's not the iPod which is in trouble, it's the store, and its policy of only being compatible with iPods (and the converse; iPods only playing music from one DRMed store). This is an artificial constraint, the only reason other companies can't run iTMS music on their players or provide DRMed music that plays on an iPod is that Apple won't let them. By contrast, operating systems only run one type of executable because executables are complicated and can be implemented in a variety of ways. It's not like there's anything stopping people writing software which allows someone to run programs from another operating system [wikipedia.org], or licencing things which cause compatibility problems [wikipedia.org] from their makers. By contrast, Apple have repeatedly sued those who have created systems allowing interoperability with iPods and iTMS.

            By that reasoning all windows software is windows only and must be banned.

            I'm afraid not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        So what? It's still DRM, so it's still just as restrictive!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kalriath (849904)
          They don't give a rats arse about how restrictive it is - they care that it removes the user's ability to choose to use a non-Apple device instead of an iPod. Microsoft does not do the same with ProbablyPlaysForSureButDontQuoteUsOnThat - that is supported on quite a wide number of platforms (and Microsoft will happily allow you to integrate it in your own device if you are a manufacturer, Apple outright refuses to).
      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

        by ePhil_One (634771) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:53PM (#17762786) Journal
        it's because it forces you to use specific hardware.

        You can use the Nano, the Shuffle, the Mini, the Photo, the Video, etc. And not just Apple iPod's, but Hp iPod's too. Not to mention bot PC's and Mac's, which Plays4Sure can't. What is specific about that?

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:04PM (#17762924) Homepage
        playsforsure is compatible with all sorts of hardware.
        Except the Zune.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)

        The difference between fairplay and playsforsure is that fairplay *only* supports ipod, playsforsure is compatible with all sorts of hardware.

        not true at all. Playsforsure is only compatible with one kind of hardware - playforsure compatible hardware.

      • by grimJester (890090) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:55AM (#17764650)
        I'm just watching BBC World, where a guy called Torgeir Waterhouse from the Norwegian Consumer Council talks about this. When asked about competitors like Microsoft and the Zune, he said they are all illegal under Norwegian law. They only went after iTunes first because it's largest.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:41PM (#17762656) Homepage
    haddieman notes that while many people are getting more and more annoyed at DRM, Norway actually did something about it.

    It sounds like they've decided it's either Norway or the Highway.
    • while many people are getting more and more annoyed at DRM, Norway actually did something about it

      By "many people," you mean Slashdotters and blog writers who think their obsessive DRM concerns have any presence outside their little media bubble. Regular consumers don't give a hoot, and most rip their CDs into MP3s in iTunes.

      Why should Apple be forced to provide service to competitors? Should HD-DVDs be forced to play in Blu-ray players? Should Sony be forced to allow its PS2 games to play on the Ninten

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:43PM (#17762672)
    Bah! If I want to play Wii games, I have to buy a Wii. Outlaw the Wii.

    • by Encrypto (1054956) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:06PM (#17762940)
      There's a solid technical reason why Wii games only run on a Wii. Technical incompatibility of DRM-locked music, however, is a purely artificially imposed barrier to interoperability. It's gratuitous incompatibility.

      Imagine that every car manufacturer operated a chain of gas stations. All cars could run on the same fuel, but every brand of car had a bizarrely shaped fuel intake that would only accept the corresponding bizarrely shaped nozzle. You could only fill up a Toyota at a Toyota gas station, a Ford and a Ford station, etc.

      Further, if you dared to try to create adapter for universal fueling, you'd be thrown in jail and fined tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for violating the laws the big car companies paid politicians all around the world to pass, to protect there little lock-in schemes.

      You could either go along with such BS, and happily sing the tune the car companies want you to sing ("If you don't like it, you can don't have to buy a car! No one's forcing you! Just by a bicycle and shut up already!"), or you could cheer along the efforts to end protected for deliberately imposed incompatibility and improve things for consumers instead.
      • by AusIV (950840) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:25PM (#17763130)
        The argument could be made that if Nintendo would just license the right specifications, other companies could build consoles that play Wii games. My computer for instance would probably be capable of emulating the Wii architecture, but if someone created and distributed a Wii emulator, they would certainly get a DMCA takedown notice, and likely face a law suit. While I don't feel your argument of Wii games only running on Wiis is completely valid, I agree with the rest of your analogy.

        The thing that irritates me the most about DRM is that it's illegal to circumvent. I have no problem with companies choosing to use DRM, and I have no problem with companies pursuing pirates in court. But when the DRM limits legitimate uses of the media and customers are stripping the DRM solely so they can use it on another platform, I have a problem with legal action being taken against them. Granted, if the DMCA didn't protect DRM there would be commercial investments dedicated to fighting DRM and it wouldn't last long at all, but I still don't feel consumers ought to have to worry about using their media the way they want to.

  • Oblig (Score:3, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:43PM (#17762674) Homepage
    If iTunes is illegal, only criminals with have iTunes.
  • by dogbrt (913020) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:45PM (#17762696)
    Kenya Kenya Kenyaaaaa....
  • by Skidge (316075) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:56PM (#17762826) Homepage
    Here's what Steve has to say [blogspot.com] about it:

    Okay, Norway. You want to play hardball? Saddle up the reindeer, strap some body armor over your queer-ass Dale sweaters, wrap your pretentious scarf tight around your chicken neck, and meet us on the field of battle.
    ;)
  • Heads exploding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:57PM (#17762836)
    Gaaa!

    Norway == socialists == doubleplus good

    DRM == doubleplus ungood

    iTunes == Apple == doubleplus good

    Norway outlaws iTunes? What is a good gay socialist Mac user going to do? What is the right side to be on?

    Ok, trolling is fun and all, but seriously.

    I think it's a load. People have the right to be stupid. Without that as Right 0 no other "Right" can be read as anything other than "You have the Right to ____ unless we, the anointed elite, think decide your exercise of it is dumb." It's why the 1st Amendment is safe so long as -both- Noam Chomsky and StormFront were free to rant and rave but didn't survive John McCain & Russ Feingold.

    I'd never buy from the iTunes store because I think the deal offered is one sided, shortsighted and stupid. But I'll defend Steve's Right to try to sell it and your Right to freely enter into a license agreement with him.
  • by Albanach (527650) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:04PM (#17762928) Homepage
    It's not so much that you need an iPod to enjoy your itunes purchases, but that you are locked into future hardware purchases from Apple

    If you buy many albums from the iTunes sture you can enjoy them and all is rosy. Then two years later the battery on your iPod has died, so you look at what's available. You think there are some nice offerings from creative or sandisk but, trouble is, you can't listen to any of your existing purchases. Your locked to Apple.

    It's well boyond time that other players were allowed to license Fairplay, and that other music providers be allowed to sell Fairplay encoded tracks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mblase (200735)
      It's not so much that you need an iPod to enjoy your itunes purchases, but that you are locked into future hardware purchases from Apple

      Unless you listen to them on your computer instead. PC or Mac, iTunes supports them both.

      Or... here's a concept... burn them to an audio CD and enjoy them on your portable CD player! Wow, who knew!

      In fact, with any of a number of wireless-to-stereo devices, you can beam iTunes FairPlay music directly to your stereo, no hard media required.

      So there you go--three completely
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:05PM (#17762934)
    How long before windows vista's SUPER DRM is banded?
    • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:35AM (#17765014)
      Vista's "SUPER DRM" doesn't lock you into any particular hardware. That DRM is required for HD-DVD and BR playback, but any HD-DVD and BR player as well as OSX Leopard also implement that same DRM and can therefore play those discs. So there's no hardware lockin, unlike with iTMS DRM'ed songs, which only play on Apple's hardware as far as portable players are concerned.

      (If you widen your view beyond portable players, then iTMS isn't *that* locked in since iTMS songs do play on regular Macs and Windows computers via the iTunes app).
  • by AutumnLeaf (50333) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:06PM (#17762958)
    What I found interesting about this article is that it seems to advocate one choice is better than no choice, and implies Norway is harming its citizens and consumers by depriving them of a monopoly.

    This tends to be the self serving argument monopolists use when justifying their actions. "By enhancing the user experience by bundling a product the user experience is enhanced. Depriving them of our monopolistic business model harms them."

    In my view, choice is never bad. Competition is good. Apple won their market share by out-innovating the rest of the pack. But history is full of examples of the stagnation occurs once a market is consolidated. So I think other players should be allowed to work with iTunes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dangitman (862676)
      One choice? There are plenty of choices - buy a CD, buy from a Playsforsure online store. Buy from eMusic. Buy a guitar. How is Apple stopping anyone from making these choices? They can hardly be considered a monopoly, because they don't have any power over other companies to stop them from competing.

      This is different to the situation with Microsoft, where if computer manufacturers did not ship all their machines with Windows, they would be punished, and Microsoft held the keys to these companies' business

  • by JonasH (183422) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:49PM (#17763388) Homepage
    This headline (and the one at PC World) is quite misleading. Norway has not outlawed ITMS. It has simply been found that ITMS is not following the law in Norway. This means that ITMS has always been illegal. You can blame Apple for not checking the law in the market they were entering (or checking, but deciding that the law doesn't apply to them).

    Consumer protection laws can sometimes be a big pill for corporations to swallow, but if Norway is anything like Denmark, which is quite likely, they usually end up having to follow the rules, rather than getting the rules changed to suit them.
  • Next on the block... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sethstorm (512897) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:51PM (#17763412) Homepage
    It'd be a longshot, but maybe they could extend that to their practices regarding OS X and their hardware? Repackaging it in a desired format with spare parts gets you in trouble these days if you sell it, much less the hardware binding. They'd not need to ban OS X, just remove the restrictions on interoperability and hardware use.

    Of course, fanboi's will come far and wide to dispute this- but not all of us like their products in "Ivory Tower" white as a majority, in non-ATX forms, or even the architecture they bless. I'll take a clone or a custom built machine, and run whatever, however - economics be damned.

    Hopefully at least the iTMS ban holds up and works.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:16PM (#17763662) Homepage Journal
    What's good for the goose? Let's make it illegal to have closed Siemens and Nokia phones so that any phone will work with each carriers network. Seems reasonable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grimJester (890090)
      It probably is illegal in Norway already. It used to be in Finland, but the law was recently (as in a few months ago) changed to allow bundling of service and phone. People seem to think they get cheaper phones, when in fact they pay it off (and substantially more) in monthly fees.
    • by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Friday January 26, 2007 @01:24AM (#17764912)
      Well, Norway isn't in the EU.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nordicfrost (118437)
        But Norway is in the European Economic Area. That means we have to adapt to EU regulations. In fact, Norway is one of the countries in Europ most adapted to EU regulations and laws. more than 90% of our laws have been adapted to fit inside the EU framework.
  • by eiscir (968749) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:58PM (#17764118)
    What really happened is that the consumer ombudsman stated that FairPlay was, in his opinion, illegal. The ombudsman is not a court, nor a judge, nor a legislature. The easiest comparison to make is that he's like an attorney general, but rather than advise the govt, he advises consumers, and acts on their behalf, subjectively. The most he can do is recommend a prosecution to the director of prosecutions, but his opinion is not, repeat not law. TFA is stupid and badly researched.
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:09AM (#17765814)
    According to the above posts, Norway is pissed that iTMS's DRM locks you into Apple hardware, and is therefore illegal (nevermind that iTMS songs do play on any Mac and Windows computer via the iTunes app).

    But what about video game consoles? If one wants to play "Gears of War", one is locked into Microsoft's Xbox 360 hardware. Same for any console wrt games exclusive to that console. Is Norway going to outlaw video game consoles as well?
  • by liza_84 (1056062) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:46AM (#17766858)
    http://www.forbrukerombudet.no/index.gan?id=110370 79&subid=0 [forbrukerombudet.no]

    its a must read for everyone! it explains everything :)
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:38AM (#17767354) Homepage
    This discussion is interesting, because it illustrates the difference between two different groups of /. users, who are usually allied.

    First, there is the freedom crowd. They of course cheer on Norway, as this decision will increase competition between music stores and makers of portable music players, by cutting the tie between the dominating player in both groups.

    Second, there is the cool technology crowd. They hate the decision, because Apple is "the good master", providing us with all kind of cool technology. And come up with all kind of objections, that really only make sense to a true believer.

    The Good Master meme is well integrated in our culture, think about how many fairy tales are about the good king versus the bad king, rather than about the peasants maybe being able to do without a king in the first place. The Apple worship (and the Microsoft demonising) draw directly on that archetype.

    Usually the crowds are aligned, because Microsoft is usually the dominating player, systematically abusing their desktop monopoly in order to expand into other areas. They have been convicted for that many times. And at the same time their technology, while not a sucky as it used to be, is still very boring.

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