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Norway challenges Apple\'s iTunes ToS

updated 05:10 pm EDT, Tue June 6, 2006

Norway, iTunes ToS

A consumer advocate group has won a preliminary ruling that may force Apple to change its iTunes terms of service (ToS) in Norway. Earlier this year, the Consumer Council of Norway lodged a complaint with the Consumer Ombudsman, a government representative, over iTunes Music Store in Norway. Alleging breach of fundamental consumer rights, the group argued that Apple terms of service were in violation of Section 9a of the country's Marketing Control Act and also said that iTunes' digital right management violated consumer protection laws. A decision, however, was not yet made with regards to iTunes' DRM and a few other issues. The group, however, claimed victory on several points and said that the ruling would also apply to other digital music services, perhaps signaling a movement toward greater consumer rights.

"This is a great victory for the digital rights of Norwegian consumers," the group said. The decision clearly states that the terms of agreement demanded by iTunes are unreasonable with respect to the country's consumer protection laws.

The group argued that Apple must be held liable for security holes and other bugs that could be exploited by hackers or computer viruses.

"Consumers are barred from lodging compensation claims if iTunes' software creates security holes that can be exploited by computer viruses," a group representative said. "This is a very real issue, which was most recently highlighted by the case of Sony BMG's latest DRM, XCP," referencing the recent security hole introduced by Sony on some copy-protected CDs.

Specifically, users can not be forced to give consent to be governed by English Law when running iTunes software in Norway and Apple cannot disclaim responsibility for any damage caused by its software. In addition, the decision also found said that Apple could not alter the terms of service at anytime, a disclaimer the company includes in its standard terms of service before running iTunes software.

The group said that iTunes must now alter their terms and conditions to comply with Norwegian law by the 21st of June.

"We are very satisfied with the decision. There is a general tendency for consumers to meet grossly unreasonable agreements when they download files with cultural content. It is therefore positive that the Ombudsman gets a grip on this so that consumer interests are also protected when such material is downloaded," senior advisor Torgeir Waterhouse says.

A ruling, however, was not made on several important issues that were raised by the group in its initial complaint. Waiting on a response from Apple, the Ombudsman, a local judge of sorts, has not ruled whether Apple must include a "cooling-off" period when purchasing from iTunes and whether Apple's geographic limitations are reasonable under the country's laws. Currently, Apple says that all sales are final.

The group is also pushing for a ruling on iTunes' DRM, which has faced a backlash in other European countries such as France. Earlier this year the country pushed for a law that would force Apple to open up its iTunes FairPlay DRM to competitors, a move that industry analysts say would likely result in Apple closing its French iTunes Music Store.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. dawho9

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Questions...

    OK, so I really have two questions.

    1. The EULA in iTunes is more or less pretty similar to other EULA from MS Products, Adobe, etc. Has similar issues been brought up with those?

    2. In regards to the DRM. Is the real reason why everyone continues to try to force open the DRM is because they only have the iPod to play the music on? Would a similar issue exist if MS had the same marketshare on a similar store and only Rio had the ability to play the songs? I have seen a lot of the DRM pleas/demands to open the format, but if they don't like the format - why not just choose one of the many other options that exist?

    dw9

  1. Ganesha

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Good Bye...

    The group argued that Apple must be held liable for security holes and other bugs that could be exploited by hackers or computer viruses.

    If that's the case, why hasn't MS been sued into oblivion in Norway?

  1. chadpengar

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    not so bad

    The bit about changing the EULA at any time is a good thing and I would hope that that spreads.

    I dont think we have to worry about a Sont like thing with Fairplay as it works much differently. It doesn't load SW that messes around at a low level to prevent your CD drive from working, for example.

    I am not sure I understand the "cooling off" and why sales cannot be final. With non-tangible goods they have to be final or else you get too much return-fraud.

  1. Raymond X

    Joined:

    0

    Regarding the DRM

    I'm amazed at the naivete of these discussions on interoperabiity of DRM. If I buy a transmission for a BMW and it doesn't work in a Ford, does that give me the right to sue BMW?? Should we attack Apple because OS X won't work on Dell computers? Or Nokia because their software won't work on Motorola phones? etc.

  1. henk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    norway

    Documents I receive in .doc and .xls format forced me to buy MS office. Since DVD, most my VCR tapes are worthless. I cannot play Xbox games on my gamecube or PS2, yet I can order all three kinds on the internet. I think the Norwegians be better off getting rid of MS and high petrol prices instead...

  1. bigpoppa206

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    More lawyers

    will be hired, language will be re-written and this will go away.

  1. boomer0127

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    I don't get it...

    If the DRM is forcibly removed, then Apple will likely pull out of the market because the music industry will 1) not let them share the DRM scheme and 2) will not let them ship songs without DRM. If Apple leaves the market, then either 1) Everyone flocks to Creative/M$, who will then have the same DRM problem 2) Everyone buys CD's like crazy or 3) P2P networks will run even more crazy rampant to pick up the slack.

    Why can't the record companies sell their music online with no DRM but make it cheap enough (say .10 a song, $1 and album) such that people will be willing to spend the money instead of take the risk on the quality and illeagality of P2P?

    I would guess that by slashing prices 10-fold, the record companies would make much more money than they are now. And drop CD prices while they're at it, too!

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: regarding DRM

    I'm amazed at the naivete of these discussions on interoperabiity of DRM. If I buy a transmission for a BMW and it doesn't work in a Ford, does that give me the right to sue BMW?? Should we attack Apple because OS X won't work on Dell computers? Or Nokia because their software won't work on Motorola phones? etc.

    I'm amazed at the naivete of the apple-defenders who, because its apple, don't care what the issue is, they'll defend apple.

    So DRM is the greatest thing since sliced bread, the way you all talk. Yet you people also don't wait one second to complain that other music services don't work on a mac, or complaining about software with activation (Windows, Office, other non-MS apps), or when some new CD comes out with DRM that prevents ripping.

    But, no, this is Apple, so its lawyers and users who are stupid and don't know what they're talking about.

  1. Torgeir

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Yeah, please wake up!

    "But, no, this is Apple, so its lawyers and users who are stupid and don't know what they're talking about." -louzer

    You're so right, so right! I am an Apple lover, but really, please speak out in a more objective manner!

  1. macnavi

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Just burn

    It's not to defend Apple, because I think many attacks on Microsoft are unreasonable too. If a company is making something and you buy it, then you have to agree with their terms. Otherwise, don't buy it. You can always buy a CD if you don't agree with the terms of iTunes. But you can burn the DRM files on a CD, import them again so they are without DRM (does the terms say you can't? I don't know). I don't like laywers sueing companies that make this world more interesting by creating things. If MS bundels Explorer, just install another browser, you don't have to sue MS for doing so. It's just part of their idea how to make a "great" (that's in their opinion!) OS. Don't install Windows if you don't like it. Use something else. You can sue Apple too for integrating .Mac so much in their system that iWeb fx doesn't upload directly to other FTP servers, only .Mac. But Apple made something that makes it easy for everyone to create websites. They could have choosen to make nothing, then we would have nothing at all.

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