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Netherlands joins Norway, pursues Apple

updated 04:05 pm EST, Thu January 25, 2007

Netherlands pursues Apple

The Netherlands has joined Norway, Sweden, and Finland alongside France and Germany in an effort to hold Apple accountable for locking customers into using its portable media players and iTunes software when purchasing audio tracks via its iTunes Music Store. The Dutch Consumer Ombudsman lodged complaints with the Dutch anti-trust agency as well as ConsumentenAutoriteit -- the newly formed Dutch Consumer Authority -- which will act as the enforcer of 15 European consumer protection directives, according to The Register. The Scandinavian-led effort charges that Apple's iTunes violates Norway's consumer law, and that the company must change its policy by September 30th or face legal ramifications.

Apple issued a statement earlier this week saying that the Cupertino-based company is aware of the concerns from several European agencies, but that it is looking forward to resolving the issues as quickly as possible.

Apple developed and implemented its own form of digital rights management (DRM) that it calls "FairPlay" to protect songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store to prevent piracy, alleviating some of the fears voiced by major record labels prior to the widespread availability of digital music online.

The protection scheme, which limits users' ability to play back tracks to Apple's own iPod players and its iTunes media software, drew widespread criticism in France last year when the country drafted a law that would have forced Apple to open its closed standard to competitors. The French law eventually passed after several revisions, and has yet to bear any serious consequences for Apple.

France's recently passed DRM law struck fear into the hearts of Apple lovers and investors alike as it progressed through various stages in both French houses. Rumors and speculation that Apple would close its France iTunes Music Store for good and withdraw from the country rather than opening up its closed standard to competitors coupled with the possibility that any outcome in the French courts could set a standard overseas. Visions of a domino affect likely clouded the minds of industry analysts trying to predict Apple's financial future, but those fears were cast aside when the French law was declared unconstitutional and again revised with more lenient measures.

The iPod-maker currently lays claim to about 50 percent of the Dutch internet download market, but is drawing increased fire from governments and agencies overseas for its closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem. Dutch Consumentenbond spokesman Ewald van Kouwen said his group has filed a formal complaint with the Dutch antitrust watchdog NMa, requesting an investigation into what he called "illegal practices" by the iTunes Music Store, according to the Associated Press.

"What we want from Apple is that they remove the limitations that prevent you from playing a song you download from iTunes on any player other than an iPod," said van Kouwen. "When you buy a music CD it doesn't play only on players made by Panasonic. People who download a song from iTunes shouldn't be bound to an iPod for the rest of their lives."

Apple said in its statement Monday that it hopes "European governments will encourage a competitive environment that lets innovation thrive," leaving out details about how it intends to handle the rising tide of criticism in Europe.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    I love Apple...

    ... but side with these countries. It's in nobody's interest but Apple's to mandate using an iPod for music downloaded from iTMS.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    So buy CDs instead...

    ...you get better quality sound, no DRM & a physical backup in case of disaster - as far as I know no one is forcing the Dutch to buy from ITMS - it is a choice, perhaps based on convenience but still a choice...

    That being said countries can legislate pretty much what they want - slavery was legal for quite a time in many countries & murder is still routinely legalized with a declaration of war...

  1. Sebastien

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    let the rabbid fanboys...

    ..loose

    After all, Apple can do no wrong, right?

  1. legacyb4

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    agreed

    people are making a choice to buy from iTunes Music Store. They could easily buy, borrow, rent, or steal CDs and import that music into iTunes and be done with it.

    On the other hand, is anyone forcing Microsoft to make Media Player (or whatever they use these days to sync music to their licensed hardware players) to support iPods?

  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    learn to use computers

    Just because Apple markets iPod + iTunes doesn't mean you need to buy an iPod to use iTunes or need iTunes music to use an iPod. For most people who own iPods, most of their music is not from iTunes. I don't have an iPod but I would have no trouble burning iTunes songs to a CD and playing them on any CD player or burning them to MP3s. I think the iPod is a waste of money, and if you feel the same, don't buy an iPod. It is just the same as stealing music from an artist because you don't like how much they charge. These are market economies - no one is forcing you to buy an iPod and no one is forcing you to use iTunes and you can very easily use on or the other without the other one. Learn how to use a computer people. I know some people in Europe can use a computer - their are a lot of open source programmers there.

  1. Sebastien

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: agreed

    "On the other hand, is anyone forcing Microsoft to make Media Player (or whatever they use these days to sync music to their licensed hardware players) to support iPods?"

    No, because it's Apple that won't other music stores support the iPod - Real tried and got sued by Apple. Another point for the countries going after Apple about this.

  1. Sebastien

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: agreed

    "won't let other music stores"

  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    not that hard

    "No, because it's Apple that won't other music stores support the iPod - Real tried and got sued by Apple. Another point for the countries going after Apple about this."

    What is so sacred about iTunes + iPod. If you want to buy music from iTunes and use it with a Zune, just burn your iTunes collection to a CD and then rip mp3s off it. Does Zune not support MP3s - that is not Apple's fault. If you are unable to click a couple of buttons to convert your music, I think you would find the Zune or even the iPod to hard to use. If you are missing both hands, you can use the built in screen reader in OS X to talk to your computer and you can still convert your music fine. Using an iPod or Zune might be a challenge though, without hands.

  1. I.P. Freely

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    at Sebastien

    "let the rabbid fanboys... ..loose

    After all, Apple can do no wrong, right?"

    What a f****** stupid statement!

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Protect the Experience

    If Apple decided to license Fairplay the price of those "cheaper" players would go up. And when those players don't work right with iTunes because they aren't using the standards Apple set forth, will Apple have to hear the complaints? They are doing this because they do not want to have to support other players. These other players would have to change to support the DRM and Apple shouldn't be forced to write a DRM for all of those players. Because regardless they have to have a DRM of some sort in place.

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