updated 12:20 pm EDT, Mon April 2, 2007
Norway applauds Apple, EMI
Following EMI's announcement today that it will launch new high quality DRM-free downloads via Apple's iTunes Store, senior advisor Torgeir Waterhouse of the Norwegian Consumer Council immediately came forward to applaud the move. "It's with great interest [that] I've listened to the webcast from EMI & Apple today," Waterhouse told MacNN. "No matter how the digital music market develops, today will always stand out a very important date, the day when two of the really big market players finally took responsibility that follows from the position and made an interoperable solution available to consumers." The advisor told MacNN in early February that Italy had officially joined other European countries to apply pressure to Apple and the iTunes store to open up its musical tracks, enabling consumers the freedom of choice to choose their own medium for playing iTunes tracks. "I applaud [EMI and Apple's] move, and encourage all the other contenders in the digital music business to make the same important move."
Waterhouse also asked the other music labels to follow suit, encouraging them to offer DRM-free music for the sake of consumers.
"I especially call on the three other mayors to [seize] the moment and show that [they are] able to take on the responsibility as some of the most important distributors of culture and offer music without DRM or DRM that offers the consumers 100 percent interoperability," Waterhouse said.
The senior advisor also asked the movie industry to take heed of EMI's important step, as well as any company in other cultural sectors that are slowly entering the download service market.
"If they want the respect and business of [the] consumer they also need to offer up a fair deal which among other elements includes true interoperability [with] the complete absence of lock-in technology."
Waterhouse says it's encouraging to see EMI and Apple take this important first step, but notes that Apple is still refusing to let the Ombudsman release its reply regarding what actions it plans to take to make sure iTunes complies with Norwegian law. The official stresses that one of the key factors to achieve a well functioning information society is for the debate and steps toward it to be open to the public -- the very same public that is the basis for a successful transition toward the digital information society.
The official also warned that Apple is still required to abide by Norway's deadline in September, which the country enacted to ensure iTunes is legally operating within that country in the name of fairness on behalf of consumers.
"It's important to note that this move does not take the heat off iTunes for the end of September deadline. By the end of September [Apple] needs to alter the terms of service and DRM used in the iTunes Music Store to provide a fair deal to the consumers who legally buy music," Waterhouse said. "Still, this move by EMI and Apple today should serve as proof that it really is possible to fix the problems the industry has chosen to introduce with DRM."
"I really hope that all relevant market players now show the determination that we've seen today by EMI and Apple and that today marks the beginning of a new era -- an era where the entertainment industry works with the customer and not against them. As of today we might very well be back on track for a future in a well functioning information society with a focus on access to content and interoperability instead of negative consequences of the DRM implantation's we're seeing today."
"Today both EMI and Apple have proven that they're willing and able to start their part of the job -- they really deserve a round of applause for the important step they've taken today. We're now calling on all other relevant market players and governments to be equally responsible and solution oriented and take the similar and first important steps themselves."