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Apple ignores Norway's deadline for iTunes DRM talks

updated 09:05 pm EST, Thu November 6, 2008

iTunes Norway conflict

Norway's Consumer Ombudsman has said that he will take Apple before the country's Market Council, as the computer manufacturer failed to provide a sufficient response to request that iTunes be made compatible with other media players than the iPod, according to CNNMoney. The Ombudsman, Bjoern Erik Thon, made a demand for action at the end of September but gave the company until November 3rd to submit comments before a case is heard. "iTunes has shown a lacking will to comply with our demand and we are now preparing to try this case in the Market Council," said Thon.

Apple has reportedly given explanations to customers about methods of circumventing the DRM restrictions, such as burning the tracks to a CD and then converting back to MP3 to be put on other devices. The agency sees the limited action as insufficient and a sign that Apple has no plans to change the iTunes content availability.

The conflict in Europe has been brewing for a few years now, with propositions coming from several countries including France, the UK, and Norway. Steve Jobs tried to explain the company's position early in 2007 by explaining that the company would actually prefer DRM-free music and "would embrace it in a heartbeat."

To remove the DRM from the available tracks, however, would require the big record labels to allow their music to be sold without restrictions. Jobs pointed out the futility of the labels' stance, considering the same companies that require DRM on any content sold on the Internet are also selling it on CDs without protection.

A Norwegian agency had responded to Jobs open DRM letter by putting responsibility back on Apple to spearhead the changes, and claimed that the company was trying to side-step the primary concerns. "[Steve Jobs] also goes on to turn the whole issue on its head by stating iPod owners are not locked into [the] iTunes Music Store - the issue our complaint [addresses] is of course the opposite, iTunes Music Store customers are locked to the iPod," the statement said.

by MacNN Staff




  1. lowededwookie

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm sorry Norway

    But the problem is NOT Apple's. Apple's already made its statement and the statement affects EVERYONE who sells music. Why are they not going after the Windows DRM sites?

    This country is only attacking Apple because Apple is the biggest player therefore this case is onesided.

    Apple is correct in saying the problem lies with the music industry and that most of the industry is actually European therefore these ones are actively flaunting the EU not Apple. Apple is simply doing what it is told, albeit with a bit more leverage than most.

    Go after the real cause not Apple.

  1. JackWebb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Excellent point

    I agree with the above and if I may add, it is not as though other music players are even supporting the non-DRM AAC files that Apple sells anyway. If they don't show an interest in iTunes Store non-DRM, why would we think they would bother if Apple were force to share their DRM. I like the game Apple is playing and that is a future without DRM. Prohibition just sent people underground for poorer quality booze and crime. DRM isn't exactly the same but some parallels can be drawn.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Windows DRM vs Apple

    Windows DRM is licensed on other devices (and can be) so you are not limited. Apple's is only Apple's and if you buy into that infrastructure, you need to stay there (somewhat).

    I first look for music on Itunes Plus...if it is there, I will buy it. If not, I will look for it on Amazon.

    And the fact that the iPod plays "generic" MP3's and other formats does open opportunity's for the user.

    Point is, you know everything when you get into it. There is no small print or gotcha's. You can play on unlimited iPods and up to 5 computers. If you really, really want to, you can burn a CD for a friend and remove the DRM that way. I am not an advocate of sharing music illegally (nor have I heard of a good reason to do so).

    If you wish to share, use Simplify Media. Don't steal

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: I'm sorry Norway

    But the problem is NOT Apple's. Apple's already made its statement and the statement affects EVERYONE who sells music. Why are they not going after the Windows DRM sites?

    Apple's statement is "Music shouldn't have DRM!" That's nice. And woman shouldn't insist on dinner before s**. But, hey, you have to live in the world you have, not the world you wish to have.

    This country is only attacking Apple because Apple is the biggest player therefore this case is onesided.

    Right. You attack the biggest because they're the ones who can put up the best defense, and if you win, you basically carry along everyone else.

    h***, if they went after some small company, people would be railing them about going after the little guy who can't defend himself, rather than the big ones.

    On top of that, who else would they go after? Windows Media DRM is playable on a slew of devices. Maybe they could go after MS and their Zune. But there's probably 6 zunes in Norway. You really want the gov't spending money suing MS over 6 people?

    But here's the big question none of you "How dare you go after Apple!" railers never answer.

    All they want is Apple to license FairPlay to other manufacturers so you could play your iTMS music on other devices. This offers users CHOICE. Exactly what is your problem with this?

    Oh, right, its because it is Apple and everything they do must be good and right and just.

  1. bdmarsh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: choice

    as said in the open letter, if they license FairPlay then closing holes becomes exponentially harder, making the whole thing less viable.

    plus FairPlay is easy for an average user to protect their music, burn it to audio CD, no more DRM.

    Personally I only buy iTunes Plus now, which has no DRM.

  1. neondiet

    Joined: Dec 1969


    He doesn't understand

    iTunes was created by Apple to add value for Apple customers and to supplement and service other Apple product lines (iPod, iPhone and Apple TV). Apple have repeatedly said that iTunes does not make enough money on its own and would not exist without the Apple products that play its content. Apple have chosen NOT to service the wider digital music player market, only their own products. And now this Ombudsman thinks that he can force Apple to change their business model and force them to enter markets they don't want to be in. Ones where they DON'T control the quality of the end-to-end customer experience. That isn't Apple's bag: they've built their entire business model doing exactly that.Frankly, if this goes to court and they give Apple an ultimatum to cease and desist: I think they should just switch off Norway, pull out, and leave this guy to explain himself to all the angry Norwegian iPod owners.No government should be able to force a public company to enter markets it doesn't want to be in.

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