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iPO Reports - Norway Responds to Apple DRM Letter
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 11:10 AM - by
The open letter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs denouncing DRM caught the attention of readers around the world - including those in Norway. Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor from the Norwegian Consumer Council, read the letter, and sees it is a step in the right direction. He commented "We're happy to see Steve Jobs take on the responsibility that follows from Apple's role as one of the leading companies in the digital sphere and comment on the complaint issued by the Norwegian Consumer Council."
The letter, which is openly available on the Apple Inc. Web site, is assumed to be a response to demands from Norway's Consumer Ombudsman to change the licensing at the iTunes Store so that all MP3 players will be compatible with music downloads, and not just the iPod. Apple contends that the copy protection restrictions were imposed by the major recording labels, and that it is bound by those terms.
By claiming that the music labels are requiring digital rights management technology be included in downloaded songs, Apple is saying that it can't change until the labels reverse their stance on copy protection. That may be, but Mr. Waterhouse still sees it as Apple's responsibility to offer products and licensing that comply with Norwegian law. He added "Apple and iTunes Music Store should be addressing the issue of record companies and DRM themselves if it needs to be addressed - and as we've stated earlier it's iTunes Music Store that's providing a service to the consumers and therefore has the responsibility to offer up a consumer friendly product."
That does not lift the blame from recording labels, in this case, Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI, and Mr. Waterhouse feels they need to carry their fair share of the responsibility, too.
One of the complaints that the Norwegian Consumer Council brought to the Consumer Ombudsman was that iPod+iTunes amounts to a locked system, since the FairPlay copy protection in downloaded songs is compatible only with the iPod. Mr. Jobs notes that although he would prefer the removal of copy protection, the system seems to be working well for his company as well as Microsoft and Sony. Consumers are not bound to a single choice for players, and the innovation in the marketplace seems to be strong.
A proprietary system, however, is still proprietary, according to Mr. Waterhouse, whether it comes from Apple, Sony, or Microsoft. He feels that these companies are doing a disservice to consumers by locking them into one player/one music store deals. That philosophy, he said, is unfair to the public, and goes against consumer protection laws in his country.
The big bomb shell Mr. Jobs dropped in his letter is that he feels DRM is ineffective, and that Apple would embrace DRM-free music downloads in a "heartbeat." That notion flies in the face of the record label's stance, but Mr. Waterhouse said it as a healthy step in the right direction.
"If this means that Apple is willing to the kick the lock in technology from the iTMS iPod combination this is really good news - news that should be put into action as soon as possible to bring us all one important step closer to a well functioning digital society."
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