Daily question: No lutefisk for iTunes in Norway?

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Norway’s top consumer advocate said Monday he is taking Apple Inc. to the government’s Market Council in a test case seeking to force the American company to open its iTunes music store to digital players other than its own iPod.

“We discussed this at a meeting two weeks ago, and decided that Norway will do the test case,” Consumer Ombudsman Bjoern Erik Thon said by telephone. “This could have international consequences.”

So many questions come to mind. Just the Top 10:

  1. Should a government tell its citizens what store they should get their music from?
  2. Are Norwegians unable or unwilling to burn a CD to transfer their music anywhere else DRM free?
  3. Norway recognizes copyright, DRM can be used to protect copyright and it’s legal to strip DRM. Should Apple bundle iStripper with iTunes?
  4. Has Norway compelled music labels to provide DRM-free content to Apple so it can sell them?
  5. Why is Norway so interested in making DRM cross-platform instead of illegal?
  6. Will Norwegian taxpayers pay Apple the financial burden of breaking its licensing agreements with the labels that compel Apple to sell DRM-laden music?
  7. If iTunes is shut off in Norway will Norwegian citizens be better off?
  8. Has Norway asked gamebox manufacturers to implement mandatory cross-platform licensing among consoles like XBox 360 and PS3?
  9. Has Norway also asked Microsoft –– whose PlaysForSure DRM won’t play on Zune, but Zune DRM (which Microsoft won’t license to anybody else) will on PlaysForSure hardware –– to eliminate or license its DRM?
  10. So what if FairPlay-protected songs only play on iPods?

But perhaps the most important question in this instance is:

Has anyone asked the Norwegian consumers if this is what they really want?

11 thoughts on “Daily question: No lutefisk for iTunes in Norway?

  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving for 10 blunders Apple didn’t commit « counternotions

  2. As a Norwegian comsumer I can answer your last question. Yes, this is what we want! DRM-free music from .. everywhere!

    1. Should a government tell its citizens what store they should get their music from?
    No, and they don’t. But they do look after our rights.

    2. Are Norwegians unable or unwilling to burn a CD to transfer their music anywhere else DRM free?
    No, but I don’t have any free CD and I don’t think I should need to buy one to get total access to music I’ve already paid for.

    3. Norway recognizes copyright, DRM can be used to protect copyright and it’s legal to strip DRM. Should Apple bundle iStripper with iTunes?
    Yes, but only as an option when installing iTunes.

    4. Has Norway compelled music labels to provide DRM-free content to Apple so it can sell them?
    When you complain you go the person that sold you whatever you bought. When there is a problem with your graphic card from NVIDIA you complain to the store you bought it from and then they can complain with the creator

    5. Why is Norway so interested in making DRM cross-platform instead of illegal?
    Can’t seem to have read anything about that. We just don’t like DRM up here to the north.

    6. Will Norwegian taxpayers pay Apple the financial burden of breaking its licensing agreements with the labels that compel Apple to sell DRM-laden music?
    Apple should make a deal with the record companies so that Apple could sell DRM-free music.

    7. If iTunes is shut off in Norway will Norwegian citizens be better off?
    No, we won’t. But now other countries are with us and I don’t think Apple would like to loose several countries.

    8. Has Norway asked gamebox manufacturers to implement mandatory cross-platform licensing among consoles like XBox 360 and PS3?
    That’s a difference. When you buy a game for a XBox 360 everybody will understand that it is not playable on a PS3. But when you buy from iTunes Store you expect that you actually buy music, and as we know music can be played on several devices.

    9. Has Norway also asked Microsoft –– whose PlaysForSure DRM won’t play on Zune, but Zune DRM (which Microsoft won’t license to anybody else) will on PlaysForSure hardware –– to eliminate or license its DRM?
    First you set the example, then you make the rest follow. Standard.

    10. So what if FairPlay-protected songs only play on iPods?
    What about all of us that doesn’t use an iPod? I use my cell phone as a media player, and friends of mine use Creative, Sony, etc. But they have one thing in common, iTunes is their preferred media player.

  3. It looks like Microsoft is really putting the pressure on people here with the OOXML.

    But the Music envy is coming from Nokia since Microsoft doesn’t sell music here but Nokia does

  4. Trausti: “I live in Norway.”

    I don’t want to sound conspiratorial but yesterday,

    “Standards Norway, the organization that manages technical standards for the Scandinavian country, took a serious blow last week when key members resigned in protest over procedural irregularities in the approval process for Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format. The 23-person technical committee has lost 13 of its members.”

    Here’s an account of how pressure and campaigning from Microsoft likely resulted in this sad state of affairs. Something peculiar is going on in Norway? :-)

  5. I live in Norway.

    This is just too weird, I hope the guy gets fired. What about all the Microsoft music that does not play on iPod ? What about Microsoft music that is not sold in Norway ? hmmm, perhaps they should tell MS to sell in Norway as well ?

    I would probably own a different player than iPod if all the others weren’t so bad. They don’t remember where you were last time in an audiobook or podcast. That does it for me. What is the problem of making a mp3 player better than iPod ? Should be easy since you know what you are aiming for but many many years later, still has not happened.

    Btw, I think it is either Nokia or Sony Ericsson that is doing the push a long with the mobile phone companies. They are huge here. Sony Ericsson has not sold as many phones world wide as they have sold here, and they make great phones, but lousy mp3 players, and nokia is actially much worse.

  6. “1)…It has every right to go after companies that utilize business practices that are (probably) illegal”

    If it’s “illegal” as you accuse of me not getting straight, why doesn’t the government simply sue Apple? Why bother with councils and “test cases,” etc?

    “3)DRM does jack shit to protect copyright.”

    So then why would the Norwegian government be trying to enforce Apple to LICENSE its DRM cross-platform rather than eliminate it altogether?

    “4)…The way the law is written, the responsibility lies with the retailer, not the distributor”

    So if Apple is not in a position to break its existing licenses, it’ll be forced to abandon Norway (since as you argue above cross-licensing DRM is useless). How does that help Norwegians?

    “5)Got me
    6)See 4″

    In other words, you’d like to skip all the thorny commercial and legal issues.

    “7) Probably not.”

    So why are you arguing for the government?

    “8)Eh? WTF has that got to do with anything?”

    Content wrapped in a DRM that’s not cross-platform in each case.

    “9)Not as far as i know.”

    Could that be because of Microsoft’s purchase of FAST and its continued search operation in Norway?

    “10)Consumer lock-in”

    You don’t need to buy your content from iTunes to play on iPods and if you’re technically inclined enough to be able to burn a CD (as you argue Norwegians are) then you don’t need an iPod to play iTunes songs either.

    When did the government of Norway ever sue Microsoft for example for its decades long lock-in that was shown to be illegal in US and EU courts?

    Are Norwegians plain inconsistent or just anti-Apple?

    “Disclosure: …I am norwegian…”

    That was hard to guess. :-)

  7. 1) No, a national government has no business telling consumers which stores to use. It has every right to go after companies that utilize business practices that are (probably) illegal in the respective country. Get your facts straight.
    2)Norway has very many quite tech-savvy inhabitants. This is beside the point (that such mechanisms should be unnecessary) by a long shot.
    3)DRM does jack shit to protect copyright. All DRM does is inconvenience paying customers. Pirates simply crack/bypass the DRM (the recent Sopre debacle is a prime example of this)
    4)Why would Norway’s government do that? The way the law is written, the responsibility lies with the retailer, not the distributor
    5)Got me
    6)See 4
    7) Probably not. The attention DRM is getting in the media will hopefully educate the non-tech-savvy norwegians as to the evil DRM is
    8)Eh? WTF has that got to do with anything?
    9)Not as far as i know. one high profile case at a time maybe?
    10)Consumer lock-in is very strongly frowned upon in Norway (the strong frown is also backed up by laws)

    Disclosure: IANAL. I am norwegian though…

  8. I doubt Norwegian consumers have been contacted. They can already rip their entire CD collection into iTunes, as well as all the MP3 and unprotected AAC flying around the web. Is there any player that cannot play either format?

    Let’s say the Market Council ordered Apple to feed DRM-protected content from iTunes to a Zune or third-party WMA player. Would this not require Microsoft to give Apple its DRM code, so iTunes could recode the content into Zune or PlaysForSure?

  9. You know exactly what Apple’s reaction if Norway asks this will be right?

    Apple will pack up it’s toys and leave Norway.

  10. Norway is not a member of EU, so I doubt it will have implications on any country outside Norway. I even doubt it will have implications in Norway. If Mr Thorn wanted to pick iTunes as a case to demonstrate his powers, he could have picked a better one – MSFT, for example. It’s just bizarre. Why doesn’t he battle the record and movie industry? I would guess he is very alone in this struggle…

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