Feeds

Apple DRM illegal in Norway: Ombudsman

Fairplay not playing fair

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Apple's digital rights management lock on its iPod device and iTunes software is illegal, the Consumer Ombudsman in Norway has ruled. The blow follows the news that Germany and France are joining Norway's action against Apple.

The Norwegian Consumer Council, Forbrukerradet, lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman on behalf of Norwegian consumers claiming that the Fairplay DRM system acted against the interests of consumers. It said the fact the technology stopped songs bought from iTunes being played on any player other than an iPod broke the law in Norway.

The Ombudsman has now agreed, according to Torgeir Waterhouse, senior advisor at the Consumer Council.

"It doesn't get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability," Waterhouse told OUT-LAW.COM. "For all practical purposes this means that iTunes Music Store is trying to kill off one the most important building blocks in a well functioning digital society, interoperability, in order to boost its own profits."

Waterhouse said the Ombudsman has written to Apple to say it believes that Apple's Fairplay system is illegal. "iTunes Music Store must remove its illegal lock-in technology or appear in court," he said. "As of right now we're heading for a big breakthrough that will hopefully pave the way for consumers everywhere to regain control of music they legally purchase."

The Consumer Council believes Apple has only three options: it can license Fairplay to any manufacturer that wants iTunes songs to play on its machines; it can co-develop an open standard with other companies; or it can abandon DRM altogether.

The Ombudsman has also backed the Consumer Council's claim that the DRM technology is not simply a copy protection scheme. The Council had argued that in restricting consumers' use of music so heavily the technology broke contract law in Norway.

"The Ombudsman has confirmed our claim that the DRM must be considered part of the contract terms and not a copy protection scheme only," said Waterhouse. "This means that under the Norwegian Marketing Control Act the DRM must provide balanced and fair rights to the consumer when they purchase music form iTunes Music Store and similar download services."

"Apple is aware of the concerns we've heard from several agencies in Europe and we're looking forward to resolving these issues as quickly as possible," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AP news agency earlier this week. "Apple hopes that European governments will encourage a competitive environment that lets innovation thrive, protects intellectual property and allows consumers to decide which products are successful."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related links

Apple 'unmovable' on iPod lock-in
Apple requests secrecy in bid to keep iTunes legal in Scandinavia
Norway, Sweden, Denmark may fine Apple over iTunes

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.