iTunes under continuous attack in Europe
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More consumer protection organizations from across Europe have initiated
complaints against Apple in order to obtain a more friendly end user license
agreement (EULA) for iTunes.
The consumer protectionists are concerned about the interoperability of
purchased music, contractual terms and liability rules. They consider that
iTunes should renegotiate its contracts with the music industry that would
allow customers to play the music they buy, on the devices they choose, by
downloading music from the Internet without DRM systems. They ask from the
sellers to exclude from their EULAs clauses that stipulate that the
agreement provisions may be altered unilaterally without the consumer’s
consent and to eliminate the technical restrictions.
Following a complaint from Forbrukerradet, the Norwegian Consumer Council
against Fairplay DRM system, the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjørn Erik
Thon has ruled that iTunes violates Norway’s consumer law and has set a
deadline for Apple to change its iTunes conditions by 1 October 2007. “If we
form a united front, we will have a stronger hand in negotiations and give
iTunes the support it needs to negotiate better terms with music labels,”
said the Ombudsman.
The Norwegian Consumer Council considers that Apple could license Fairplay
to any manufacturer that wants iTunes songs to play on its equipment,
co-develop an open standard with other companies or abandon DRM entirely.
Taking the example of his Norwegian colleague, the Dutch Consumer Ombudsman
also filed a complaint with the Dutch anti-trust agency as well as with the
new Dutch Consumer Authority (ConsumentenAutoriteit) that will enforce the
European directives on consumer protection. He said that Apple did not
advise the buyers that iTunes software only ran on iPods, which, in his
opinion, was “misleading”.
As previously reported by EDRI-gram, after its success in court with
Sony, the French Consumer Association UFC Que Choisir has initiated a
similar procedure against Apple for its services iPod and iTunes. The German
Association of Consumer Protectionists has also raised concerns about the
Apple iTunes service.
Apple has stated lately that it is aware of these issues and willing to
solve them as rapidly as possible and that some negotiations have been
carried out with some individual organizations.
“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” has been Apple
spokesman Tom Neumayr’s recent statement to AP news agency.
European consumer protection organizations join forces against iTunes
Dutch consumer chief puts Apple through the mill (25.01.2007)
Apple ups the stakes with convergence play (29.01.2007)
Apple DRM illegal in Norway: Ombudsman (24.01.2007)
EDRI-gram: Sony loses DRM case in France (17.01.2007)