Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Norway: Apple's FairPlay DRM is illegal

Norway: Apple's FairPlay DRM is illegal: Norway today ruled that Apple's digital rights management technology on its iPod and iTunes store is illegal, following a report earlier this week that both France and Germany have also decided to go after Apple's closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem. According to, the Consumer Ombudsman in Norway has ruled that the closed system is illegal because the songs, encoded with Apple's FairPlay DRM cannot be played on any music device other than an iPod, breaking Norway's laws. (Via MacNN).

The argument(s) for the iPod/iTMS tie-in have been user experience quality and intellectual property protection. These arguments would be more believable if Apple had demonstrated a good-faith effort with competitors and standards bodies to try to create an open or freely licensable decoupling between devices and media delivery and protection protocols. It might be that such decoupling is not feasible given the conflicting requirements of parties. But we won't know without a honest design and experimentation effort. Apple had the resources and public good will to lead this effort when the iPod took off in a positive-som direction. They didn't, and now they'll be have to be fighting defensively rather than driving the agenda.

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