Apple, Norway and DRM

by

ipod

Photo from unrelated engadget.com post

This is more concerned with Open Media than Archaeology, but it should be of interest to those who believe that DRM is a hindrance to all media, regardless of its subject. The sources I’m providing for this are all from The Register, not because their coverage was in any way exclusive or superior to any other, but because their site is laid out in an accessible manner that places everything I want within easy reach.

The story started during the end of January when Norway’s Consumer Ombudsman declared that the digital rights management system employed by Apple for its iPods and iTunes was illegal under Norwegian law. This should have come as little surprise, Europe has never been a big fan of iTunes; France has previously pushed anti-DRM laws through both its parliaments that would make Apple’s DRM illegal, only to have the bills dropped by their Constitutional Council. France and Germany have now joined Norway in a campaign to remove Apple’s lock-in policies.

Not long after these moves began, Steve Jobs declares the unthinkable; he wants music labels to license their music free of DRM to Apple and others, to create a “truly interoperable music marketplace”. He’d go DRM free “in a heartbeat” if the major labels would let him. Considering that DRM has been the main consumer cash cow for Apple over recent years (how many Jobs keynotes have been filled with boasts of iTunes revenues?), this is big news. Songs will still be for sale from iTunes of course, but then I could email them to my friends? Treat them as my own? Or the currently impossible, reformat my PC without having to repurchase all my iTunes music? So, does Steve Jobs really want an interoperable music marketplace? Or is he just trying to save his image in front of growing a European desire to own what we pay for?

The Norwegian response to Jobs was largely unimpressed with his claims; Apple can’t continue to break the law under the excuse that they have problems with their suppliers and that their hands are tied.

Unencumbered digital media? A dream come true. Perhaps we’ll get it someday from Apple’s music service. In the mean time there’s always CDs; they’re only marginally more expensive (and often cheaper) than iTunes, they play anywhere, they’re higher quality, you can touch them, they come with artwork and sleeve notes, and once you’ve paid for one, you own it.

DRM is anti-dissemination and therefore anti-archaeology: Open Media’s what I want.

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