The Norwegian consumer ombudsman has won through in the campaign against consumer hostile solutions in Apple’s iTunes media content download service.
On several key points the prolonged pressure from Norwegian consumer authorities has finally paid off. The campaign has been aimed towards the conditions that the customer has had to accept when signing up for the iTunes downloads service.
Significant changes in these conditions include:
The customer now has the right to compensation in case of service malfunction.
The conditions have been made significantly easier to understand.
The contract between customer and iTunes is now to be subject to Norwegian rather than British law.
Apple, the company behind iTunes, no longer has the right to alter the conditions after the consumer has signed up.
Significantly, Apple has said that the new Norwegian regulations will become the blueprint for the new service conditions to be adapted across Europe. These conditions are nation-specific, but the Norwegian case, which is the first where national consumer authorities have won through, will create precedence.
A still unresolved issue is Apple’s use of DRM (Digital Rights Management), which makes content bought from iTunes incompatible with other digital players than Apple’s own iPod. But also here there is progress being made, as Norwegian consumer authorities see it. Yet this is more due to the imminent establishment of DRM-free alternatives in the European marked, such as Amazon’s service, which will be launched across the continent in 2008, than Norwegian pressure. As has become evident, DRM is a cul-de-sac for the record companies. Rather than safeguarding the income of record companies and artists, the system has proved a perfect excuse and expedient for illegal downloading. And iTunes functioning as a vehicle for this approach is likely to become just as much of a blind alley for Apple as it has been for the record companies.