EU Takes Aim at Apple

Rich Tate

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It now looks as though the EU is miffed at Apple’s bundling of iTunes with each iPod.

European Union consumer chief Meglena Kuneva has hit out at Apple Inc.'s bundling of its popular iPod music players and its iTunes online music store, according to German weekly magazine Focus.
 

GJSNeptune

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Jesus christ, EU. Find something else to do. No better than the RIAA at this point.
 

djellison

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As a European, and thus as someone whos taxes are going to do this stuff - I'm getting so pi**ed off with the EU doing this sort of crap. It's all nonsense. It's pathetic, pointless overpaid lawyers and beaurocrats wasting my money - and because of the hyperconvoluted autocratic nature of the EU, there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

I hate politicans.
 

wombar

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Yep I agree with djellison. This is just getting stupid now, these companies sell good products (regardless of what you think of the company themselves) and the EU is just giving them one more reason to hike up the prices.
 

djellison

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What's especially annoying is that Apples EU pricing is actually very competative given the usual £=$ conversion. If you want to go anti-competative hunting, go after Sony and their PS3 pricing, or the entire telescope industry. Going after Apple for including iTunes is like going after BMW for including tyres. Pathetic.Pointless.

Doug
 

SamuraiInBlack

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Would the EU get a hint if some of these companies they go after decide to no longer have a European market? Or would that just backfire?
 

kush

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To push the car analogy a bit further, how about like when they force you to get a multi thousand dollar "package" to get things as a sunroof, leather, or a decent stereo (I always go custom there tho)? Hey BMW is bundling Alpine CD head units (nav systems? Twas Alpine @ some point wasn't it?) with their cars, f*ckin' sue them? The EU is damned ricockulous, it's real purpose seems to be much like the US Constitution. Give the "normal" people (read anything under quite wealthy) an air of entitlement (you know, my country, my gov't, my taxdollars), when in reality it does nothing more than keep the rich rich (and make them more so).

What gets me is the proprietary nature of both the DRM formats (and kinda breaks an analogy to M$ problems with the EU on Windows & IE/WMP), and container that the Apple Store/Itunes force you into.. You can't just use M$ software, or any open-source let's say that you may find on SF.net, and expect to either buy, or play Itunes tracks w/ your Ipod. I image the best you'd be able to do is MP3s like you would with any 'standard' player.

If only these stupid companies would take a clue from people like AllofMP3. Whatever your view of the company, they do their customers right. DRM-FREE audio, at reasonable prices..Your choice of formats, from low 128k -> top 320k MP3, WMA, OGG, etc, even uncompressed CDDA WAV audio. If the Russian RIAA doesn't want to take their royalty payments, that's their problem. Note: never ordered online tunes, let alone from AOMP3, but I like their business model - a lot better than the like of Itunes.

Of course, I forsee the EU would still be suing the majors like Apple, even without DRM. Can't dare make people use Itunes software on an Itunes player, please add the 5 million other media databasing softwares because evidently the public is too goddamned lazy to google, oh say "Itunes alternative", much like "WMP alternative".
 

ianken

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Well, the European market is huge for folks like Apple and Microsoft. Just because the EU is trying to extort money from them doesn't mean they will abandon it.

At this point doing business in the EU is like doing business in Russia: you just need to pay the fines/bribes, it's part of the package.

EU citizens need to ask: where does the money go? You are taxed up the wazoo to fund the EU and the EU rakes in hundreds of millions in fines levied against foreign companies. What are you getting for it all? Does it bring software prices down? Did any of you run out and buy XP without the media player?
 

anr11

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I would also damn well like to know what this money is funding. In the case of Germany, this year we got a 3% sales tax hike making total sales tax now 19%, increased health care and insurance premiums, and our retirement age was just raised from 65 to 67! This place is going to hell in a handbasket and everyone is just standing around watching. We really need to start taking to the streets over this stuff. It's not enough the EU is leaching every money source it can find, now our local government is leaching off us too! It's sickening.
 

djellison

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Does it bring software prices down? Did any of you run out and buy XP without the media player?

Have you seen the price of Vista? It's done the opposite. Frankly, Microsoft have done the right thing in pricing Vista high in the EU - if it was possible, I'd like any governmental organistation in the EU to have to pay $1000 per licence for Vista, and then the public to pay $10 per licence. I wonder how many anti-trust cases they'd try and push then?

Did any of you run out and buy XP without the media player?

No (infact in the process of buying a load of Xp licences for work, at no point did I see such a version available) - and in the name of all that is holy why would you, and why would anyone care if WMP was included or not. It doesn't bloody matter. That's the crux of all this - the issues raised just don't matter.

Doug
 

Gorankar

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I in no way condone the proprietary nature of the itunes service, it should be a much more open system allowing people to play the music they bought on any player they choose.. (Without having to hack)........................

But, I am forced to wonder if the EU really cares about that.. Or if it is more concerned with the fact that a US company is making big money in the EU... And they want their cut without pissing off their own constituents, and lobbies.. It is how I saw the MS debacle..
If a French or German company was doing the same thing, would it come to this?? Somehow, I don't think it would...
 
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This never ends. I cant believe there are people who actually support these psychos. The EU has to be stopped at some point.

They NEVER go after the real problem, they always find some braindead scheme to steal money from foreign competition. This is 100% proof of that (which isnt new by a long shot, theyve already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are complete hypocrites). DRM is the problem here, yet they would never go after the european record labels forcing the DRM in the first place.

Never for the consumer, always for themselves.
 
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Also anyone who thinks that EU lawsuits somehow magically benifet them need to understand that the money the EU is stealing from the european divisions of these companies has to come from somewhere. You have to pay for these lawsuits with taxes and you also have to pay for these lawsuits with inflated prices. The companies are going to have to get the money back somehow since their profits are seperate from other countries, unfortunately the consumer has to take the hit while the politicians in the EU keep getting richer (are they really politicians? I bet all of them were previously lawyers).
 

Nemesis999

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I think the real problem with iTunes is that they're using it to prevent any form of real competition. They get the player out there and they package it with tons of iTunes stuff to get people downloading from their website. Then they use DRM to block the average person from rightfully playing their music with any other player, essentially forcing you to continue to purchase Apple products if you want to keep your hundreds of dollars of iTunes music. See the problem?

The real problem here is that Apple refuses to license their DRM because it would allow competition on the market. More then anything they should be pushing Apple to license out their DRM software. Until they do that they're simply exploiting their monopoly to prevent competition.
 

djellison

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prevent any form of real competition..

Why does iPod+iTunes prevent anyone else providing a similar product and service? It's not anti-competative. You know going in that one goes with the other and you're tied in. That's why I don't have an iPod. Want an altenative, get a Zune and whatever music store MS does - or get a Creative Zen and go buy CD's.

There is nothing anticompetative about it.

Doug
 
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I think the real problem with iTunes is that they're using it to prevent any form of real competition. They get the player out there and they package it with tons of iTunes stuff to get people downloading from their website. Then they use DRM to block the average person from rightfully playing their music with any other player, essentially forcing you to continue to purchase Apple products if you want to keep your hundreds of dollars of iTunes music. See the problem?

The real problem here is that Apple refuses to license their DRM because it would allow competition on the market. More then anything they should be pushing Apple to license out their DRM software. Until they do that they're simply exploiting their monopoly to prevent competition.

And this is why Steve Jobs is trying to abolish DRM as a whole? Making DRM work with other devices still doesnt solve the real problem with DRM itself, there will always be issues. This is just the EU's way to steal more money without tackling the real problem, if they did get rid of the real problem then they wouldnt beable to steal from it anymore.
 

jstnomega

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EFF the EU. They are irrelevant.

I say that as someone who does not now & never will own an ipod.
 

Nemesis999

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And this is why Steve Jobs is trying to abolish DRM as a whole? Making DRM work with other devices still doesnt solve the real problem with DRM itself, there will always be issues. This is just the EU's way to steal more money without tackling the real problem, if they did get rid of the real problem then they wouldnt beable to steal from it anymore.

Jobs anti-DRM speach came right after people started pointing out the anti-competitive nature of iTunes. It was nothing more then typical Jobs misdirection. He did the same thing with the iPhone, they announced it without the right to do so to take attention off the stock backdating.

Why does iPod+iTunes prevent anyone else providing a similar product and service? It's not anti-competative. You know going in that one goes with the other and you're tied in. That's why I don't have an iPod. Want an altenative, get a Zune and whatever music store MS does - or get a Creative Zen and go buy CD's.

There is nothing anticompetative about it.

Doug

Sure, you could pick another service. What's anti-competitive is that once you have iTunes you can't switch. Once you have your $200 in iTunes music you have a choice of buying another Apple music player, or spending $200 to re-buy all the music you legimately purchased in the first place. Apple is using DRM to prevent people from switching players. Essentially they're using their monopoly to prevent people from switching by imposing a large penalty of leaving iTunes.

Yes, you're right. They COULD have picked up a different service in the first place, but the fact still remains that you shouldn't have to PAY possibly hundreds of dollars extra to change services when you have no contract.


As for all the bad car analogies (sp?), First of all, there is no automotive monopoly, so they're all invalid in the first place. Second of all, you can resell your tires, or seat covers, or anything else that come with the car if you want.
 

drizzt81

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Jesus christ, EU. Find something else to do. No better than the RIAA at this point.
I did not know that the RIAA looked after the interest of consumers and competitors. I guess I must have been reading the press releases of the past 8 years incorrectly.

I hate politicans.
I agree.

On topic: I find it interesting that 1/2 of the OS forum complains about DRM, yet a lot of people suddenly are upset when an entity does something against it. I am not clear what people want: DRM or no DRM?
 

Gorankar

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We want DRM to go away, but I for one don't want the EUeewwww to get a damn cent out of it..
This is a situation where whatever happens the DRM will still be there in some form, but the politicians get to fine yet another corporation millions or billions.. Nothing gets fixed, but money changes hands..
Lets just take words like drm or monopoly out of the conversation, because fattening coffers is all this is really about.. IMHO
 
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Apple doesn't have the same cashflow as MS . If the EU hands out a large fine Jobs might just stick it to them ,he has a lot more pride riding on this , in this case it might not be a bad thing.
 

novagamer192

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Hilariously Apple doesn't bundle any software with the ipods now, they have a note in the box that says where to download itunes and whatnot. You could just download a 3rd party app or whatever and never touch itunes if that was your choice. I don't know if that's the case in the EU but AFAIK it was the plan to change all ipod packaging worldwide.
 

NightRaven

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How many of you read the (short) article? Whatever it is, I think Reuters did not communicate clearly in the title. The objective here was made quite obvious:

"Do you think it's fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don't. Something has to change,"

'Norway, a European country that is not in the EU, is battling Apple for the same reason. In January, it said the computer and software giant must liberalize its music download system by October 1 or face legal action.'

I don't know about you, but I think these are the right reasons, not the wrong reasons, to push Apple to action.
 

NightRaven

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Ah, left out one thing. Note that it says the bundling of the iTunes Music Store and the iPod, not the iTunes software.
 

Nemesis999

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Hilariously Apple doesn't bundle any software with the ipods now, they have a note in the box that says where to download itunes and whatnot. You could just download a 3rd party app or whatever and never touch itunes if that was your choice. I don't know if that's the case in the EU but AFAIK it was the plan to change all ipod packaging worldwide.

This is about the iTunes music store, not the software.

On a side note, Apple also charges $1.30 for songs in the UK and at the same time blocks them from buying from the U.S. site. I'm sure they're not happy about that either.
 

qdemn7

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MSNBC has the real answer:
.... both reflect Europe's deep anxiety about its lack of clout in the digital world. Aside from Skype (now owned by eBay), it's tough to think of a truly disruptive digital company that's emerged from Europe. Instead the French and German governments have poured millions of euros of taxpayer money into a Google copycat called Quaero, a project that embarrasses some European techies, who'd rather see more support for entrepreneurs. On Feb. 13 a Belgian court levied a $33,000-per-day fine against Google for displaying copyrighted materials in its search results. "I think this case is all about European politics," says Mark Mulligan of Jupiter/Kagan Research in London. With $9.6 billion in revenue from digital entertainment in 2006, Apple may simply be too fat a target to ignore.
Cliff's Notes: It's e-penis envy. The EU has a smaller e-penis than the US.
 

anr11

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Um. Ouch? What's the Tax Free day in Yuro? December 3rd?

No such thing as a Tax Free Day here. Most of our politicians would probably die of a heart attack at the mere mention of such blasphemy!
 

Gorankar

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How many of you read the (short) article? Whatever it is, I think Reuters did not communicate clearly in the title. The objective here was made quite obvious:

"Do you think it's fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don't. Something has to change,"

'Norway, a European country that is not in the EU, is battling Apple for the same reason. In January, it said the computer and software giant must liberalize its music download system by October 1 or face legal action.'

I don't know about you, but I think these are the right reasons, not the wrong reasons, to push Apple to action.


I agree, if that is what happens, BUT, what is going to actually come from it?? A large fine for Apple and them licensing their drm to 3rd parties, at a prohibitively high cost?? The appearance of capitulating to the wants of the consumers??
IMHO this is a shell game and money grab, with the consumers footing the bill .. Business as usual for the EU governing body and corporations... But, perhaps Norway will actually try for some proper ending to this..
I guess only time will show us the truth of this matter.. I remain, as always, cynical..
 

impar

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Greetings!
Sure, you could pick another service. What's anti-competitive is that once you have iTunes you can't switch. Once you have your $200 in iTunes music you have a choice of buying another Apple music player, or spending $200 to re-buy all the music you legimately purchased in the first place. Apple is using DRM to prevent people from switching players. Essentially they're using their monopoly to prevent people from switching by imposing a large penalty of leaving iTunes.
Exactly!
How many of you read the (short) article? Whatever it is, I think Reuters did not communicate clearly in the title. The objective here was made quite obvious:
"Do you think it's fine that a CD plays in all CD players but that an iTunes song only plays in an iPod? I don't. Something has to change,"
'Norway, a European country that is not in the EU, is battling Apple for the same reason. In January, it said the computer and software giant must liberalize its music download system by October 1 or face legal action.'
I don't know about you, but I think these are the right reasons, not the wrong reasons, to push Apple to action.
They are the right reasons!
To add to those above, there is also this one:
Kuneva also said that the industry needs competitive pricing and uniform sales contracts, in addition to a "cooling-off" period during which consumers could "return" downloaded music.

How can anyone be against these intiatives?
The ability to play a legit bought song in other music player, not only in the iPod?
The ability to return a product during a cooling-off period?

And EC has not fined Apple. Yet.
 

Tabs

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This is really insane if you ask me - you do have a choice, you can buy whatever portable music player you want. It isn't anti-competitive for a company that makes a player to also offer a program to purchase and load music onto it. It's like saying a car dealership is anti-competitive because they also have a repair shop there on-site. I have no clue where this notion got started that companies must do one thing and one thing only or else they're anti-competitive. If the EU were to say, ban iTunes, all they'd be doing is granting a true government sanctioned monopoly to other music download services. I bet they'd love that too as they wouldn't actually have to compete in the market.

The fact that a lot of people choose under their own free will and volition to use and enjoy iTunes doesn't make it anti-competitive. I know that I'm not able to play iTunes songs on any other player (actually that's false anyway, you can legally burn to CD and rerip into whatever the heck format/player you want) but I have no desire to do that since I like my iPod and like the integration between iTunes and it. If the government started forcing me to use services (in any industry) that I don't like just because they feel the best one is making too much money, that'd pretty much be grounds for revolt if you ask me...
 

impar

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Greetings!
This is really insane if you ask me - you do have a choice, you can buy whatever portable music player you want. It isn't anti-competitive for a company that makes a player to also offer a program to purchase and load music onto it.
That part is not anti-competitive.
The part that is anti-competitive is once you have spent your cash on a song, bought from company A online store, you can only listen to it in the player of company A.
 

Ockie

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Hehe, I must admit this is funny.

The EU taking aim at Apple for their Itunes service because it's anti-competitive and won't let anyone else into their ring.... kinda ironic as the EU is a union that wont allow other countries into their ring unless if they can be heavily in favor to them.... sorta like.. umm Apple!

Gotta love hypocrite politicians.
 

Martyr

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Greetings!Exactly!
They are the right reasons!
To add to those above, there is also this one:
Kuneva also said that the industry needs competitive pricing and uniform sales contracts, in addition to a "cooling-off" period during which consumers could "return" downloaded music.

How can anyone be against these intiatives?
The ability to play a legit bought song in other music player, not only in the iPod?
The ability to return a product during a cooling-off period?

And EC has not fined Apple. Yet.

no one questions the explanition given. the problem is no one expects these measures to be put in place. what is expected isa fine to the ue, and maybe some sort of extra tax on apple goodies, which goes directly back to the eu, meaning the consumer just paid for a lawsuit to get old fat rich guys older fatter and richer.
 

djellison

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The part that is anti-competitive is once you have spent your cash on a song, bought from company A online store, you can only listen to it in the player of company A.

That is not anticompetative. I know that if I buy songs on iTunes, I can only play them in iTunes or on an iPod ( or burn a CD and then re-rip it ). I KNOW that. Every consumer KNOWS that. They don't hide it. They don't lie about it. It's what the record companies have demanded happens.

If you don't want to be tied in to that player and that platform - DON'T BUY IT! Is that too hard? Is that anti-competative? Nonsense!

And anyway - who in their right mind would buy any music from an online store when you can go and get a totally DRM free CD which you can rip and put on anything as often as you like.

The real bogieman here is the record industry demanding useage-right breaching DRM on the music we can buy online.

Doug
 
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Greetings!That part is not anti-competitive.
The part that is anti-competitive is once you have spent your cash on a song, bought from company A online store, you can only listen to it in the player of company A.

So is it anti-competitive that I cannot play XBox360 games in a PS3? Even if the game is on both systems?
 

Nemesis999

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So is it anti-competitive that I cannot play XBox360 games in a PS3? Even if the game is on both systems?

I don't think the people that keep putting forth these bad analogies are quite getting the point. NONE of those situations involve a monopoly. If some random company wrote and OS and put the price tag at $10,000 per license that would be fine. If Microsoft tried to charge $10,000 per copy they wouldn't be allowed because there are laws in place to protect the consumers from abuse of MONOPOLIES. There is no automotive monopoly. There is no electronic game monopoly. Not ONLY are there 3 different major consoles, there are several handhelds and computer games. They all compete in this market. Now if you look back when the Nintendo was the only console game, and assume that computer games didn't exist, and that Super Nintendo was backwards compatible with Nintendo games, and N64 games with Super Nintendo games, then you might have a comparison. Though the PS succeeded partially because of the easy of piracy, it still likely would not have gone far if ever N64 buyer got to keep their 40-50 games they may have already owned. If PS had never emerged the XBox likely wouldn't have been made as Nintendo would still be seen as an untouchable behemoth and there would be no competition to drive prices down and technology forward.

The repair shop analogy doesn't even make sense. If I were to spend $10,000 on repairs for a car, and I went to buy a new car from a different company, do I have to pay that $10,000 again just to use my new car at the level I used my old one? No.

I find it hilarious that the same people that complain about the RIAA and DRM are the ones arguing for DRM here. The POINT of DRM is to control the market and exploit their monopoly. This is esentially an attack on DRM by the EU.
 
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