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Illegal FairPlay in Norway

FairPlay, the copy protection system for songs sold by iTunes, in Norway must be considered against the law. The Ombudsman, the Ombudsman of Norwegian consumers, sanctioned it.

The turning point, reported by the online magazine specializing in legal matters 'Outlaw.com', culminates in a dispute that began a few months ago on the initiative of the Forbrukerradet of the Norwegian consumer association. The document presented to the Ombudsman highlighted how the iTunes protection mechanism that binds the songs purchased on the store to a single player works against the interest of consumers.

'There is nothing clearer,' says Torgeir Whaterhouse, senior adviser to the Forbrukerradet, to Outlaw.com. 'Fair Play aimed at binding customers to an all-inclusive service, blocking interoperability. In this sense, Apple's DRM tries to stifle the foundations of a digital society, interoperability, to increase profits. ' The Norwegian rules stipulate that when entering into a contract, as in the case of the purchase of digital music, you must have rights as well as duties, which is actually prohibited by iTunes Drm, at least according to the Forbrukerradet. The Ombudsman thus embraced the association's thesis according to which FairPlay is part of the contract and not a simple protection scheme and as such must respect the rules of equity.

At the moment, says Whaterhouse, Apple would face three choices: to license FairPlay, to create an open standard or to abandon DRM altogether. In reality, a fourth hypothesis must not be excluded, namely the abandonment of the Norwegian market. This solution may not be conclusive because next to the Nordic country consumer association are also those of Sweden, Denmark and Finland and since yesterday also those of Germany and France. If the thesis of FairPlay's illegality for Apple were to pass even in these countries, it would be impossible, except to consider the possibility of a collapse of the iTunes Store system, to withdraw from all these markets.

It is perhaps for this reason that at the moment Cupertino takes time, declaring himself willing, on the initiative of one of his spokesmen Toim Neumayr, to dialogue and resolve the issue with a confrontation while at the same time expressing the hope that the European government authorities will favor an environment of competition that allows innovation to thrive, protect intellectual property and allow consumers to decide which products are successful. ' Even the Norwegian Ombudsman, at the end of the first and so far only direct confrontation between Apple and the Nordic authority, had also expressed confidence in the possibility of a mediated agreement.