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EU begins talks over iPod dominance

Written by Dave Horvath @ 12 Mar 2007 6:47 User comments (8)

EU begins talks over iPod dominance Earlier today, members of the European Commission began talks with Apple over their huge market share dominance of the mp3 market through their iTunes service. While EU states they have no immediate plans to force Apple into opening up its iTunes services, they did have some rather interesting things to say about the company.
Earlier today, E.U. Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva unleashed on Apple's DRM policies in saying, "Do you think it's okay that you can play a CD in any CD player, but an iTunes song only on an iPod? I don't. This sort of thing has to change."

The Commission has stated that it has sat down with officials from Apple and they will consult on the issues of iTunes over the next couple of months. Any resolution isn't expected to come in the form of a proposal until such time has expired.

Online music services such as iTunes and smaller rival Sony's Connect are already under scrutiny from a new online copyright bill currently being reviewed in France and being considered by Norway and Denmark. The bill states that it would require an online music retailer to make songs acquired from its service to be made interoperable on many different devices, not just the device sold by the same company of the service.

Head of Apple, Steve Jobs stated that it was not the fault of Apple for not conforming with interoperability, but the pressure from the big four in the music industry. Jobs was quoted in saying, "Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free."

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8 user comments

112.3.2007 7:54

Head of Apple, Steve Jobs stated that it was not the fault of Apple for not conforming with interoperability, but the pressure from the big four in the music industry. Jobs was quoted in saying, "Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free."

DRM protected stuff can still be played in MOST of the CD players!
Just whines because their losing a monopoly!

212.3.2007 10:01

its the RIAA and MPAA that are to blame for DRM.
just take a look at the Blu-ray for instance!

Originally posted by "":

High-Tech TV
By David H. Holtzman

The DVD War Against Consumers

Makers of new DVD players are going too far in copyright protection efforts, but buyers needn't take it lying down

Having grown tired of one war, we're on the eve of another, complete with alliances, secret codes, and laser beams. No, not Iran -- it's the fight over the next generation of DVD devices. The real battle isn't between Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) and their chosen formats, it's between the manufacturers and us -- the consumers, the ones who ultimately pay for it all. And the battle is over Digital Rights Management (DRM), because in addition to increased storage, these new disks are packed full of copy-protection functions, some of which impair our ability to use the content we pay for, the way we like and are legally entitled to.

Sony is championing a standard called Blu-ray, Microsoft is pushing HD-DVD. Both formats have plenty of corporate backers. The upcoming PlayStation 3 will support Blu-ray, the Xbox 360 will get an add-on drive that uses HD-DVD.

Both standards incorporate sophisticated DRM technology. The current crop of DVDs uses a copy protection scheme that encrypts the disk, but that scheme was broken several years ago and the hack was widely incorporated in innumerable freeware DVD decryption programs. The movie studios have vowed not to let that happen to them again.

BORDER PATROL. But all software-based copy-protection schemes can be broken. The only way a DRM can really work is to control all of the hardware the video data flow through, including the monitor. The problem is that at some point an unencrypted video signal is sent to a display device. It can be split off before it gets there or videotaped once it's on the screen.

The AACS (Advanced Access Content System) standard supported by both the Sony and Microsoft camps addresses this problem. The standard calls for scaling down HD content to a low resolution if the player isn't hooked up to an HDCP-compliant connection. HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is a DRM system invented by Intel (INTC) that attempts to control video and audio as it flows out of a player and onto a display. In other words, if the player is connected to a monitor without the right cables, the quality of the image will be deliberately degraded.

Blu-ray, however, goes beyond the AACS, incorporating two other protection mechanisms: The ROM Mark is a cryptographic element overlaid on a "legitimate" disk. If the player doesn't detect the mark, then it won't play the disc. This will supposedly deal with video-camera-in-the-theatre copies.

STRANGLEHOLD ON CONTENT. Even more extreme is a scheme called BD+ that deals with the problem of what to do when someone cracks the encryption scheme. The players can automatically download new crypto if the old one is broken. But there's an ominous feature buried in this so-called protection mechanism: If a particular brand of player is cryptographically "compromised," the studio can remotely disable all of the affected players. In other words, if some hacker halfway across the globe cracks Sony's software, Sony can shut down my DVD player across the Net.

The Blu-ray's DRM scheme is simply anti-consumer. The standard reflects what the studios really want, which is no copying of their material at all, for any reason. They're clearly willing to take active and unpleasant measures to enforce this. Last year's Sony/BMG rootkit fiasco comes to mind (see BW Online, 11/29/05, "Sony BMG's Costly Silence"). The possibility that they would disable thousands of DVD players, not because they're hacked but just because they might be vulnerable, would have been unthinkable a few years ago; it's clearly an option today.

What do consumers really want? We want high-quality video and sound, of course. These days we also want interoperability. When we buy content, we expect to play it on every gadget that we own. The newest video servers require content to be copied to the hard drives, so that they can stream video throughout the house. Soon, we'll also want to take the movies that we paid for with us on small multimedia players like video iPods.

OTHER ANSWERS. I support the rights of the studios to protect their content right up until it stops me from doing something reasonable that I want to do. Blu-ray crosses this line.

312.3.2007 16:35

I have always respect as a realiable high tech information source. Everybody knows that you CAN burn CDs from ITunes and play them on ANY device..........Same from Sony's place.

With this kind of "news" you are insulting the intelligence of your readers.

Pigfister we are talking about ITunes and Sony's Connect. Period.

412.3.2007 16:48

yeah really, just burn itunes songs to an audio cd and import them. then you have unprotected files.

513.3.2007 0:22

Yes, that is an easy option, but it is an option that really is unnecessary. Do I really want to waste a blank CD and five minutes just to get the music in another format? I shouldn't have to do this. Just because there is a way around something, it doesn't mean that it is any easier to do.

While disc prices have down enough where the price of a single blank CD-R takes no toll on my available cash, it would be nice if I could just automatically transfer my files to the device of my choosing.

Wouldn't the burning of the files on to a CD be classified as "circumventing copy protection?"

I'm not speaking against this process, because I do the same thing with anything that I've downloaded from audible, but even this simple tasks far exceeds the capabilities of most people that I know with computers.

613.3.2007 7:22

i dot know if its circumventing, because its allowed by itunes, and im sure apple knows of it.

either way, i wish if they had to use DRM that it would be a widely available DRM. itd be beter w/o DRM at all, cuz those who are going to pirate will do it anyways, regardless of all the little protections. it only hurts the consumer, not the pirate.

714.3.2007 5:22

I should have better expressed my thought process. The actual process of burning the files on a CD is allowed yes, but doing so just to rip them back off in a non DRM'd form seems to me a process of circumventing.

This I'm sure is not smiled upon by the likes of Apple.

818.3.2007 16:30

Just whines because their losing a monopoly!
The reason apple has a "monopoly" is because their sh!t doesn't smell as bad as M$ and $ony's sh!t does. Apple just managed to buy themselves a good marketing firm/agent and the other companies are to cheap to do so when they can have their people buy off the government instead.

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