Apple Throwing Its Weight Around

Apple has been in trouble lately in Europe, because the songs they sell on the iTunes Music Store are locked by a DRM scheme that makes them unplayable on any Digital Audio Player except the iPod.  When the average Joe goes into Best Buy, he can purchase any one of a bewildering array of makes and models of DAPs, of which the iPod is only one; but if he purchases one of those non-iPod devices, then the songs he buys from iTMS won’t play on it.  That’s stupid, and I know at least a couple people who’ve been in exactly that situation, so I can see why governments or trade groups are mad at Apple over it.

But according to a recent article on Ars, Apple may also be in trouble in Norway for a different reason:

Quoting Ars Technica:

Norwegian law provides a "cooling off" period after a purchase, during which the consumer can opt out of a transaction and return the merchandise for a full refund.  Needless to say, there’s no cooling-off period in iTMS’ terms of service.

Now that’s really stupid.

This is 2006.  You can’t just take old laws that applied to physical goods and slap them onto digital transactions without considering the differences between the situations.  In particular, digital goods (like music files, video files, and computer programs) are fundamentally incapable of being returned.  That’s because there’s no way to guarantee full return of a digital product; the merchant has no way to be sure that the consumer has deleted the original file, or that he hasn’t made any copies of it.

In general, I’m a big fan of the whole idea of return policies.  But when the product is instantly available with just a few mouse clicks, when it’s something that you’ve most likely already heard before, and when it costs 99-freakin’-cents, then I think that 1) the consumer needs to show a little restraint and take responsibility for his actions, rather than having a government force companies to give him a "cooling off" period, and 2) anyone who’s pretending that it’s a big deal to not be able to return a 99-cent song needs to just stop pretending.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies


01. Jun 20, 2006 at 10:15pm by Stein:

no, norway wins!

mar har har!

cause mac’s and everything assosciated with them SUCKS!

it does, for real and for true

02. Jun 21, 2006 at 12:20am by Anthony:

Quoting Stein:

Oooh, look at me, I’m posting from my Norwegian homeland!  Do-deedley-do-doo-do...

You better bring back some good photos!

03. Jun 24, 2006 at 08:04am by Stein:

hahah, well, I have yet to see how good they are, as they are still on my camera, however, I did take 2 6 hour train trips through norway, and took about 250 pictures so far

so we shall see!

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