Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 26th May 2010 15:34 UTC
Legal Well, this was as inevitable as the tides rolling in. The New York Times is reporting that the US Department of Justice is investigating Apple's tactics in the digital music market. The antitrust probe is still in an early phase, and is said to focus on "the dynamics of selling music online".
Order by: Score:
Hmm...
by jgagnon on Wed 26th May 2010 17:23 UTC
jgagnon
Member since:
2008-06-24

Thus far, I've exclusively purchased digital music from Amazon and have never even installed or opened iTunes. Unrestricted music for the win. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Hmm...
by Declination on Wed 26th May 2010 17:59 UTC in reply to "Hmm..."
Declination Member since:
2009-11-26

Apple hasn't sold music with DRM for some time now.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Hmm...
by Kroc on Wed 26th May 2010 18:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

But it still persists on videos. job’s call to action on DRM was nothing but a marketing stunt to rile up the Internet, just the same with his jabs at Flash.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Hmm...
by Tony Swash on Wed 26th May 2010 18:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Hmm..."
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

But it still persists on videos. job’s call to action on DRM was nothing but a marketing stunt to rile up the Internet, just the same with his jabs at Flash.



Not a shred of evidence for that. Apple only does what the content sellers insist on in order to sell their content. Every time the content providers have agreed to remove DRM Apple have gone along with it, in fact embraced it. You misunderstand Apple's business model.

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: Hmm...
by Kroc on Wed 26th May 2010 19:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Hmm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Except for that whole variable pricing thing, right?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Hmm...
by mtzmtulivu on Wed 26th May 2010 19:48 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Hmm..."
mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14


Not a shred of evidence for that. Apple only does what the content sellers insist on in order to sell their content. Every time the content providers have agreed to remove DRM Apple have gone along with it, in fact embraced it. You misunderstand Apple's business model.


Not true. Apple requires all audio books to have DRM and content providers have no say in it.

A content owner discussed this requirenment in TWIT episode 249, a transcript of the relevant part:

Cory Doctorow So with Makers they agreed to drop the DRM from my audiobook. We still had some questions about it. We didn’t end up going with it. But they agreed to drop DRM from my audiobook. I thought that was really good of them. The problem was of course that Apple said, if you don’t put DRM in it, we won’t carry it, so – and Apple is the major distributor.

Leo Laporte So this is – the real question is who is enforcing this DRM stuff. Is it the publishers? And we had this conversation before where you said you tried to get Audible to do without DRM. And they said, no, we’re just not going to do that.

Cory Doctorow So they changed their mind.

Leo Laporte So that’s good news, yeah.

Cory Doctorow Yeah, I think that’s great. But Apple refused to carry it on the iTunes Store. They said DRM or nothing.


so it seems apple is preventing some publishers of audio books from selling their books without DRM.

You can download and listen to the podcast yourself from here: http://twit.tv/249

The comment was made at around one hour and nineteen minutes into the episode.

Edited 2010-05-26 19:51 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Hmm...
by fanboi_fanboi on Wed 26th May 2010 21:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Hmm..."
fanboi_fanboi Member since:
2010-04-21

Good gravy, I'd DRM the hell out of Doctorow's tripe. He's as smart as a bag of hammers.

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: Hmm...
by darknexus on Thu 27th May 2010 16:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Hmm..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Not true. Apple requires all audio books to have DRM and content providers have no say in it.


Don't twist things. Audiobook producers cannot sell their audiobooks on iTunes (stupid, imho) Apple goes exclusively through audible.com. Audible are the ones requiring DRM and giving the authors and other providers no say in it. Apple cannot, legally, remove DRM from their audiobooks until audible says they can. Audible refuses, they won't even allow an author who sells their books directly through audible to have DRM-free files even if said author wishes to do so. You want DRM-free audiobooks on iTunes, go after the real problem: Audible. Either that, or help Apple contracts with another audiobook provider when it comes time.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Hmm...
by darknexus on Wed 26th May 2010 19:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Hmm..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

But it still persists on videos.


Because the movie and TV industries haven't learned the hard lesson the music industry has grudgingly, finally, learned. Apple cannot sell videos without DRM if the content producers do not allow it. If you need proof of the video industry's love of DRM, just look at what they did to Blu-ray and DVDs before that. If Apple removed the DRM from their videos, they'd be squashed by big media before you could blink.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Hmm...
by jgagnon on Wed 26th May 2010 18:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmm..."
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

I get MP3's from Amazon and I don't want any other format. MP3's work with everything I have and I see no reason to change just because another format saves a few more bits of the original recording.

As far as I understand it, I can't get my music as MP3's directly from iTunes and I must instead download them in some other format and then convert them to MP3. A hassle I'm not willing to endure repeatedly. If there was some setting that said "always download as MP3" then I'd consider it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Hmm...
by indiworks on Thu 27th May 2010 07:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmm..."
indiworks Member since:
2010-05-03

Apple hasn't sold music with DRM for some time now.


Apple is still selling DRMed music, it's simply watermarked DRM (your name etc. attached to every song you buy)!!!

So what about your rights of second-hand selling your iTunes song or passing on your collection to someone else (e.g. heritage)...? iTunes = still DRM but hidden!

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/06/how-dirty-mp3-files-are-a-back-doo...

Edited 2010-05-27 07:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Funny
by fretinator on Wed 26th May 2010 17:44 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

It turns out the hammer was a boom-a-rang.

Reply Score: 5

I hope something comes of this...
by looncraz on Wed 26th May 2010 17:57 UTC
looncraz
Member since:
2005-07-24

I seriously hope Apple learns that a single product can create a market in which anti-trust laws govern activity.

They need that lesson after what they did to Psystar.

--The loon

Reply Score: 5

Tech punditry: Not worth wiping your arse on.
by Kroc on Wed 26th May 2010 17:59 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Well this is a surprise. According to Slashdot and numerous other technology analysts, iTunes could never become a monopoly because there were so many better competitors out there like Creative, Real and Microsoft.

And I suppose the iPhone will be dead before Christmas? Two years ago. However could they have got that one wrong?

The iPad will be next to go because Courier and NVidia’s Tegra are clearly superior.

P.S. OSnews v5 will be entirely Flash, with Silverlight for fallback. The special effects are really amazing. Flash is unquestionably the best technology for the future.

Reply Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well this is a surprise. According to Slashdot and numerous other technology analysts, iTunes could never become a monopoly because there were so many better competitors out there like Creative, Real and Microsoft.

You forgot about recent versions of Winamp, sir ;) They've got a music store, too !

(Someday, I'll understand why so much people love that playlist+library mess, and what this model puts on the table except proprietary database that doesn't work with competiting software. In meantime, I just can observe how good software from the past can die through bloat and attempt to implement that messy model...)

Edited 2010-05-26 20:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

mrhasbean Member since:
2006-04-03

Someday, I'll understand why so much people love that playlist+library mess, and what this model puts on the table except proprietary database that doesn't work with competiting software.


That "proprietary" database is XML and can work quite happily with other software, which is why there are a number of such products available.

I find this whole thing rather interesting. Apple were responsible for building the online music market to what it is today. DRM was NOT their doing - and I say this as someone who's been involved in a project selling downloadable audio products for quite some years now. The idiotic position on this of the recording companies has to be experienced to be believed.

Apple are in fact one of our main competitors, and we don't think anything they are doing is in any way forcing the hand of the labels. Audible, the company who's been at the back end of Audio Books on the iTunes store has long been into forcing exclusivity deals - especially on product releases - and dictating pricing, and it's our understanding that Apple is in the process of shedding this contract partly because of the level of dissatisfaction amongst the vendors because of Audible's actions and policies.

While I agree that they need to be kept under scrutiny I really don't think they have anything much to worry about at the moment.

Reply Score: 2

jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

You guys got a v5 site up we can sample?

Reply Score: 2

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Not yet. It’s still early and I’m building it in spare time. I’m working towards getting the core basics working and then we could consider a small alpha testing group. All I can say (and Thom will back me up) is that it looks gorgeous, it’s not overdone in any way and it will be awesome.

Reply Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Oh god, I'd love so much to check it, just for the sake of seeing if some nasty areas of low usability have been successfully redone, and if the "gorgeous" factor is some usual shiny design (that may look good, don't get me wrong) or something more original like the current titlebar design...

...

...

Remember me, how much did you say to be part of that "small group" ? ;)

Edited 2010-05-26 21:52 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29


P.S. OSnews v5 will be entirely Flash, with Silverlight for fallback. The special effects are really amazing. Flash is unquestionably the best technology for the future.


I resent Silverlight taking a backseat to Flash, but that's my resident fanboy talking. =).

Reply Score: 2

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Correct, the whole thing should be wrapped in XAML, AIR and then JavaFX. Then everybody’s covered! And we only had to develop the same content 10 times over!

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Correct, the whole thing should be wrapped in XAML, AIR and then JavaFX. Then everybody’s covered! And we only had to develop the same content 10 times over!


You're forgetting the galloping unicorn .gif animations I demanded.

Reply Score: 4

Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

Well this is a surprise. According to Slashdot and numerous other technology analysts, iTunes could never become a monopoly because there were so many better competitors out there like Creative, Real and Microsoft.

And I suppose the iPhone will be dead before Christmas? Two years ago. However could they have got that one wrong?

The iPad will be next to go because Courier and NVidia’s Tegra are clearly superior.

P.S. OSnews v5 will be entirely Flash, with Silverlight for fallback. The special effects are really amazing. Flash is unquestionably the best technology for the future.


Yep, sounds like slashdot.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by mtzmtulivu
by mtzmtulivu on Wed 26th May 2010 18:02 UTC
mtzmtulivu
Member since:
2006-11-14

It will be best if people educate themselves in anti-trust fundamentals before starting discussing this issue. The wikipedia entry is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competition_law

All companies naturally do what is best for themselves. What is best for a company is usually what is best for the whole market place is there is a true competition in that market place.

Usually more harm than good occurs when one company gets too large because the market place will fail to "push them back in line" when their best interest fall off the best interest of the market place and here is where anti trust laws come into play, to protect the interest of the market place as a whole.

A company does not have to be a monopoly first before it get accused of violating anti-trust laws, it just have to be too big in a market place and start acting in ways other places cant successfully counter act it.

The question here is not if apple if a monopoly or not in this market, it is if its size is large enough to raise anti-trust concerns.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by chikahiro
by chikahiro on Wed 26th May 2010 18:36 UTC
chikahiro
Member since:
2009-10-15

I have to admit: I'm experience schadenfreude right now. This is purely emotional, not rational, etc. I'd love it if the OSX (or even Windows) version of iTunes was forced to support other players.

Again, I'll admit - I'm not being rational right now.

Reply Score: 2

It seems...
by Anonymous Penguin on Wed 26th May 2010 20:28 UTC
Anonymous Penguin
Member since:
2005-07-06

...That Apple has a few powerful enemies at the moment: Google, the US Department of Justice, maybe Nokia...
I can't feel sorry for them. If I want to use OS X I have only two options: a Hackintosh (probably illegal) or spending about 1000 Euro more than I'd spend for a PC. That because I like only the Mac Pro and the 17" Macbook Pro.

Reply Score: 2

Investigated for helping competition?
by daveak on Wed 26th May 2010 20:29 UTC
daveak
Member since:
2008-12-29

This seems a little odd. In my eyes Apple have helped the online music business by trying to prevent Amazon having a monopoly on certain tracks. By ensuring competition surely the consumer wins. This is of course ignoring the fact that Apple would probably like to lock up the whole market for themselves but that is another issue.

Reply Score: 1

oh great!
by StychoKiller on Wed 26th May 2010 22:00 UTC
StychoKiller
Member since:
2005-09-20

When Congress spends time doing stupid things it shouldn't be doing, it is not doing even stupider things it shouldn't be doing.

Inform everyone when the Govt starts an anti-trust investigation on the Federal Reserve, that's something I could view as a serious effort.

Reply Score: 3

Recording Mafia
by Macrat on Wed 26th May 2010 23:39 UTC
Macrat
Member since:
2006-03-27

The gov't should really be spending their time taking out the RIAA and their bully tactics on their customers.

Reply Score: 5

I'm not seeing the problem here
by robco74 on Thu 27th May 2010 00:23 UTC
robco74
Member since:
2009-10-22

Apple wanted to make sure they get the same music Amazon gets on the same day. They weren't using their market position to try and get the reverse, nor were they using it to keep the record companies from offering the same music on Amazon. This is much kinder than what MS did to Netscape back in the day. Should record companies offer music to Amazon sooner just to help the underdog, or should they offer it to all retailers (online and retail) at the same time to ensure fairness?

There has to be more going on that has sparked this inquiry.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Thu 27th May 2010 03:09 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

The probe doesn't go further enough into the industry and doesn't address the underlying problems as so far as competition, interoperability and third party support.

What is required is for a industry standard to be developed that all phone and media device companies conform to and can be implemented royalty and NDA free without exceptions. That by itself would break the tripoly between the operating system, the software sitting on top and the proprietary protocol that binds the hardware to the software to the operating system. Each part of the equation supporting the other thus limiting the end users choice about the software they use to synchronise with the device, limiting the operating system they can run on their computer and limiting the sources in which one can obtain music and applications from.

They also need to look at the way in which the music and movie companies operate and force both industries that when they release an product it must be made availably globally at the same price (within reason of course because of currency fluctuations) at the same time. I'm sick and tired of waiting a year for something that has been out in the United States for months - and it is nothing more than cartel like behaviour.

Sort those two problems out and you'll go along way to addressing the problems that exist in the IT industry - btw, it isn't an 'Apple issue', it is an industry wide issue that needs to be addressed across the board rather than just focusing in on one company. Yes that includes Amazon and their scumbag policy of only selling music to select markets and refuse to sell a kindle to me living in New Zealand - so yes Jeff Bezos, go suck a tail pipe along with your cartel friends.

Reply Score: 3

bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

Who hurts consumers and artists? The recording companies. Who is keeping most of the iTunes profits? The recording companies.

Why aren't they ever the subject of an inquiry? They collude constantly.

In this case, Apple try to dictate some sensible terms but the recording companies can pull the music if they don't like it, though some have found that to be just hurting themselves.

I still buy CDs so I'm not a customer of any download service. The quality isn't there yet. I just don't see how Apple should be the target of this inquiry especially when they, after expenses, don't really make anything on music. It's not even tied to an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or iTunes anymore.

Reply Score: 2

Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

Sigh, firstly RIAA isn't company it's organization. Secondly many people that RIAA represents are artists thru companies that either artists own or where they work. Thirdly, RIAA never has tried to tackle non-RIAA music for been saled. Fourthly, RIAA doesn't negociate with Apple or any other sales company of prices nor anything else. Spend more than 5 mins on there site to actually know what some organization does before flaming shit!

http://www.riaa.com/

Reply Score: 2

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

Sigh, firstly RIAA isn't company it's organization. Secondly many people that RIAA represents are artists thru companies that either artists own or where they work. Thirdly, RIAA never has tried to tackle non-RIAA music for been saled. Fourthly, RIAA doesn't negociate with Apple or any other sales company of prices nor anything else. Spend more than 5 mins on there site to actually know what some organization does before flaming shit!

http://www.riaa.com/


I know who the RIAA is since my dad worked for one of the member companies.

All of the member companies are in agreement (implicitly or explicitly) to collude against the consumer and against the artists. Most of the small companies have been consumed by larger companies and the artists don't control much of anything now.

It's an organisation to protect their businesses. Sometimes, they protect their business from people who don't hurt their business, something like the mob extorts money from store owners. I still the remember the case against the woman who didn't own a computer. That takes real skill to download music.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I still buy CDs so I'm not a customer of any download service. The quality isn't there yet. I just don't see how Apple should be the target of this inquiry especially when they, after expenses, don't really make anything on music. It's not even tied to an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or iTunes anymore.

Well. Anytime you buy one of those, you are forced to install and use iTunes. So iTMS has a considerable advantage over other music stores : iThings' market share. This might rightly be labeled as unfair competition.

(Though I agree with you, Sony and Universal definitely deserve an investigation too. But not an antitrust one)

Reply Score: 2

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23


Well. Anytime you buy one of those, you are forced to install and use iTunes. So iTMS has a considerable advantage over other music stores : iThings' market share. This might rightly be labeled as unfair competition.

(Though I agree with you, Sony and Universal definitely deserve an investigation too. But not an antitrust one)


The individual companies can't be held accountable in an anti-trust sense, but we're seeing fines against flash memory manufacturers for collusion and price fixing. It's not really much different.

As far as iTunes goes, it's loaded and it works and I use it to transfer everything but I've yet to buy any music from the store. There are other ways to buy/sell music for other devices and anyone is welcome to do it. Apple just happens to make it easier.

What surprises me is that I haven't seen anything written about the "sheep" that unconsciously contribute to Apple's success by buying whatever Apple sell.

Reply Score: 2

telns Member since:
2009-06-18

I still buy CDs so I'm not a customer of any download service. The quality isn't there yet.


I'm getting a sense that this is just beginning to change.

In the last few weeks I've managed to purchase three albums I was looking for as FLAC.

Overall, I still prefer to have the physical CD if for nothing other than archive purposes, but FLAC downloads seem to be just turning the corner toward mainstream. Not there yet, but [hopefully] headed there.

Reply Score: 1

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

[
I'm getting a sense that this is just beginning to change.

In the last few weeks I've managed to purchase three albums I was looking for as FLAC.

Overall, I still prefer to have the physical CD if for nothing other than archive purposes, but FLAC downloads seem to be just turning the corner toward mainstream. Not there yet, but [hopefully] headed there.


That's amazingly good. I don't use the format but until one format is accepted, we should be able to download 100 % of the quality, not just a good replica.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by graigsmith
by graigsmith on Sat 29th May 2010 11:37 UTC
graigsmith
Member since:
2006-04-05

good. all that content should be available on other stores as well. including the video content. right now they have a monopoly on online video. and for some music they also have a monopoly.

Reply Score: 2