Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh Those Euro's!

When will they learn? After tepid support for the War On Terrorism now various EU members are starting to grumble about the Digital Rights Management flags inserted in various downloadable media such as Apple's iTunes.

Naturally the French went first, claiming that Apple's restricting of iTunes music to no other portable than it's own iPod was against the interests of French consumers & that the music should be made available in a cross platform format. Now the Norweigans are getting into the fray, giving Apple until June 21 to comply with a similar order. The Swedes are close behind and to complicate matters further the EU is hearing complaints against regional pricing differences between iTunes downloads in violation of EU policies. Now to be fair to Apple they have largely been singled out because they are the largest supplier of downloaded music in Europe which represents over 20% of iTunes total music sales. And let's face it, no one has held a gun to a European head insisting they buy music from Apple.

However it seems that the Euros are increasingly dissatisfied with DRM imposed by US legislation and the real battle ground may be shaping up to be I'll let the Wikipedia entry explain the site more thoroughly, however, according to their FAQ, they are completely legal under Russian law. Of course the RIAA is up in arms, claiming that Allofmp3 have no such rights and their downloads (about $1.75 for an entire album) are completely illegal. What must be doubly troubling to them is that the site is highly professional (no porn pop-ups or the like) and gives the customer download choices in both file format & quality. I'm just not sure how much jurisdiction the Recording Industry Association of America can claim in the Russian Federation or anywhere else? Therefore they are petitioning the US Trade Department to apply pressure on countries (Russia and China particularly) openly ignoring copyright violations.

These WTO tactics can probably have some effect on the piracy of hard goods such as designer handbags, watches & the like but digital music? To operate a site such as you only need 3 things, electricity, a server and an internet connection. I predict an endless game of international Whack-A-Mole with the RIAA fruitlessly chasing pirates around the globe.

But it's hard to find much sympathy for the RIAA, perhaps if they would leave hamming teenagers and low res pop videos on YouTube alone and concentrate on the real issues they might see some support. Right now, as Dicken's said "if that is the law then the law, sir, is an ass."

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