February 14, 2005 10:26 AM PST

Apple, Sony sued over DRM in France

Apple Computer and Sony are to appear in court over claims that their respective music download sites have been deceitful and have forced consumers to buy products because they are tied together.

French consumer association Union Federale des Consommateurs-Que Choisir has launched legal action over the two companies' proprietary music formats, claiming that the respective digital rights management used by both Sony and Apple, which prevent songs bought from their online music shops from being played on other manufacturers' media players, is limiting consumers' choice.

The consumer group announced that it would take legal action against the pair after conducting interoperability tests last year between a selection of download services and digital music players. The group criticized the two companies' lack of interoperable DRM.

"The total absence of interoperability between DRM removes not only consumers' power to independently choose their purchase and where they buy it from but also constitutes a significant restraint on the free circulation of creative works," the group said.

Despite railing against Microsoft's similar locked-down stance on interoperability during its compatibility testing and indicating that the company was in its legal sights, UFC-Que Choisir has not filed suit against the Redmond, Wash.-based software behemoth.

The suit was filed against Sony France and Sony United Kingdom, as well as Apple's French unit and its iTunes Music Store. Apple's case will be heard in a Court of First Instance in Paris; Sony's will be held in a Nanterre court. Both cases are expected to be heard later this year.

Apple declined to comment. Sony did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This isn't the first time the issue of interoperability in music has made its way through the French legal system.

Recently, VirginMega, a subsidiary of Virgin Group, brought an anticompetition case against Apple before the French Competition Council. The case was rejected late last year.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

8 comments

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DRM always anti-competative
I find these conversations amusing at times. Inter-operable DRM is not possible because of the way that DRM accomplishes its claimed goals. What a copyright holder is doing is encoding their digital content and license agreement in a file format that is intentionally only able to be opened by a media player where the manufacturer is trusted. This encoding may involve a vendor dependent file format, but even if it was a vendor independent file format it would still need to be encoded in a vendor specific cryptographic key.

Governments supporting legal protection for DRM if they ratify the 1996 re-intermediation WIPO treaties must recognize that they do so in opposition to a long list of established public policy such as competition, ICT interoperability, privacy rights, communications rights, cultural rights, ....

Submission to the Canadian Competition Bureau: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.flora.ca/competition2003/" target="_newWindow">http://www.flora.ca/competition2003/</a>

If in Canada, please sign our Petition for Users' Rights <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/" target="_newWindow">http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/</a>
Posted by Russell McOrmond (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DRM always anti-competative
I find these conversations amusing at times. Inter-operable DRM is not possible because of the way that DRM accomplishes its claimed goals. What a copyright holder is doing is encoding their digital content and license agreement in a file format that is intentionally only able to be opened by a media player where the manufacturer is trusted. This encoding may involve a vendor dependent file format, but even if it was a vendor independent file format it would still need to be encoded in a vendor specific cryptographic key.

Governments supporting legal protection for DRM if they ratify the 1996 re-intermediation WIPO treaties must recognize that they do so in opposition to a long list of established public policy such as competition, ICT interoperability, privacy rights, communications rights, cultural rights, ....

Submission to the Canadian Competition Bureau: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.flora.ca/competition2003/" target="_newWindow">http://www.flora.ca/competition2003/</a>

If in Canada, please sign our Petition for Users' Rights <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/" target="_newWindow">http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/</a>
Posted by Russell McOrmond (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Customers choise
This is kind of stupid, shall I be able to sue the record company
because they do not support records anymore. If I like to use a
turnetable can I sue the company for not supporting this format
anymore?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
Your analogy is a bit flawed in that this suit isn't about continued support for old media or your right to use said media. A more accurate analogy might be if every record company had their proprietary CD format and only player sanction by that record company could play said CD.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Customers choise
This is kind of stupid, shall I be able to sue the record company
because they do not support records anymore. If I like to use a
turnetable can I sue the company for not supporting this format
anymore?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reply
Your analogy is a bit flawed in that this suit isn't about continued support for old media or your right to use said media. A more accurate analogy might be if every record company had their proprietary CD format and only player sanction by that record company could play said CD.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
There Was No Deception
It has NEVER been a secret that iTunes purchases are designed
to play only in iTunes and iPods. What the heck is the suit
REALLY about?!
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There Was No Deception
It has NEVER been a secret that iTunes purchases are designed
to play only in iTunes and iPods. What the heck is the suit
REALLY about?!
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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