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Music Media The Internet

EU May Force iTunes Store To Accept Returns 252

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the putting-a-dent-in-the-bottom-line dept.
Sweet Harmony writes "ArsTechnica is reporting that the European Union may soon require online music stores to accept returns. A review of European consumer protection laws has highlighted online sales of 'digital content services' as an area where existing consumer protection laws need to be harmonized. 'The EC would like to standardize cooling-off periods along with other aspects of the EU's consumer protection laws. One of the issues being considered is whether the rules on consumer sales should apply to 'digital content services' like music.'"
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EU May Force iTunes Store To Accept Returns

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  • Aiee (Score:5, Funny)

    by romland (192158) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:43PM (#17985872)
    Poor Britney.
  • Awesome. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:44PM (#17985880)
    Yay! Now I can get 10,000 songs without having to spend $9,999 dollars!

    Oh wait
    • Re:Awesome. (Score:5, Funny)

      by put_the_cat_out (961909) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:55PM (#17987926) Journal
      If you paid $9,999 for 10,000 songs, then you were overcharged!

      At current $0.99 per song pricing, 10,000 songs would cost $9,900
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sgant (178166)
      That IS great! Free songs!

      1. Buy songs from iTunes
      2. Burn songs to CD.
      3. "return" songs for refund.
      4. Enjoy your free music.

      I have to wonder, does this apply also to store bought CD's also in the EU? So can you buy a CD, take it home and rip it to your HD and then return it? Just wondering.

      How does one conduct business like this?
      • Re:Awesome. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:40PM (#17989378) Journal
        You can, of course, but it's no more legal than downloading the track from a P2P network, and more effort. If you're not concerned about legality, then just download the music.

        According to UK law, the iTunes store is required to accept returns within 28 days of sale with no reason given (as is any other retail establishment), although I don't believe that anyone has attempted to force them to do so yet.

        Of course, if you return things frequently, there is nothing stopping the store refusing to do business with you in the future...

  • Returns (Score:3, Insightful)

    by celardore (844933) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:46PM (#17985916)
    Most stores wont allow you to return the goods unless they are faulty. Maybe you could say DRM is a fault....
    • Re:Returns (Score:5, Informative)

      by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:55PM (#17986088) Homepage
      In most EU countries there are special provisions (thus cooling off) for catalogue -, internet and housedoor sales.

      You can step back from the sale and return the item within a specified time period. Depending on country: 7 - 14 days.

    • Re:Returns (Score:4, Informative)

      by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:57PM (#17986110) Homepage

      Remember we're talking about the EU, where consumer protection laws are pretty strong.

      I don't know if it's based on a EU directive, but in the Netherlands, you can return any online purchase within 7 working days, no need to give a reason, and get your money back. Shipping costs are yours, but that's all. There are exceptions to this rule (like things made to order on your specs, or opened CD cases).

      • Re:Returns (Score:5, Funny)

        by ePhil_One (634771) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:01PM (#17986196) Journal
        return any online purchase within 7 working days, no need to give a reason, and get your money back. Shipping costs are yours, but that's all.

        Welcome to the Itunes Euro. All songs .01 Euros with a .98 Euro delivery charge

        • by grahammm (9083) *
          In the UK that would make no difference, as the delivery (from supplier to consumer) charges also have to be refunded. All the consumer has to pay is the postal/courier charge of returning the goods.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            No, under the Distance Selling regulations the shipping charges (either way) dont have to be refunded, only the cost of the item when its returned.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Tony Hoyle (11698)
              You need to read the regulations again.

              http://www.oft.gov.uk/News/Press+releases/2006/133 -06.htmConsumer [oft.gov.uk]

              Section 3.48:

              "The DSRs require you to refund any money paid by or on behalf of the consumer in relation to the contract to the person who made the payment. This means the full price of the goods, or deposit or prepayment made, including the cost of delivery. The essence of
              distance selling is that consumers buy from home and receive goods at home. In these circumstances, almost every case of home
              shopping
      • Re:Returns (Score:5, Insightful)

        by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:04PM (#17986236) Journal

        opened CD cases
        Which is a interesting thing here. In a system designed to let you preview the music before buying, where the delivery method it's self is like opening a CD case, how can you have one set of rules for physical items and one for virtual.
        • by Sancho (17056) *
          It should be pretty easy to fabricate a DRM scheme as useable as FairPlay that would save the number of plays to the ITMS music file, and only allow a certain number of plays before a return. I think an equivalent to "unopened CD" would be "unplayed file".

          Returns without something like this would really put Apple in a tough spot. The fact is, you can extract an unencrypted AAC file from your protected AAC file with tools that are already out there. If they start having to accept returns, you can expect a
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            And you base your assertion that a huge amount people would suddenly start doing "buy, rip, return" on what, exactly? Do consider that
            1) Whomever would be doing it probably also doesn't mind just downloading the music via some p2p network
            2) "buy, rip, return" requires more effort than just queuing a download on whatever p2p client they would happen to be using
            3) People are lazy

            Also, one can assume that there will be an alert triggered by a high (returns / buys) value.
    • by AuMatar (183847)
      WHere the hell do you live? ALmost every store I know of allows returns. The only exceptions being software and grocery stores.
    • by Zenaku (821866)
      Where do you live? I'm just curious, because in my experience most stores will allow you to return anything for any reason at all within 30 days of purchase. Is this something that varies by region?
  • by VJ42 (860241) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:48PM (#17985936)
    TFA talks about the The Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, then goes on to say "Many other EU member countries". Norway is, however, in the EEA so may implements much EU regulation anyway, but get your facts right, please. /rant

    back on topic, this is a good thing, just because I buy something online doesn't mean I should have lees consumer protection than if I buy it physically.
    • by Lithdren (605362) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:49PM (#17985976)
      Agreed. Consumers need to be protected, virtually no matter what it is you're buying.

      Here in the US of A, many of those protections have been stripped, and you can see what is beginning to happen over here.
      • They need protected, not babysat. It wasn't like Apple was hiding what the terms of buying music were. It's written on the website. If a consumer doesn't want to read them then that isn't Apple's fault. They offer a service, if the consumer doesn't want the service then they can go elsewhere. If enough people don't use it, it will either have to adapt or die. That is the beuty of capitalism.

        Banning the service outright because the state doesn't like it is nanny-state mentality pure and simple. "R
      • by VJ42 (860241)

        Agreed. Consumers need to be protected, virtually no matter what it is you're buying.

        Here in the US of A, many of those protections have been stripped, and you can see what is beginning to happen over here.

        Actually I'm in the UK, and we have reasonable consumer protection laws, an example being that if I buy faulty goods over £100 on credit card, not only is the retailer liable, so is the credit card company. We also have strict laws governing advertising. I'm unfamiliar with the situation in the USA, but here most shops will allow me return goods for almost any reason (in addition to any statutory protections). Not only is this good for the consumer, it also makes commercial sense as it doesn't cost m

  • Misclick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Talisman (39902) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:48PM (#17985952) Homepage
    This would be good for people like myself who accidentally bought "I Wanna Fuck You" by Noreaga & Scarlett instead of the Akwon and Snoop Dog version. It would be nice to get the money refunded, and they can gladly take that song back.

    • by idontgno (624372)
      I really wanted to moderate your comment. I just couldn't tell if I should have moderated "+1 Funny", "+1 Interesting", or "+1 TMI".
    • by CrazyTalk (662055)
      OK I don't know who that is (But see that it was modded as funny). Anyway, I bought "99 Luftballoons" on iTunes and ended up getting some crappy version I have never heard before instead of the 80s classic by Nena. Would have returned it if I could.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:48PM (#17985954)
    Sure, people could use this to rip off music companies, but the same deal applies to just about any sale or service. Why should music get a special deal because it is digital?
    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StarvingSE (875139) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:55PM (#17986078)
      Because there is no physical product here, you are paying to copy some bits to your hard drive. This is what makes sales of digital content a fuzzy area. Usually you can only return an opened product if it is faulty. A digital download is never faulty. If you want to claim that you never listened to the song, how can the company tell, and how can they ensure that the file is deleted after you return it? You can't return software or music on physical media if it has been opened, why should it be any different for a download? I'd say most companies say that if you choose to download the file, it is considered "opened."
      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vadim_t (324782) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#17986360) Homepage
        Sure a digital download can be faulty. It can be a recording of a really bad quality, a corrupted file, several minutes of silence, the wrong song altogether, or have DRM attached that prevents you from playing it. There are probably other modes of failure that didn't come to my mind.
      • It is not a matter of whether or not you listened to a song, but whether you want to keep it. You read the title etc and think this is going to be the best song ever. Buy it and it is crap. So then you want to return it and get your money back. After all, nobody is selling bits here, they are selling enjoyment. If the poroduct does not deliver enjoyment, then it is "broken" - much like clothing that is returned because it does not fit or is the wrong color etc.

        The same will likely also apply to software if

        • That's an interesting way to look at it. Are you also entitled to a refund of a movie ticket if you didn't enjoy it? What about a concert?
          • by Clazzy (958719) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:40PM (#17986848)
            What about prostitutes?
            • Thanks, you've allowed me to realize that hot coffee coming out of my nose hurts.... too funny
          • by AusIV (950840) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:50PM (#17987016)
            I agree. Using that logic, you could return anything you don't like, whether or not it's really defective. It completely absolves the customer of any accountability for doing research prior to making a purchase.

            If a movie is bad, I still pay for it. If I should be upset with anyone, it's whoever suggested I see it in the first place, not the movie theatre. If there were kids crying through an entire R-rated movie because someone didn't want to pay for a baby-sitter and the theatre didn't want to kick them out, I might ask for a refund. If it happens again, I probably won't return to that theatre.

            If I buy a piece of software and it doesn't do what I want, I'm stuck with it. For example, if I bought a music editor, I couldn't return it because it doesn't edit photos. If it doesn't do what it advertised I might look for a refund.

            If I buy music from iTunes and don't like that I can't play it on Linux, I have the choice of burning and ripping, finding an illegal alternative method of removing the DRM, or forgetting about the music. If I buy a song from iTunes and it won't play on my iPod, I'd pursue a refund.

            In short, company's should only have to provide what they tell you they're selling you. If they misrepresent the product, you should be able to get your money back. If you don't do anything to make sure you know what you're buying, I have no pity.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Mad Dog Manley (93208)
            Are you also entitled to a refund of a movie ticket if you didn't enjoy it?

            Most theatres will refund your money if you leave within the first 10-15 minutes. I don't know about you, but it usually doesn't take me that long to figure out if a movie is trash.
      • oh, a digital download can be faulty (though it is rare), but typically there is no extra charge to re-download.

        But yeah the base idea is still the same: they can't be certain you aren't keeping a copy yourself.

      • by winnabago (949419)
        I had a few times where a song I got from eMusic was, in fact, faulty. The track was 50 seconds of silence, while the metadata showed a full title. I thought it might have been some weird trick by the band, but a quick look at the track listing at amazon showed otherwise.

        Anyway, I asked them to take a look at it, but they said the problem was on my end. I'm no longer a member, but I just looked again, and 12 months later it is still showing a broken track. I found eMusic, while having an admirable cau
      • A digital download is never faulty.

        True, but the original file sometimes is. I've bought several faulty audiobooks from iTunes in the past. In each case, I told them about the problem via the handy web form, and after a while of them not listening and just sending the same faulty file to me again, they eventually listened to what I was saying and gave me the money back. So sometimes a downloaded file can be faulty, and they already give the consumer their money back.

        How can they ensure that the file

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by krbvroc1 (725200) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:10PM (#17987316)
        What makes this different is that the seller wrapped their product in DRM. The whole justification for DRM was to lock up the content to protect 'their rights'. If you wish to return a product, the DRM can be used to revoke your rights, effectively relinquishing your ownership. A return requirement makes perfect sense for DRM'd items. The problem is the sellers want to have it both ways--selling their DRM version, but not providing returns--a lose lose for consumers.
    • by Ctrl-Z (28806)
      The same deal does not apply to other copyrighted media such as CDs or DVDs if you have opened them, or books if you have read them. If you are talking about returning unopened items, then fine, but how can you tell if a digital media file has been played?
    • It applies to Sales of Goods for sure, but how do you return a Service that has already been rendered ?

      And also is digital bits really a "Good" ?

      Digital download is "Information". Can you return Information ? You can return the Media if there is one. But in this case there is no Media.

  • Tip ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:49PM (#17985968) Homepage
    Why not just mandate a "preview" where you can hear a prominent 30 second clip (e.g. melody or chorus or some such). Then say "if you decide to buy, you agree there is no return" in big bold letters. I don't know if itunes already does this (I think it does, so forgive the ignorance) but that should quash any problems.

    In the grand scheme of things, if there are drm'ed files that are corrupt that's another issue. But if you just blindly buy a dozen tracks without knowing a thing about them you assume the risk. Not like you can "uncopy" or "unhear" them.

    Just like movie theaters, I know at the AMC it was policy that if you left upto 30 mins in a movie you could get a full refund. After that you're screwed. I actually made use of that policy during the movie "Any Given Sunday" [or whatever it's called, that stupid football movie]. I walked out after 15 mins and got my money back.

    Tom
  • by pulse2600 (625694)
    How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!? To return something usually means you give that thing back and no longer posess it in exchange for a refund, store credit, or replacement item. How do you return a digital file? It's not like they can check to see if you have it anymore. Even if you delete the file, it can be recovered. You will always have that file unless all your digital media has been confiscated upon "return".
    • Maybe like this? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EasyT (749945) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:58PM (#17986124) Journal
      I would imagine Apple would de-authorize that song for all your computers and prevent you from re-authorizing it. The "evil of DRM" would allow for this service to comsumers I think.

      Or am I missing something?

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:05PM (#17986254) Homepage Journal
      How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!?

      I hear the Zune switches modes from squirt to suck.
      • >>How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!?

        >I hear the Zune switches modes from squirt to suck.

        Well, if that's the case, the Zune has at least one thing going for it.

    • by Raphael (18701) <quinet@nospAm.gamers.org> on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:16PM (#17986452) Homepage Journal

      How do you return a digital file?

      Read the article again: if I understood it correctly, this mandatory cooling off period during which returns must be accepted would only apply to content that has interoperability problems. In other words, it is very likely that it would only apply to DRM-protected content.

      So it would obviously not apply to Ogg Vorbis or MP3 music files because these are not tied to specific devices. On the other hand, this would apply to music or other digital content that does not let you exercise your usual consumer rights. And if the music can only be played on one specific device under some specific conditions, then the provider would have to accept returns. Presumably, the DRM protection would also require some sort of online validation to ensure that the DRM-protected content that you are trying to play has not been "returned".

      Even if the DRM scheme does not require you to be online every time you attempt to play some protected content, there are ways to limit your ability to play "returned" content. For example, the database holding the keys for all your protected music could be versioned or could use some key chaining that makes it very difficult for you to re-insert a key that has been removed. So even if you restore both the music and the keys from backups, you would not be able to do much with them or you would not be able to play anything else that you downloaded later. Given that the DRM stuff is creeping increasingly deeper into some proprietary operating systems, you may even have to re-install your OS if you want to be able to play the "returned" files. Although this would be possible in theory, I doubt that you would enjoy the experience...

      Anyway, don't forget that DRM is defective by design [defectivebydesign.org].

      • if I understood it correctly, this mandatory cooling off period during which returns must be accepted would only apply to content that has interoperability problems. In other words, it is very likely that it would only apply to DRM-protected content.

        So it would obviously not apply to Ogg Vorbis or MP3 music files because these are not tied to specific devices.

        How do you figure. Ogg vorbis must be the least interoperable format in existence, playing only on amost immeasurably small number of players. MP3 only plays on players whose companies have paid the Fraunhoffer folks for a liscence so it's not interopeable unless of course you are want to force people to use an unliscenced player (e.g. Linux).

        So the question is, when do we draw the line and say that something should work for most folks. As it stands, there are many pure MP3 Players and an even greater

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by IAmAI (961807)

        if I understood it correctly, this mandatory cooling off period during which returns must be accepted would only apply to content that has interoperability problems. In other words, it is very likely that it would only apply to DRM-protected content.

        At first I was concerned that such legislation would encourage DRM as that would be the only possible means of revoking downloaded media from a buyer, assuming that they would want to do that if they forced to provide refunds. On the other hand, assuming that you are correct, the legislation could encourage the adoption of DRM-free downloads as the company, presumably, wouldn't have to give anyone refunds. Personally I'd be much more happy without the DRM than without a refund policy :)

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!?

      You delete it. How is this any more problematic than, say, returning a half-eaten burger? Walking out of a movie 15 minutes into it? You could have actually liked the first 15 minutes that you just wanted to see that part. You do what is required customer service. If the product does not work, you do not charge for it. If the returns are too high, then you change the product. That is how it works for physical goods and most services. That's how it should wo
    • by mypalmike (454265)
      How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!?

      You upload it.

      Duh.

      I imagine there will be some sort of restocking fee though.
    • by frdmfghtr (603968)

      How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!? To return something usually means you give that thing back and no longer posess it in exchange for a refund, store credit, or replacement item. How do you return a digital file? It's not like they can check to see if you have it anymore. Even if you delete the file, it can be recovered. You will always have that file unless all your digital media has been confiscated upon "return".

      You can return it the same way I returned a downloaded copy of Norton Antivirus seve

  • Meh, $10 says that they put something in there like "if you play/burn this song you can't return it", just like the no-returns on open software/CD rules that exist already.
    • by vadim_t (324782)
      Hint: The law overrides whatever the EULA says. If the law says a return MUST be possible with no exceptions, then whatever the EULA has to say on it is completely irrelevant. And this is the EU we're walking about, not America (where consumer protection laws are apparently backwards)
      • by Halo1 (136547)
        Returns in the EU are only mandated for unopened goods afaik. In case of a digital download, playing/burning can indeed very well be equated to "opening the packaging" (almost literally, if you consider the DRM as the packaging). As far as that is "worthless" as the GP said: well, it's worthless if you thought this was an incredibly easy way to get free music, but not if it's intended to e.g. help people who have 1 Click Shopping(tm)(patented) turned on and misclicked.
        • by vadim_t (324782)
          At least in Spain, I can return hardware for any reason within a week. After that, I can only get a warranty replacement. Warranty is mandated to be a minimum of 2 years.

          For instance, I've returned normal RAM and got ECC RAM instead, no questions asked.
          • by Halo1 (136547)
            It's probably different depending on the kind of good. If you e.g. buy a CD or DVD from Amazon UK/DE/FR/..., you can only return it if it's not been opened.
  • slippery slope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by micromuncher (171881) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:52PM (#17986020) Homepage
    Once upon a time I worked on the projects TypeOnCall and SoftwareDispatch. The problem with returns where no physical media changes hands is tricky because the brick and morter way you get some physical media back, where electronic media you have no evidence the consumer has completely removed the item from their system. Introducing this policy would likely force an online store into the position of requiring audit of the end users systems to ensure removal. You can't stop someone from copying something and returning it, but there is value is in the doc, jewel case, or whatever. Take that away, and DRM gets a whole lot more incentive.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:54PM (#17986050)
    Isn't it about any online music retailer, DRM or not?

    Hint: the answer isn't "because iTunes is the most popular store". When Microsoft was targeted for doing things like offering refunds for unused Windows licenses, Microsoft is mentioned explicitly because it is the only one engaged in that behavior.

    So why is only "iTunes" mentioned in stories like these when in fact most (if not all - I haven't checked) also likely have similar practices?
    • by mehgul (654410)
      Here's an analogy:
      iPod=PC-box
      iPod firmware=Windows
      iTunes Store music=shareware sold online that works on Windows only*

      So when's the Norwegian ombudsman going to threaten shareware developers? And how about e-books? Online magazine subscriptions?

      *Except you can't just burn a piece of shareware on a CD to make it work on Linux.
    • The answer (Score:3, Informative)

      by grimJester (890090)
      As the headline of TFA states, this is about online music sales. What is specifically about iTunes is the Norwegian case where iTunes have been accused of breaking existing law. The law is the same for Apple as for any other online music store. The Consumer Council of Norway had recieved complaints about iTunes and brought the case to the consumer ombudsman.

      There are no Apple-only laws and no grand conspiracy against Apple. "because iTunes is the most popular store" actually is part of the explanation thou
  • I know it sounds stupid, just like this 'return of downloaded files' idea. Exactly what constitutes a return in this case? Should the return be made in exactly the same bits (impossible) or equivalent of the bits? If it is the equivalent, then do these bits have to be in the same order, or can the customer just return Ax1s and Bx0s? The whole thing is stupid, which makes this question stupid just like it is supposed to be. But hey, it's coming from a government, how could it be anything but stupid?
  • From experience I've found that it's much harder to return anything in Europe than it is in the US, the countries I've been to anyway. Regardless, even in the US, stores wont except returns for music and software if the package has been opened for obvious reasons.

    How does someone even go about returning downloaded music? Unless the seller starts tracking what music you're playing and whether it's legal I don't see how this could possibly work. As much as I want to see the music industry get hit I can't say
    • by VJ42 (860241)

      From experience I've found that it's much harder to return anything in Europe than it is in the US,

      Which European countries have you been to? Here in the UK, the shops take back goods for virtually any reason, usually the only thing they ask for is a receipt. Infact we have statutory protection that forces retailers to refund me if they supply me with faulty goods. Further if my purchase is above £100 and I bought it with a credit card, I can sue the credit card company to get my money back.

    • What is the obvious reason?

      The only one I can think of is that they don't want to have to give your money back when they realize their product is sub-standard.

      It can't be the piracy thing, because why would you bother purchasing a copy and returning it to pirate music/software when you can just download it with the DRM already bypassed. It's interesting that they've gotten you to think that their bullshit lies about return policies are "obvious" though.
      • Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there are a lot of people out there who are complete morons and a lot of people out there who are dishonest. In fact, these two groups overlap in a significant way.

        Saying that It can't be the piracy thing is ridiculous, because a lot of the morons wouldn't be able to figure out how to download files over P2P. And saying that returns are only because their product is sub-standard is equally foolish, as a lot of dishonest folks out there would be happy to buy a CD, rip
  • DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:58PM (#17986148)

    My karma's going to go to hell for this, but here's an interesting thought.

    This "return" concept is entirely impossible without DRM.

    • by cowscows (103644)
      It's really just as unworkable with DRM. Taking the iTMS as an example, I can freely copy purchased songs to my ipod, so what would stop me from doing that and then "returning" the song immediately afterwards?

      They're either going to cause Apple to make the DRM more restrictive, or cause Apple to turn off the switch on iTMS Europe.

      I guess in the long run, if they start this policy with all online music distributors, it could potentially help convince the labels that DRM is not a useful business model. Apple
  • by abes (82351) on Monday February 12, 2007 @01:59PM (#17986162) Homepage
    This is funny, because some of those EU countries are also demanding that the music be un-DRM'd. At least with DRM, you can in theory handle returns in a sane manner (invalidate the license on the music), while for MP3 files, it's much more difficult. One way around this *might* be to finger print the MP3s, and keep a database of what you're allowed to play. Hackable? Yes, but so is everything else.

    Of course, some compromise could probably negate most of the negative impacts, such as limiting the number of returns per year, and only giving in-store credit.
  • As far as I can figure out, the only way to do this is to assign a subkey to each track you buy, under your master key, so that if you return it, the subkey can be revoked from your chain. This will also require that the chain be somewhere you can't edit, like in TPM somewhere, so you can't back it up and overwrite it later. And yes, it would require an extensive re-working of the current FairPlay system to do this.
    • ...it would require an extensive re-working of the current FairPlay system ...
      I think this may be the EU's point. Maybe of the people on the other side of the pond are starting to look at Apple's music "monopoly" like they viewed Microsoft's OS "monopoly" in the 1990s.
      • ...it would require an extensive re-working of the current FairPlay system ...

        I think this may be the EU's point. Maybe of the people on the other side of the pond are starting to look at Apple's music "monopoly" like they viewed Microsoft's OS "monopoly" in the 1990s.

        The reworking to get it technically able to rescind keys has nothing to do with opening it up. In fact it could also be an argument against it, when taken with remarks Jobs has made, about the contracts requiring quick fixes for any exploits

  • Surely they meant to say "cooling off" not cooling offer.
    A cooling offer sounds more like an M&A gone bad or a real estate deal that sits around too long.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:13PM (#17986392) Homepage Journal
    The only way a "return" on a digital artifact could work is if it was verifiably deleted. It is, of course, impossible to do this, but the only framework within which you can even pretend it's possible is a draconian copy protection ("DRM") regime.

    Personally, I think this is kinda fair-ish. If you're going to pretend that digital files are scarce objects, then you have to accept all the responsibilities of selling scarce objects in a retail marketplace, and that means accepting returns.

    If, however, they were to do away with copy protection entirely, thereby dropping the scarce object fiction, then they could provably make the argument to a technically unsophisticated crowd (politicians) that "returns" are impossible. Under such circumstances, I think we could let music vendors slide on returns.

    So: If you sell with copy protection, you have to accept returns. If you sell without copy protection, then you don't have to accept returns. Seem fair? Fair-ish?

    One side-effect of this might be that you couldn't return music CDs, since they can be freely copied.

    Schwab

  • "May" (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jerry Rivers (881171) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:19PM (#17986496)
    "EU May Force iTunes Store to Accept Returns"

    Or they "may" not. Let me know when this is actually a fact not just speculation.
  • by doroshjt (1044472) on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:28PM (#17986666)
    If i upload songs without a reciept can I get store credit?
  • Why should digital music be different than any other kind of music. After enough playing, doesn't it wear the sharp edges off of all those 1's?
  • The one time I've had cause to complain about an iTMS purchase I got a refund within 24hrs. That was an Audible product too - no-one told 'em that Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is supposed to be in stereo. So I still have their crappy mono version, got my money back and bought the CDs off play.com instead.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:47PM (#17988690) Homepage
    Do I need to upload the file back to iTunes?

    -
  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:28PM (#17989236)
    People are joking about "do I have to upload the file back to the server". I'd say "Yes" in some cases.

    Why would you return a non-DRM'd MP3 file. You can't just say "I don't like the song" likely to only reson you could return it is because it is corrupted or has some technical error. So you send it back a "proof" and they then sed yu the same track but non-defective. just like with an opened CD all they will do is give you the same CD title in exchange.

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