Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

EU May Force iTunes Store To Accept Returns

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the putting-a-dent-in-the-bottom-line dept.

Music 252

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.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Aiee (5, Funny)

romland (192158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985872)

Poor Britney.

Awesome. (3, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985880)

Yay! Now I can get 10,000 songs without having to spend $9,999 dollars!

Oh wait

Re:Awesome. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986416)

True. I suggest this be tagged "pwned".

$9900 not $9999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986930)

nm

Returns (3, Insightful)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985916)

Most stores wont allow you to return the goods unless they are faulty. Maybe you could say DRM is a fault....

Re:Returns (5, Informative)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986088)

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 (3, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986110)

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 (5, Funny)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986196)

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

Re:Returns (1)

grahammm (9083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986256)

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:Returns (4, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986236)

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.

Re:Returns (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987052)

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 huge influx of people grabbing the music, 'ripping' it, and then returning it.

Re:Returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986262)

Oh US beats EU big time. Over here you can pretty much return anything even months after the original purchase - no questions asked.
The only exceptions are things like computer Games and Movies, stuff that you can copy - you can return these but only unopened.

And the most interesting thing is that there are no laws or anything governing this issue - as it should be - the market itself has arrived at a solution which is more superior to the customer than anything EU laws provide for.

Re:Returns (0, Troll)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986412)

It only works because most americans are too lazy to take advantage of the system. It wont work in Europe just like free refills doesn't work in Europe because everybody just buys a "small" and refill it.

It's amazing to go the US and realize all these nice offers you get, just by not being stupid and lazy.

Re:Returns (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987072)

Actually, that would work fine too as the price you pay for soda is approximately split as $0.20US for cup, $0.05 for all the soda a person can drink and the rest is profit. Soda is the most profitable item at Mcdonalds even with free refills. The large is just even more gravy but if mcdonalds never sold another large the soda would still be massively profitable.

As far as returns go on products, the US is slowly approaching a point where returns will be very difficult if not impossible due to the fact the pendulum has swung far away from the 70's-80's where warrenty laws were weak and companies were screwing consumers to now where consumers quite regularily abuse return policies in a number of ways.

Re:Returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986588)

And the most interesting thing is that there are no laws or anything governing this issue - as it should be - the market itself has arrived at a solution which is more superior to the customer than anything EU laws provide for.

Errr... Not really. The EU laws set a minimum. Many shops in the EU accept returned items much beyond the minimum period mandated by the laws.

Although many shops in the US accept returns, there are also many shops (especially among the smaller ones) that will not accept them or will have some ridiculous conditions for accepting returns. That does not happen in the EU.

Re:Returns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986838)

Well, it has been my experience that, in general, it is much easier to return stuff in the US than it is in Europe.

Re:Returns (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986660)

Oh US beats EU big time. Over here you can pretty much return anything even months after the original purchase - no questions asked.
The only exceptions are things like computer Games and Movies, stuff that you can copy - you can return these but only unopened.

And the most interesting thing is that there are no laws or anything governing this issue - as it should be - the market itself has arrived at a solution which is more superior to the customer than anything EU laws provide for.
The same thing goes here in the UK, most shops provide for returns over and above statutory rights, as long as I have the receipt I can return almost anything for any reason, and the thing about CDs isn't entirely true either, I recently returned an open CD because the second to last track didn't play. The shop assistant replaced it (asked me if I wanted a refund or replacement) no questions asked, he didn't even bother to check the CD. It makes good commercial sense because as a result shops can build up good will amongst consumers for little cost.

Re:Returns (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986788)

WHere the hell do you live? ALmost every store I know of allows returns. The only exceptions being software and grocery stores.

3 day cooling off period (1)

DataBroker (964208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986828)

Interesting... Here in the US we allow a 3 day cooling off period for purchases in the home. Originally this was due to get around high-pressure sales tactics (Ma'am, buy this vacuum NOW and we'll throw in the attachments for free. I have to go though, so there's no time to think or call the hubbie. My manager said I only the special running today!)

If you read through the exceptions http://www.consumeraction.gov/caw_shopping_cooling _off.shtml [consumeraction.gov] to the rule, there's no internet exception. I wonder how well you could apply this rule to an internet purchase if you claim that you followed a "high-pressure banner ad" and bought everything you could before prices went up.

Re:Returns (1)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986846)

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?

Norway's not in the EU (4, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (5, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986126)

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. "Remember kids, the state knows what is best for you! The state knows better than you, so listen to the state like good little sheep!"

Re:Norway's not in the EU (1)

daff2k (689551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986560)

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.

It doesn't work just like that.

Just because Apple, or whoever else, declares this and that in their terms of service it doesn't mean that the law of a given country doesn't apply. And, further, just because the legislative and judiciary are always behind the technological possibilities in this "digital age" or ours doesn't mean that they won't catch up and stop the big companies from doing what they want with their customers.

Just like in this case. In the EU e-commerce law grants customers the right to return anything they bought in an online shop ("e-commerce") and get their money back. That didn't exactly apply to online music stores before only because the law was too specific (or not specific enough, depends on how you look at it), and that's probably going to change. I welcome it.

Here in the EU the consumer comes first.

In a somewhat related matter: when you look at EULAs from Microsoft (or Novell, or RedHat) you can see a number of paragraphs that try to take away all kinds of rights from the customer that are in fact granted by law, like the right to benchmark a system and publish the results, the right to install the software on more than one computer or the right to re-sell your (legally purchased) copy of the software. Just because they formulate something in a way that's difficult to comprehend and won't be read by the majority of customers doesn't mean they can do whatever they want. That's why we have (consumer protection) laws.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (0, Troll)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986980)

I have been living in Germany for the past 2 years, and trust me, in the EU the consumer does NOT come first. The government comes first, pure and simple. Ever buy anything from outside the EU and have it shipped to you? I, blisfully unaware of the details of doing so, had an electronic dictionary shipped to me from Japan. This is not an item you can even buy in the EU. However, they wanted to tax me on it, and I wasn't paying 50 euros in tax just to please the German government. Since I am not a member of the EU and refused to pay the outrageous taxes on it, I just said to have them mail it to my house in America, I could pick it up there. I had to take time out of my very busy day to go the very inconviently located Zollamt to deal with these people. Naively I took the beureucrat's word for it(there were 4 of them working there and not a single person came in the whole hour I was mingling with them, which leads me to believe the whole customs racket is just a vast employment scam by the government that annoys everyone else), but of course weeks passed by and nothing. So I called the place in Nuernberg, and they said it was in Frankfurt. Had to call Frankfurt and had to pay 12 cents a minute to be put on hold(something that never happens outside of the EU mind you, not in America, not in Japan etc) only to have Frankfurt tell me it was in Nuernberg. This went back and forth for weeks and eventually they returned it to the person that mailed it to me. The EU, where the consumer comes first, spent extra money to deny me my property. Brilliant! It's a real consumers paradise! Now compare that to the US and Japan, other places I have lived, where I have sent and received laptop computers with no hassle whatsoever from the government.

Ever ride a DeutscheBahn train? Ever actually be on time with that train? Especially when you compare it to the rail system in Japan the rail system in Europe is another government run nightmare. They don't exist to move you around places, they exist to make some government workers feel powerful, and thus do a terrible job of getting anywhere on time. Broken down trains, trains that don't come, and just plain lateness are way too common. I've spent more time waiting in bahnhofs for the next train since I was too late for my connection than I care to count. Again, the government, not the consumer, comes first.

Speaking of consumers, you ever compare the sales taxes in Europe to that of the US, Canada, or Japan? Guess what, they can be 4 to 5 times as much, and in a lot of places in the states, they don't charge sales tax on things like food. I always found it funny that the sales taxes supposedly go to help the less fortunate, and yet a sales tax is the MOST regressive tax you can find. Again, it's not the consumer that comes first, its the government. The government makes a lot of money and employs a lot of people to collect this overly complex tax(businesses don't have to pay it if they are putting it into a finished product, the tax levels are different for all sorts of items, etc).

The government in the EU has this significant power trip, and the iTunes thing is no different. The government sees somewhere where it doesn't have absolute control and CANNOT STAND IT! So therefore they decide that they know what is best and now set their sight on the biggest player in the market.

Bah, if only the American government weren't worse(in different aspects). But no, the EU is a consumer's nightmare, not paradise.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (0, Troll)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986650)

consumer protection is nanny-stating now? christ you people are fucking idiots, you keep extending the term nanny-state to everything - eventually you're going to consider any action taken by a government to protect it's citizens (that's a fucking governments job you dipshit) "nanny-state"

why don't you fucking ANARCHISTS go buy an island somewhere and leave us rational human beings the fuck alone - we're sick of your naive shit

Re:Norway's not in the EU (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986772)

No, the beauty of capitalism is that your company can make butt-loads of money and then lobby the government to make other similar services illegal to ensure that you will contnue to make butt-loads of money for years to come.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986252)

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 much, but builds up good will.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986636)

The credit card companies are actually very good with this over here, and are often a lot of help for purchases of any size, well beyond their legal obligations. Our customer services are not always great over here but credit cards are one of the biggest exceptions I have found to this.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986490)

Yes you may have similar laws implemented to harmonise with the core EU but you have huge tarrifs when you import to the EU and you also dont have the political leverage as you would if you where in the EU :)

You gain in some ways but you also lose in others by having "observer" status.

One thing I do like is that France has the balls to stand up to America and pushing a green tax in order for them to clean up their polution of the world. They get my vote and money :)

Re:Norway's not in the EU (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986752)

I'm from the UK, not Norway; I just pointed that out because most non-Europeans wouldn't know that Norway isn't in the EU, an it's for the very reasons you describe that I'm pro-EU in a very Euro-sceptic country. If we left we'd end up implementing 80% of EU legislation (IIRC that's about the figure Norway and Iceland and the Swiss do) without any input into what that legislation is.

Re:Norway's not in the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986944)

For the American audience...

Non-Europeans == Americans

I regard the UK as a rogue EU member state anyway with more of allegience with America (which blew up in Tony Blair's face recently :) )

Misclick (5, Insightful)

Talisman (39902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985952)

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.

Re:Misclick (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986134)

I really wanted to moderate your comment. I just couldn't tell if I should have moderated "+1 Funny", "+1 Interesting", or "+1 TMI".

Why not? (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#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? (5, Insightful)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#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? (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986360)

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.

You are not buying bits, you're buying enjoyment (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986434)

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 this goes ahead. Don't like it or it does not do what you expect? Sell it, or return it. Sure MS etc might make that very hard, but some companies do allow it. Many countries do have comsumer guarantees that support the customer and in that will make it harder for companies not to take back merchandise.

Re:You are not buying bits, you're buying enjoymen (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986620)

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?

Re:You are not buying bits, you're buying enjoymen (4, Funny)

Clazzy (958719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986848)

What about prostitutes?

Re:You are not buying bits, you're buying enjoymen (4, Insightful)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Why not? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986438)

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.

Re:Why not? (1)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986546)

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 cause, to be lacking in customer service and enough new music to make their higher rates worthwhile.

So, if the channels aren't in place for returns, it is easier to just say "screw you guys" and avoid having pesky problems. It's all on the customer's end.

Faulty downloaded files (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986826)

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 is deleted after you return it?

As far as I know, they don't. The files still seem to work, but I'm honest so I delete them pretty quickly anyway.

Re:Why not? (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986122)

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?

Tip ... (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985968)

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

Re:Tip ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986918)

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.

Won't work. Even if a European consumer "agrees" to such terms the consumer will actually still have the same rights as before since regardless of whether you want to or not you cannot give up rights that you have by law. That means that only if a consumer that regrets a certain purchase decides that because he has "agreed" to such terms, he won't exercise his right to return the product (but why would a consumer that regrets a purchase do that?).

Re:Tip ... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986960)

There has to be some exception to this, otherwise you could abuse the food industry and transportation wicked bad.

"Thanks for the cab ride, i didn't like the service, I'm not paying!"

Just doesn't seem like it would jive.

Tom

Just one problem... (2, Insightful)

pulse2600 (625694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985972)

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? (5, Insightful)

EasyT (749945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986124)

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?

Re:Maybe like this? (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986192)

Sure... the analog hole, any DRM cracking, etc. etc. Bottom like is, if you can see it once, you can steal it - it's just a question of effort.

Re:Maybe like this? (2, Insightful)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986218)

You could still burn it to CD.

Re:Maybe like this? (2, Insightful)

PennyLoafers (883055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986760)

More complex DRM seems to be the only way out of this, but I thought the EU wanted Apple to drop DRM to allow cross compatibility. Perhaps all the EU wants is an even stricter version of Fairplay that can be used by all other competitors to Apple? This is a step in the wrong direction for digital music it seems.

Re:Just one problem... (1)

PsyQo (1020321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986144)

Re:Just one problem... (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986158)

You will always have that file unless all your digital media has been confiscated upon "return". Which is pretty easy with DRM, right? On a less legal level, any of the stuff you buy online can be "found" online anyway.

Re:Just one problem... (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986254)

How do you return DOWNLOADED MUSIC?!?!?!?

I hear the Zune switches modes from squirt to suck.

Re:Just one problem... (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986830)

>>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.

Re:Just one problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17987074)

No, I'm pretty sure the Zune just sucks ...

Re:Just one problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986418)

There currently exists a mechanism whereby a player (i.e. computer, iPod) can be de-authorized. I imagine what would happen is you return the track, your entire computer is de-authorized, then each song is re-authorized assuming it is on Apple's list of music you bought (and that hasn't been returned). Or it may even re-download all the tracks you have, but this could be bandwidth intensive. If you've burned the CD or listened to the song, it won't let you return it. The point is that Apple already has a mechanism for not letting you listen to music you've purchased, so I'm sure they can make that apply to one track that you "return."

The odd thing is this essentially makes Apple's DRM stronger as they have to know more and more about the user.

Re:Just one problem... (3, Informative)

Raphael (18701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986452)

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] .

Applies to Ogg Vorbis too (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986680)

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 number of AAC/MP3 players. Surely the number of AAC players is sufficient to say the expectation of operability is very high.

Re:Just one problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986514)

This cuts both ways. If you want to accept the metaphor of other types of physical property, you can maintain that copyright violation is theft or even more unlikely, theft with violence (piracy). It then follows from the metaphor that you have to accept returns on the goods you have sold, and take whatever the user returns to you.

Re:Just one problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986868)

Upload it back to them?

Re:Just one problem... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987006)

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 work for digital goods and services too.

Probably worthless anyway (2, Interesting)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985974)

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.

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986206)

Fine by me, I'll just copy the file first.

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

sottitron (923868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986552)

If you are going to steal music anyway, why bother using an iTunes account? Also, do you really think Apple would let you buy and return lots of songs? I am sure they would suspend your account if you never actually buy and keep anything. They'd be idiots not to.

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986226)

*sets sound recorder to record from sound card instead of mic*

What's the problem again?

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986404)

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)

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986482)

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.

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986534)

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.

Re:Probably worthless anyway (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986642)

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.

What's the best Linux utility to get around iTunes (0, Offtopic)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985992)

What's the best Linux utility to get around iTunes DRM? (Just curious.)

Re:What's the best Linux utility to get around iTu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986518)

It's called a bittorrent client.

Re:What's the best Linux utility to get around iTu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986942)

I'm not aware of one. Most of the tools I know of to remove iTunes DRM need you have iTunes on the machine, and need for that machine be authorized to play the target file. In otherwords, they need iTunes to actually unlock it, then they just copy the unlocked content into a new file.

Since there is no iTunes for linux, this technique can't work.

If there is something that does the trick for linux, I too would love to know about it.

slippery slope (2, Interesting)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986020)

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.

Why is this about "iTunes"? (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:Why is this about "iTunes"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986454)

Uh, for one, because it wouldn't make sense with the model most subscription music services follow. Knock out subscription services, and what you have left is known in the mass media as iTunes. And that's a fairly accurate assessment.

then insist on return of the same exact bits (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986080)

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?

Unfair? (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986096)

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 this is entirely fair, not without a way of ensuring song has been truly returned.

Re:Unfair? (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986464)

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.

DRM (4, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:DRM (1)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986344)

Not impossible. A company can choose to trust the consumer "if you listen to this song and like it, you have to pay for it, please delete the song otherwise".

There are other instances where companies simply trust consumers: for example newspaper vending boxes in the US (honor box)

Re:DRM (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986446)

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 is just sort of stuck in the middle with no good options.

Re:DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986770)

My karma's going to go to hell for this


What the hell does this have to do with your stupid "karma"?

DRM'd if you do, DRM'd if you don't? (4, Insightful)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986162)

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.

Legislate the music companies first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986194)

It seems like the Europeans, either don't get it or just like picking on American companies rather then their own. The people they need to legisleate are the music companies. Legislate how they can license music for download, then once companies like Apple are in a position to change how they do business turn the screws on them. By targeting Apple and asking them to do more then they can, they are just forcing them out of the business. If you want apple to change, give them that power.

This will kill future non-DRM sales of music (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986198)

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.

Re:This will kill future non-DRM sales of music (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986296)

...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.

If so, they went the wrong way entirely. (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986516)

...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 of the system.

If they have to open it up to other vendors, someone out there is bound to have a faulty implementation that can be exploited to keep "free" music, and since it will be another vendor, they may not be able to force them to fix it in the necessary timeframe.

If anything, this looks like they want to shut down ALL downloaded music sales that are NOT DRMed. You try revoking an eMusic MP3, for example. Unless, of course, they only make iTMS adhere to this requirement.

Cooling Offer (1)

muonzoo (106581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986292)

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.

Slashdot... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986384)

News for nerds. Stuff posted at ArsTechnica.

Re:Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986908)

News for nerds. Stuff posted at ArsTechnica.

Don't be a twat. There's more than one news site on the web. They often report on the same stories, as those stories are considered to be news. While some sites compete to be first, others simply post the news and give us a place to discuss it.

Can't Be Done Without Copy Protection (4, Insightful)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986392)

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

Re:Can't Be Done Without Copy Protection (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986708)

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.
I love it. It is completely fair, technologically sound, and it forces everyone's hand to make a decision. It gives companies a reason to NOT offer DRM services: because the cost of implementing the technology + the lost money from phony returns would make it economically impossible. It also gives the big companies a way to dig their own graves -- if they mandate DRM, they will lose to the non-DRM services and have to bear additional costs.

"May" (4, Funny)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Cooling Off (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986630)

This is a bit absurd. Traditionally, a "cooling off" period has applied to large purchases that someone might have second thoughts about. It is intended to protect consumers from slick, high pressure sales tactics. Its to help little old ladies who wake up in the morning and realize they bought a timeshare condo in Mexico just because the nice man told them to. Rarely does anyone bolt upright at 02:00 and scream, "WTF was I thinking? I HATE Justin Timberlake! AHHHHH. Good thing I have that 7 day cooling off period to come to my sense and get my money back." It's not a concept that translates well to mundane, daily purchases. There is no cooling off period for cheeseburgers, beer, or *shudder* condoms. There certainly shouldn't be a cooling off period for digital goods, because whatever your take on DRM, you have to admit that pretty much nobody is honest enough to be trusted to erase all traces of a downloaded song they wanted to return due to having "cooled off".

Do you have to upload the song back? (4, Funny)

doroshjt (1044472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986666)

If i upload songs without a reciept can I get store credit?

Sign me up! (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986700)

1) Buy song. 2) Rip song (burn to CD, re-rip as mp3). 3) Return song for money back. Also known as "Profit."

Nice. I think we've found the middle step. Sign me up!

Digital Wear & Tear (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987060)

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?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?