January 28, 2006 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Similar to the US Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Council of Norway, or Forbrukerrådet (PDF) strives "to achieve a balance of power between the consumer and the provider of products or services." This week, the council filed a formal complaint, citing several violations of Norwegian law in the fluid terms of service attached to iTunes music file downloads.
posted by Rothko (9 comments total)
Damn socialists, don't they know that corporations are always right? /snark

In this case, it seems like it should be simple enough for Apple to modify their TOS for Norway only, unless it will cause problems with their record label contracts.

Has Norway ever challenged/changed/restricted shrinkwrap licenses on boxed software?
posted by D.C. at 1:57 AM on January 28, 2006

Damn socialists, don't they know that corporations are always right? /snark

It's hard selling a 21st century product in an 20th century country.
posted by three blind mice at 2:48 AM on January 28, 2006

The complaint goes beyond the terms of use. It also challenges the DRM technology used, and Apple's assertion that English law applies to the transactions (since they assert that the Website in question is only available in Norwegian).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:33 AM on January 28, 2006

It's hard selling a 21st century product in an 20th century country.

omg burn u go girl
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 3:58 AM on January 28, 2006

It's hard selling a 21st century product in an 20th century country.

That may be, but no one's forcing Apple to do business there. If they can't successfully challenge this or work out a compromise, tough. If there is a demand for this type of service in Norway, it leaves an opportunity for others companies to create services which comply with the law.

If Norwegian citizens are unhappy about the consumer protection laws and/or their effect on the availability of foreign products, they can work to change their government.
posted by D.C. at 6:01 AM on January 28, 2006

It's hard selling a 21st century product in an 20th century country.

I'm pretty sure that Norway has better living standards and are also more educated than America and Americans.
posted by j-urb at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2006

U.S. policies tend to get forced on the rest of the world thru trade agreements. For this reason and for the sake of US citizens themselves it would be very desirable to have some similar principles in USA.

If you're a US-ian, take a look at the so-called "agreement" imposed by your credit card issuer. In all probability there's an "arbitration clause". In order to do business with them, you have to give up the right to have disputes resolved by the judicial system or according to the law. This trick is now being picked up by other sellers now, in industries where the product or service is much in demand and there is little competition. Watch for it, I'm telling you it will spread and expand.

In some European countries, in contrast - in Germany at least, if I'm not mistaken - there is a law that customers cannot be required to give up basic Constitutional rights as a condition of commercial transactions. Does anyone in USA notice or care about this issue? There is certainly a remarkable silence about it in the major corporate media.

The notorious "shrinkwrap EULA" is another example (as D.C. points out in the first post). Even the concept is offensive to many people. Yet this is given such status in our legal systems that it can lead to "kick down the door" type of raids by what amount to private police forces, with government approval. "Terms of service" in general are becoming more onerous and the political climate is tending away from placing any limits on them.

Meanwhile the DMCA allows copyright holders to restrict the set of rights given to a purchaser of a copyrighted work , to less than it would be under copyright law; and it restricts freedom of speech. And the "loser pays" rule in civil suits means that parties of greater wealth can enforce virtually any "settlement" on an unfinanced individual without regard to law or facts, simply by economic coercion.

Yes, I know all this is familiar to most here, I just wanted to list it all together to make a point. It doesn't take much extrapolation to see that if this trend continues, we will all be serfs to corporate entities in the long run, like medieval peasants. Feudalism is really the domestic side of fascism.

Anyone who dismisses this with a "tin foil hat" remark or one of those stupid "you don't have to agree to the contract" arguments will regret it sooner or later.

Excuse me for ranting.
posted by jam_pony at 7:34 AM on January 28, 2006

It's hard selling a 211st century product without attempting to curtail the 20th century rights of consumers.
posted by juiceCake at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2006

The minute that any corporation thinks it's doesn't have to adhere to the laws of another country in order to still do business there... is trouble. Good for Norway for standing up for it's citizens. I don't have any hate against Apple, but I think it's very possible to co-exist peacefully between capitalism and consumers as long as things are regulated by overseeing bodies, as Norway is doing now.
posted by MJ6 at 3:06 AM on January 29, 2006

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