Lawmakers consider digital music file standard | iLounge News


Lawmakers consider digital music file standard

During a hearing Wednesday to discuss enforcement of digital music compatibility standards, a House panel said it does not want to force interoperability on the industry, but may have to consider actions in the future.

Lawmakers met in part because of “concerns that had been mounting about Apple’s overwhelming hold on the digital music market after the company altered its iPod and iTunes technology to prevent the playing of files downloaded from competitor RealNetworks’ Harmony system,” according to Elana Schor of the Medill News Service.

“Government intervention can probably prohibit innovation,” said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. “Consumers will choose interoperability over closed platforms” like the iPod.

Digital music subcommittee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was reportedly vocal in his skepticism of Apple’s closely guarded system, and was not happy that the company turned down an invitation to appear before his panel. “Generally speaking, companies with 75 percent market share of any business… need to step up to the plate when it comes to testifying on policy issues that impact their industry,” he said. “Failure to do so is a mistake.”

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Yay!  Get the government involved!  That will solve all problems.

The last thing we should do is let the market actually decide anything.


Posted by m. sherman on April 7, 2005 at 9:05 AM (CDT)


While they’re at it, why doesn’t the government force a standard on how digital music players look and work as well.  Since Apple has created the most sought after one, that will now have to be changed to make it less useable and more bulky.  It’s not fair to all of the other manufacturers!  This freaking rediculous!  Government people need to read Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by Lindan on April 7, 2005 at 9:17 AM (CDT)


No, Government people just need to read the U.S. Constitution.  It’s a wonderful document.  Shame it’s not used.

Posted by m. sherman on April 7, 2005 at 9:44 AM (CDT)


Obviously not. Hence the Fascist, I mean, Patriot Act.

>>>>No, Government people just need to read the U.S. Constitution. It’s a wonderful document. Shame it’s not used.

Posted by zumpp99 on April 7, 2005 at 9:55 AM (CDT)


Shouldn’t these guys be more concerned about out heathcare - or lack thereof - instead of our ipods?

Posted by jblakeh1 on April 7, 2005 at 10:13 AM (CDT)


That depends on what their gift-giving “interest groups”... I mean honest voters, think is more important - health care, or their industry that they can’t advance in, because they’re not as sharp as their competition.

If you can’t beat them fare and square in the market, you can either sue them, or whine to the government until they “fix” the industry so you win.  It just depends on who whines more / loudest / longest.

Posted by Geoffrey on April 7, 2005 at 10:21 AM (CDT)


I guess now that Terri Schiavo is finally resting in peace, the miscreants in Congress need a new issue to “rally around”...cleary Iraq, huge deficits, a weak economy, Social Security and 46 million children without health care aren’t quite as important as mandating a single DRM format…perhaps Bush will immediately fly back from Rome to sign the new legislation…and then when that doesn’t ultimately work, all the judges will be labeled as “activist judges” simply because Congress didn’t get the outcome they wanted on the issue.  this all
boils down to corporate interests, plain & simple.  I’m quite certain the 2 congress critters mentioned in the article couldn’t identify an MP3 player, iPod or otherwise, much less describe what they are for.

Posted by redsoxnation on April 7, 2005 at 11:03 AM (CDT)


Why would Apple appear? What do they have to fear from a government which slaps Microsoft on the wrist for tactics for more sinister than anything Apple has ever done?

Posted by JamesR on April 7, 2005 at 11:11 AM (CDT)


Seems a bit early for the government to get involved and impose standards, but ultimately some kind of standard should be in place.

If implemented too early a gov’t imposed standard could possibly hinder innovation, but a standard helps a medium mature and true competition to spread throughout a market.

When it’s all said and done I think Apple’s AAC/DRM could possibly serve as a standard since they seem to be the ones who really took this digital music stuff to another level.  I’m sure Apple would love this, Microsoft would hate this, but the consumer would benefit from the competition of a level playing field.

Posted by Talking Madness on April 7, 2005 at 11:32 AM (CDT)


“Seems a bit early for the government to get involved and impose standards, but ultimately some kind of standard should be in place.”

Why?  Just let the market decide.  Oh, wait, it has.  75% market share, in fact.

The only reason this is coming up is companies like Creative are whining to Congress because they can’t compete.  Why compete when you can get laws enacted to help your business model (or lack thereof)?  See RIAA for examples.

Posted by m. sherman on April 7, 2005 at 11:49 AM (CDT)


If Itunes was the only place where one could purchase an album, then this situation would be different. However, Itunes doesn’t have a monopoly on anything, the music can be purchases by other means. By this rationale alone I don’t see how the government has a right to interfere. The issue may be more compliacated, but that is how I see it at this point.

Posted by Jeff C. on April 7, 2005 at 11:55 AM (CDT)


The way I see it, there is a problem, to some extent, and, while I’m in no way qualified to make this statement, it is not yet a legal matter.  The problem, as I see it, is that apple makes superior (which, I’m sure is up for argument) products, on both the software side and the hardware side, which gives them an advantage (not unfair, just the way it is) over competition. 

If you think back to the beta/vhs times, you know that one of the technologies will inevitably fade away (and that appears to be wma’s right now), but that means that means that apple would have, basically, the whole market.  It would be like the person who decided to use VHS, also being the only person selling VCR’s that play and record with them.

Somebody, and they have to do it soon, has to come out with something which legitimately competes with either iTunes or iPods, or the whole market is going to suffer for it (as, arguably, can be seen by the fact that apple is no longer coming out with completely fresh ideas).

I know CD’s should, in theory, still play into this (being able to play on any platform), but there is a convenience in iTunes that CD’s can’t compete with.  Does anybody know what the percentage of people actually buying CD’s is to people buying music online?

But, this isn’t the fault of Apple, and they haven’t done anything illegal, or anything that should be able to be legislated against (wow, that is a heck of a sentence).  Ok, I’ll stop rambling now.

Please, somebody let me know a)if I’m making any sense or b) if I’m a complete moron.

Is there anything congress could do, in anyone’s opinion, to slow Apple’s growth, that would make sense, and be fair to all parties?


Posted by djfeld01 on April 7, 2005 at 12:31 PM (CDT)


Posted by dethbrakr on April 7, 2005 at 1:37 PM (CDT)


“Consumers will choose interoperability over closed platforms”

Really?  Try looking at the iPod sales, then say that again to my face.

Posted by SilentDeath911 on April 7, 2005 at 2:04 PM (CDT)


As much as we all hate to see competitors trying to use the government to stop Apple sales, I really wish Apple could get rid of the damn DRM…

Posted by chris21 on April 7, 2005 at 2:07 PM (CDT)


Wow, that is really, really, stupid…

I think the idiots in the government should keep their greedy hands out of it, they already steal too much from us…

Posted by pakkman781 on April 7, 2005 at 2:08 PM (CDT)


Apple SHOULD not be allowed to integrate software and hardware design together. That kind of business model makes it very difficult for poor Microsoft to control another “standard.”

Posted by Nagromme on April 7, 2005 at 3:05 PM (CDT)


Digital music subcommittee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas this guy is dangerous as he previously prososed that anticopying code be installed in all computer/consumer hardware.  You have to ask yourself who’s funding this guy and who’s lobbying him.  Doesn’t the senate have anything more important to look at such as Iraq, the war on global terrorism and the USA’s very large budget deficit and the economy, jobs, drug abuse, scholl killings, education, the build up of nucleur arms in the middle east, islamic fundamentalism. There you go plenty of subjects to hold meetings about, as for music file interoperability, is this what the electorate elected you to look at.

Posted by mac daddy on April 7, 2005 at 3:18 PM (CDT)


I’m split on this one. On one hand, you have iTunes with AAC DRM format that no other MP3 player can play straight off iTunes without having to manually try and circumvent their lockout by burning then re-ripping—not exactly the most pleasant thought, that is, IF the consumer is educated enough to know about this “loophole” to begin with. Otherwise they are stuck having to buy an iPod if they want an MP3 player that can play the AAC iTunes songs that they legally bought and paid for. That can be seen as a HUGE hinderance to the consumer and can be viewed by some as an “attempt” at a serious Apple/iTunes monopoly.

And on the other hand, I know that iTunes is NOT the only legal (and easily accessible) online music vendor so if people don’t want to be “forced” to use an iPod or have to circumvent the AAC DRM “lock-in” then they can easily use Napster, Rapshody, Real, and a host of other vendors.

It’s a very thin line that Apple is treading and depending on how you look at it, Apple could well have a “monopoly”... or not. All I know is that I, personally, don’t pay to download music at the iTunes Music Store even though I own TWO full sized iPods simply because of the low quality 128 AAC files (compared to what I use normally: EAC+LAME alt-preset) and the AAC DRM. I only downlaod the Free Tuesday songs. *shrug*

It’s all in how you look at it. If enough money is pumped into Congress by enough Apple competitors I’m sure Apple will be found guilty of a monopoly whether that’s true or not. Crooks and payoffs in the government aren’t new hat or shocking. It’s just freaking pathetic.

Posted by FallN on April 7, 2005 at 5:47 PM (CDT)


You knwo what?  I’m no fan of Apple, but can please explain to me what business it is of the Federal Governments?

There is no monopoly since you can get digital music elsewhere.  Until Apple buys all competitors and shuts them down…the government needs to STAY OUT OF IT.

Posted by stark23x on April 7, 2005 at 6:06 PM (CDT)

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