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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Anyone who thinks we shouldn’t have standards is foolish.

Almost everything is governed by a set of standards.  Hell if there weren’t standards of how the internet worked, then we probably wouldn’t all be enjoying this site or any other sites on the Internet.

Unfortunately for Apple at this point they have such a huge market share that imposing any standards will level the playing field and they will lose some of their share.

I don’t wish any ill will on Apple, and I honestly think it’s too early for gov’t imposed standards, but it’s definitely time for Apple to start opening up the iPod and iTMS to other companies.  Let other sites sell music that works on the iPod.  Sell iTMS songs so they work on other players.

If the iPod is as good as we all know it is, it will weather the storm and come out okay.  It won’t represent 97% of the market like it does now, but as the entire market expands (based on standards) Apple could still be the premiere force if they play it right.

Other things we use that have benefited from standards include…

MEDICINE get the idea.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on April 7, 2005 at 10:56 PM (CDT)


Corporations are actually concerned about DRM interoperability, and I know of at least one EC initiative to do something about it.
DRM is seen as neccesary by many businesses. Whether we need policy makers to ensure consumer rights, well, that is a democratic question. That is, it is up to us.

Posted by Otherland on April 8, 2005 at 2:17 AM (CDT)


Standards what are they you say

TV - I say Pal, NTSC and Secam.

VCR - Vhs and Betamax which didn’t go away as Sony only stopped producing machines two years ago.

DVD - for movies agreed but DVD+or -

email - pop or imap but agree

web browsers - do you mean how they work otherwise no as they all have their own ways of rendering html, look at a page with Int Exp firefox and safari. There are standards laid down by WC3 but as you may or may not know MS didn’t follow them.

Electrical outlets - I am assuming you don’t travel outside your native country. US runs on 120volts Europe 230volts France has differing plug sockets from Uk and Russia does with China and then there’s the voltage frequency US half the world runs on 60hz other half 50hz. The only standard is that you actually have an outlet to plug anything into.

Gasoline - leaded or unleaded, diesel but will agree

batteries - agreed

medicine - disagree differing standards what might be accepted in Europe might not be accepted in the US.

I can only assume that you are talking about the US market however the comapnies involved are global companies. Also many of your so called standards did not come about as a result of govt intervention apart from medicine.

Also stark23 said it there is no monoploy by Apple and if consumers were so bothered by it all would they have bought 15million iPods and counting. No one is forced to use ITMS and many of us just burn our CD’s.

Posted by mac daddy in United Kingdom on April 8, 2005 at 6:27 AM (CDT)


Mac Daddy-

Glad to see we agree on most of this stuff.  And glad you got the idea rather than flaming me.

I agree with you that many standards don’t come about from gov’t intervention and I stated above that I think it’s too soon for gov’t imposed standards.

Rignt now, Apple as a corporation is the only party with something at risk by standards being imposed.  They have a right to hold out as long as they can or want to, but as a consumer we would benefit greatly by a set of standards regarding DRM and formats.

These are global companies we are talking about and with digital music being such a new medium, maybe we could get a global standard.  But, even as you noted with TV the world is primarily broken into three different schemes (NTSC, PAL & SECAM).  I would rather have three global standards than several for every region of the globe.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on April 8, 2005 at 11:48 AM (CDT)


Actually, I agree that a standardization of DRM should happen if we are going to be forced to live with it. (I personally buy cds and encode myself but…)
The fact that a company can change the rules on something after you’ve purchased it is BS and should be regulated as it will surely continue without it.
As for what format and how it’s delivered/what its used on. The gov’t should stay out. Monopoly laws don’t apply here so they really have no say in the matter.

Posted by mscot on April 8, 2005 at 3:44 PM (CDT)


BTW, gasoline is heavily regulated.

Posted by mscot on April 8, 2005 at 3:45 PM (CDT)


I have no problem with open standards. However ‘open’ and ‘government’ are typically at polar opposites of one another.  I don’t see Congress doing anything that will truly open things up.

That said, I don’t have a problem with the concept of buying music from source A online and not having it tied to only using source A’s line of players.  After extended listening to what the PSP can do with a MP3 file (stunning), I know I’d rather have the choice of the best hardware for whatever music format I have, or at least have manufacturers be allowed have the option of building their gear to work with any media format they want to.

Proprietary, even in the form of an iPod, sucks. Open standards are best, period.

Posted by flatline response on April 9, 2005 at 1:26 PM (CDT)


A lot of politics to consider.  Jobs is known as a big Democratic contributor.  That could be partly what motivates Smith.

Berman is a Democrat but he has in the past represented the RIAA.  So maybe the record companies aren’t happy that one company dominates digital downloads?

iTunes sales are a fraction of CD sales.  Like maybe a couple of percent if that high.  So plenty of sources for music, regardless of which player you have.

Posted by wco81 in West Coast on April 9, 2005 at 6:18 PM (CDT)


Apple does not have a Monopoly because there are many other services out there, and I think eventually a DRM standard should be established but not until the difference in format really becomes a problem.

Posted by scottishfishes8 in Chicago, IL on April 10, 2005 at 12:06 AM (CDT)


This is an interesting subject.  Personally, and controversially I might add, I feel that since Appple got their (ahem) “stuff” together and got a legal music distribution system successfully working FIRST, that the other companies shouldn’t be able to complain about it.

You don’t see people compaining that the Ferrari intake manifold they purchased won’t fit their Honda Civic.  There are differences in things all around, get over it.

You don’t see Microsoft being encouraged to testify in front of Congress because Windows Media files won’t play on the MacOS either.

:::climbing off soapbox:::

Posted by Rob Mincey in Tulsa, OK on April 10, 2005 at 11:23 AM (CDT)

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