Forced Interoperability? Not Yet, At Least Not From the EU

Finally a few words of reason bubble up in the ongoing European DRM debate.

The director general of Norway’s competition agency, Knut Eggum Johansen stated that

“The market for legally downloadable music files is emerging,” and that competition authorities may need to have a more “hands off approach”.

Additionally the director general of competition at the European Commission, Philip Lowe, said that he wanted to wait on tackling DRM, even though

“some member states believed there should be open access to all Web sites”.

Both statements of course are completely appropriate. The digital music market is just getting out of the starting blocks (it’s only a few percent of music sales). It’s too early to talk about dominance. This was exactly the line taken by the French courts when French provider Virgin Mega tried to force Apple to open up their DRM. And anyway, let’s not get too carried away with Apple’s s called dominance. Sure they’re the leading player but in many major markets they face very stiff competition. In Germany, for example, iTunes only declared itself the market leader after T-Online’s Music Load announced their sales figures – it emerged that iTunes was a narrow leader.

Interoperability needs to be tackled but
a) it souldn’t be a knee jerk reaction
b) it should be fairly aimed at the entire market, not just Apple…unless of course Europe wants to turn the digital music market into the Microsoft PlaysforSure Network Music Market