French Approve Invasion Of Apple DRM

    March 21, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Lawmakers in France characterize the passage of an online copyright draft bill by the National Assembly as one that will permit customers to download songs from other music stores to iPods and make it even more appealing to Apple’s hardware customers.

French Approve Invasion Of Apple DRM
Apple Eyeing French Invasion?

Apple representatives have not yet responded to an AP report on the passage of the bill, which still must go through France’s Senate beginning in May.

The online copyright bill means companies like Apple, with its Fairplay DRM, and Sony and its ATRAC3 format, must open those schemes to competitors. This would permit third-parties to sell media players and digital downloads fully compatible to what have been tightly protected technologies; neither Apple nor Sony share their formats with outsiders.

The French feel that Apple has no need to worry, according to the article:

A spokesman for Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who backed the crucial amendments, dismissed suggestions that the bill would unfairly damage Apple.

“We’re targeting absolutely no one with this bill,” Paul Rechter said.

Rather, he said, the legislation is designed to discourage online piracy by offering additional legal ways for music players and online stores to work together.

“When this happens, iTunes will have the French government to thank for making it possible to draw so many Internet users toward legal platforms,” Rechter added.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs may not be in a thankful mood right now, and considering the mercurial executive’s history, it may be a long, cold, brimstone-smelling day in Cupertino before Jobs feels thankful.

Jobs has publicly battled the heads of major music labels over what he has called “greedy” requests for a multi-tiered pricing system on iTunes. One part of the report hints at the recording industry’s hand at work behind the scenes:

The new interoperability rules were welcomed in principle by recording companies, which have often complained that iTunes has deprived them of any control over music pricing.

“It is important to consumers to have the ability to move songs between their various listening devices,” said John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the International Federation of the Recording Industry.

There has been speculation that Apple will withdraw iTunes from France rather than yield the secrets of its FairPlay DRM to competitors. The likelihood of that won’t be known until Apple comments on the legislation.

UPDATE! Bloomberg reported that Apple has responded via email to the French decision:

“The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy,” Cupertino, California- based Apple said late yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers.”

“IPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with ‘interoperable’ music, which cannot be adequately protected,” Apple said. “Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy.”

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.