If passed, French law would force Apple to open iTunes Music Store to non-iPod devices

“Take a complicated issue such as copyrights in the Digital Age. Throw in a generous helping of French politics and stir it with a dash of socialist ideology. The resulting concoction might not taste very good to executives of Apple Computer, and indeed could force the computer maker to change the way it does business in the Fifth Republic,” Arik Hesseldahl writes for BusinessWeek. “On Mar. 16, France’s National Assembly is expected to vote on legislation known as the author’s rights law. Among its many provisions, the bill calls for lightening the punishment on unauthorized downloads of copyrighted music.”

“If passed — which some say is unlikely — the legislation would also require digital music vendors like Apple, Vivendi Universal, and Virgin Megastores, which all operate music-download services in France, to sell music that is compatible with all media players. This provision would hit Apple particularly hard because the computer maker sells music that is compatible only with its own iPod player,” Hesseldahl writes.

“Apple doesn’t give a geographic breakdown of the results of its iTunes or iPod operations. Its overall European division reported a $174 million operating profit on sales of a little more than $1.2 billion in the most recent quarter. Apple sold more than 14 million iPod players around the world and 387,000 of its Macintosh computers in Europe in the same period. In February, Apple said it had sold 1 billion songs via its iTunes store over the course of its three-year history, though it hasn’t said how many of those were in France, home to 62 million people,” Hesseldahl writes. “If passed, the author’s rights law would be a hazard of doing business in the land of liberte, egalite, and fraternite — or in the case of Apple, a good reason not to.”

Full article here.
Yesterday, we covered an Agence France-Presse report that said that lawmakers from France’s ruling conservative party have blocked a move to legalize Internet downloading of movie and music files, after several days of sharp debate in parliament. We’ll have to wait for the official vote tomorrow to know for sure.

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Related articles:
Law that could have forced Apple to open iTunes Music Store to non-iPod devices blocked in France – March 14, 2006
French law would force Apple to open iTunes Music Store to non-iPod devices – March 13, 2006


  1. Stupid. No wonder why France sucks. Seriously, after their dealings with Iraq, you have to wonder what else they are up to. Perhaps something with Iran? China?

    France sucks.

    MDN Magic Word: “Although” as in “Although…France does have some nice wines”

  2. France sucks ? “..after dealings with Iraq…”
    WTF ? Please do your history. How many years ago is it since Saddam was a friend an an alied of USA ? Please tell me you know… I guess you say “freedom-fries” too …

  3. Apple would pull the iTunes Music store out if they do pass that law. I’m sure the record industry would demand Apple do so if this law was passed. Either way the french won’t get free rain to iTunes.

  4. Please, folks, no France bashing again. This is about our rights as consumers. The law will allow people to strip the DRM on their legally purchased music and to translate the music files into other fomats, i.e. .wma to AAC or vice versa. Meaning, if you have an iPod and some small MP3 player, you won’t have to purchase the music twice. That’s all.
    And, my dear American friends, you owe the French your Liberties, both the independence from Britain and the statue.
    No, I’m not French.

  5. Serious question. How much revenue would be lost? Especially since they are talking about the French iTMS, not the sale of iPods. This sounds like a toothless bluff (see below). If not, big loss? Probably not.

    ” rel=”nofollow”>French law would force Apple to open iTunes Music Store?

  6. Apple lawyer to French Judge: “Your honor, you can already play any iTunes purchased song on any other player. Let me demonstrate. What song would you like me to purchase from the iTunes Music Store? Surrender by U2, hmm, intersting choice. OK, so here I buy it, download it, burn it to a CDR, rip the song from the CD using Windows Media Player and tranfer it to this crappy Creative NOMAD mp3 player. See, you can do it already. No need to change anything.” Fini!

  7. Simple solution: sell non-protected AAC files (oh, alright, MP3 for compatiblity). Of course, since the record labels won’t like that, the only songs for sale will be French songs; but hey, the French artists would like that, right?

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