Apple’s options if French law forcing DRM interoperability passes

Lawmakers in France are considering a law that would, among other things, force Apple to open its FairPlay DRM, making the iPod and iTunes interoperable with other music players and online music outfits.

The Associated Press outlines Apple’s options if the law passes:
1. Apple could look for technical solutions to comply with the new law in France while maintaining its format exclusivity elsewhere. Sales from iTunes sites are already restricted to local markets using credit card details. But preventing newly interoperable iPods from being used outside the ‘walled garden’ would be much harder — although shipping them with French-only software could help.
2. Apple could simply drag its feet over compliance and wait to be sued. Court proceedings are long, damages relatively light, and class action lawsuits are impossible in France. Apple might figure that iPod + iTunes profits would dwarf the penalties it could face.
3. Apple could withdraw from France, Europe’s third-largest music download market, or threaten to withdraw while seeking a change in the law.

Full article here.

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Related articles:
French law that would force Apple to open iTunes Music Store to non-iPod devices far from settled – March 17, 2006
If passed, French law would force Apple to open iTunes Music Store to non-iPod devices – March 15, 2006
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. Well, couldn’t Apple also meet any legal obligation arising from the proposed law by just licensing the use of FairPlay DRM software or iTunes to other select companies selling mp3 players in France? Or license the use of other DRM software for use on French-sold iPods only?

  2. Let them buy Zens. Block all French telco IPs. If they want to live in a bubble let them. Boycott France. It’s all about the bottom line. If USA boycotts their products in the USA, then they take their law and rip it up.

  3. Does not anyone get this right?

    From what I have read (through several sources, though I must admit my French is quite rusty) of the details of the law, it (the proposed law) in absolutely no way forces Apple (or anyone else for that matter) to supply competing formats or media without DRM attached. Neither Apple nor anyone else will be forced to provide media for other systems. (Where would you draw the line? If a small French company were to start building, shipping and selling some device that only played some obscure format with an even more obscure DRM attached would every media provider have to make all their available media [every song, every video, etc.] in that format too?)

    As I understand the proposed law (which looks like it won’t pass anyway as opposition appears to be mounting against it), it merely makes it legal to strip DRM off the media without penalty if the stripping is only for personal use so you can play the content on your player which does not support the original DRM. (There are also provisions in the law for specific penalties if you do this for some other reason than for purely personal use.)

    This in no way will force Apple to change the way it does business in France.

    What **MIGHT** happen is the music and movie industries *may* go to Apple and all the other major content distributors and pressure them to stop selling in France. The only people that **MIGHT** be hurt are the law, if it is enacted, are the music and movie industries and other content generation groups. If they continue to provide content to Apple, Napster, Real, etc. then Apple and the others won’t have an issue with this law if it is enacted. I doubt these groups will stop providing content to Apple, etc., but in theory they could could.

  4. I predict Apple would withdraw or threaten too if the law is passed. Therefore leaving the french with no music download choices for those who own an iPod. It may cause another french revolution who knows. I seriously doubt Apple would even consider the first two choices at all. There within there rights to use the technology they developed since the record companies said they would not let them sell the music without DRM. So the French should go after the record companies since there the ones inforcing the DRM for there music.

  5. Don’t you see what is happening? This is just the beginning, first france makes these demands, then once they win, eventually Microsoft will start dumping money into trials all over the world to force Apple to lose grip over the music industry. This can’t be a good thing. Apple may have no choice but to withdraw. Whatever they do, opening the DRM or Licensing it will only concede defeat to Microsoft and it will be yet another closed and crappy Microsoft victory.

  6. Wrong!! let the French iPod users get off their asses and show their support. If not, they can go across the border and use internet cafes to get their music.

    Are members of the French govt being paid by Apple competitors?

  7. Just don’t do a French version. Doesn’t prevent French people from buying over the internet. Easy, just don’t restrict by country. Allow iTunes users to access ANY countrys store, not just their regional one (which is the way it should be anyway).

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