Apple calls proposed French DRM law ‘state-sponsored piracy,’ predicts iPod sales increase

“Apple Computer Inc. said on Tuesday a proposed French law that would force Apple to make sure that songs bought on its iTunes music store can work on any portable player would result in ‘state-sponsored piracy,'” Reuters reports. “‘The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy,’ said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. ‘If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers.'”

“The new legislation would require that online music retailers provide the digital rights management software that protects copyright material to allow the conversion of music in one format to another,” Reuters reports. “But Apple said the law, which it opposes, would likely actually increase its sales of iPod music players. ‘iPod sales will likely increase as users freely upload their iPods with ‘interoperable’ music which cannot be adequately protected,’ Kerris said. ‘Free movies for iPods should not be far behind.'”

The bill must now go to France’s Senate for a second reading [expected to begin in early May], and a vote, before it becomes law.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Too Hot!” for the heads up.]

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Related article:
French National Assembly approves digital copyright bill; could affect Apple’s FairPlay DRM – March 21, 2006


  1. Note that Apple didn’t complain about losing the iTunes/iPod exclusivity for online music.

    Apple has to look outraged that DRM could be legally cracked, because their contract with the music labels say that they must protect their tunes from being copied.

    From the article:

    But Apple said the law, which it opposes, would likely actually increase its sales of iPod music players. ‘iPod sales will likely increase as users freely upload their iPods with ‘interoperable’ music which cannot be adequately protected,’ Kerris said. ‘Free movies for iPods should not be far behind.’

    I think that Apple/Jobs is really for interoperability, as they chose AAC and not WMA as the basis for their tune format. DRM was imposed by the big music cartels.

    DRM, combined with the DMCA, enables a very strong lock-in between players/music stores/OSes. Microsoft, would have taken control of the market using the same lock-in, but the consequences would have been much worse, since MS controls the OS market, and would be declared the standard pretty quickly.

    So to compete, in this market where MS could use DRM to lock-in people into Windows, the only thing Apple could do to compete was to use the same lock-in techniques. Also, they couldn’t license to other stores, to avoid fragmenting their market against MS, which could have eaten other AAC Fairplay stores piece by piece.

    Sure Apple boosted their market share and made money because of the lock-in, but establishing iTunes as a viable alternative to WMP required that.

    Jobs is not dumb enough to think it can go on forever like this, but he’ll make his company reap the benefits of it. Sure interoperability is a good thing, everyone knows this.

    Apple is willing to let go the money to be made from the exclusivity scheme, if every competitor is also forced to be interoperable. That way MS couldn’t take control of the market through DRM format exclusivity.

    At the end of the day, Apple will have accomplished more by its presence in the market to open up DRM than people boycotting DRM all together. Maybe it was planned, maybe not, but whatever happens, we’ll be in a much better position than if MS had taken control of the music market.

  2. I wouldn’t believe Apple except that Boing Boing has actually said the same thing. If this law goes through, then Apple needs to give info about Fairplay to anyone building a music player, including open source companies. A DRM that is mandated to be available to anyone who asks for it is no DRM at all.

    So here’s the scenario: some anti-DRM company (like the one that I might start) says they’re building a music player; Apple is forced to give them Fairplay info; the company accidentally makes the info known to the world; France can’t prosecute because the company isn’t actually based in France. Then what? Apple has to change the code, and now not just through a simple update for their own players, but has to distribute the change to all the others who can use Fairplay. What a nightmare.

    The IFPI (music industry) actually supports this law. What dumbasses.

  3. French politicians always see a lucrative opportunity. Apple selling lots of iPods is one.
    Apple can easily solve this problem the French way – bribe the bastards!

    Bribing politicians is the only way things get done in France (and Europe). A few million Euros in bribes to the right politicians and this initiative is dead.

  4. I believe “State Sponsonred Piracy” was the reason King Philip II gave for attacking England with the Spanish Armada.

    Does this mean Apple will be setting sail for France with several thousand troops ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”big surprise” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Some of you seems to forget that Apple just like any other business is there just to make money, it is the only thing a company, be they a small office above Starbucks or a major global corporation, which Apple is, exists to do – make money.

    Personally I am all for consumer choice, which in my view the new French Law is based upon. That is the choice to use whatever device I have and use it the way I want to, be that to put my favourite Cd from any band I like on it or listen to an audiobook.

    All legally, and this is the crux, and to where the law in France has turned the clock back on what the iTunes Music/Media Store is about: piracy. Sure piracy itself will never disappear as mentioned above already.

    Although Apple oppose the law, they also have said that it might lead to higher sales of the iPod, as if its sales aren’t in danger of being minimal anyhow, it is only the record companies, also mentioned above that will be hurt by the French Law, arguably in many cases deservedly so.

    Perhaps Apple might decide to bring iRiver in as a media partner with iTMS, but with a twist in that iRiver owners would have to use a subscription service only or pay higher prices for music and video content. In other words “okay you can use that player, but it’ll cost you more and if you don’t want that then buy an iPod instead”.

    Some may say that iRiver would not agree to that, but since it is a lifeline to them I think they’ll have no choice but to accept Apple’s terms just so that iRiver can survive.

    In this case Apple would only be complying with the law and the law would not say how Apple should go about it, so iRiver would not be able to complain either.

    In the end all this will benefit the consumer, that’s you and me, folks!

  6. Bribe them- that´s how its done in France.

    Look at all the bribes French govt. officials took from Saddam Hussein. (Plus lots of other Europeans.)

    Did you know that the current leader of France, J. Chirac, has a pending investigation and possible trial because of alledged bribes he (and family members) and others took while he was Mayor of Paris? The investigation is on hold because French law won´t allow Chirac to be investigated while he is the President.

    Citizen of Earth – I live in Europe. You are the ignorant one here.

  7. Here´s how you do it with the French:;=/portal/2003/03/18/ixportal.html

    Story from 2003 – France poised for huge bribe scandal trial…
    Plus some tips learned from Saddam on how to work with the French:

    “Saddam ordered the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] and other ministries to improve relations with France, according to recovered documents. The documents revealed that the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] developed a strategy to improve Iraqi-Franco relations that encompassed inviting French delegations to Baghdad; giving economic favors to key French diplomats or individuals that have access to key French leaders;and assessing the possibilities for financially supporting one of the candidates in an upcoming French presidential election.

    Moreover, the IIS paper targeted a number of French individuals that the Iraqi’s thought had close relations to French President Chirac, including, according to the Iraqi assessment, the official spokesperson of President Chirac’s re-election campaign, two reported ‘counselors’ of President Chirac, and two well-known French businessmen. In May 2002, IIS correspondence addressed to Saddam stated that a MFA (quite possibly an IIS officer under diplomatic cover) met with [a] French parliamentarian to discuss Iraq-Franco relations. The French politician assured the Iraqi that France would use its veto in the UNSC against any American decision to attack Iraq, according to the IIS memo.

    The Duelfer report goes on to include specific information on Iraq’s French connection:

    Iraq gave 14 million barrels of oil to French businessman Patrick Maugein, whom it considered “a conduit to French President Chirac.”

    “In 1988, Iraq paid $1 million to the French Socialist party, according to a captured IIS report dated 9 September 1992. Abd-al Razzaq Al Hashimi, former Iraqi ambassador to France, handed the money to French defense minister Pierre Joxe, according to the report. The IIS instructed Hashimi to ‘utilize it to remind French Defense Minister, Pierre Joxe, indirectly about Iraq’s previous positions toward France, in general, and the French Socialist party, in particular.'”

    Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz “says he personally awarded several French individuals substantial oil allotments. According to Aziz, both parties understood that resale of the oil was to be reciprocated through efforts to lift UN sanctions, or through opposition to American initiatives within the Security Council.”

    Participants in the Oil-for-Food scam also included the French oil companies Total and SOCAP, businessman Michel Grimard, and the Iraqi-French Friendship Society, according to the Duelfer report.”

  8. Since my comments on this already have been posted in a past article. My opinions on that matter can be summed up by two legendary on screen geniuses, Harry and Lloyd, in “Dumb and Dumber”. About Apple’s chances to come out of this okay…..

    “Oh, I dunno, Lloyd, the French are assholes.”

  9. It does irritate me when people say DRM is bad because it’s just a way for the record companies (et al) to leach of the talent. That’s crap, DRM is about making sure people pay for something, it’s why shops have staff and tags and cameras – how many record shops do you see that are empty and rely on you paying for things on the honour system? None. If an artist don’t want the companies making money off them then they don’t have to sign for them, go it alone, you don’t have to have a record deal.

    Of course if DRM is overtly restrictive then it is a bad thing but there is nothing wrong with a company, or artist protecting themselves. If music wasn’t DRM’ed does anyone honestly believe that people will continue to pay for it? Bollocks. Unfortunately people aren’t that honest.

    Open DRM is also rubbish, if everyone can get hold of a copy of a key it becomes pointless having the lock. Ultimately it should be some not for profit organisation who controls one DRM scheme and licenses it fairly to legitimate retailers.

    Unfortunately it’s not a simple situation, the transition to non-physical sales of products is so different that conventional rules don’t work.

    Personally I feel that if apple have to allow other people to load Fairplay music onto their machines then other formats should have to work (or be able to work if licensed) on the iPod and in order to do that the music would have to be accessible on every machine that the iPod works on – which means Mac. Of course the choice to make available any format on a player is down to the manufacturer, but if apple have to give others the Fairplay option then Microsoft have to give apple the Playsforsure option on Mac.

    Of course what this boils down to is that for apple, even if Microsofts format was better, they wouldn’t be able to use it because it’s not mac and if they allowed the iPod to play something that couldn’t be used on their own computers it would rule out any potential iPod halo at all.

  10. How can it be piracy when the law just makes DRM more interoperable? Surely it is another step along the road to defeating piracy as it elimnates one of the competitive advantages of piracy – the ability to play on any device.

    Those who diss France do not realise that they are the main driver in Europe. This will be Euro wide soon.


    The FACT is, before DRM piracy was at an all time high, the music business was getting hurt SUBSTANTIALLY by that, and ARTISTS WERE NOT GETTING PAID. It is stealing, simple and plain, from business people and from artists that work their asses off to bring you music. Really it’s the worst kind of stealing. And has anyone EVER felt restricted by Apple’s DRM? Gimme a break.

  12. DRM is evil. If Apple really was against the DRM, they would announce that its not their decision, but the RIAA’s. Maybe it was, initially. But Apple has tasted the spoils of DRM and there is no way they will drop it now without a fight. Why?

    Simple. DRM is vendor lock-in. Plain and simple. Because of Fairplay, if you buy from iTMS, there is only one player that will play the music. The iPod. And on the iPod, there is only one online store that is compatible with it. iTMS. Just imagine if the RIAA came to its senses and dropped their demands for DRM. All of a sudden, I could purchase music from any online store and play it on my iPod. And I could purchase music from any online store and play it on any mp3 player. Apple would be forced to do away with DRM.

    It doesn’t matter that Apple’s DRM allows you to make 5 copies of your music. It still forces restrictions on what you can buy. Plain and simple.

  13. Is it not the case that the DRM is only physically added by iTunes at the moment of download, but not before? I think it is. So .. iTunes stops adding DRM in France, perhaps?

    Honest guys, we didn’t want to do this but French law made it so we had no other viable choice?

  14. Apple is saying that the absence of DRM will increase their botton line…but will hurt content providers. The are doing an honorable thing by sarcrificing iPod sales to help protect artists.

    iTunes style DRM helps generally honest people stay more honest instead of a free for all. It’s just enough to keep the art going.

    As an independent artist I love what Apple has done. If you are so upset about DRM, yet want to be legit, then simply buy the DRM version from the iTunes store, then download the ‘free’ version from the “bad” sites and put that on the iPod. That way you can have all the freedom you want with “your” music.

    I wonder how long it would be that you stopped paying all together?

    I general I don’t like copy protection, but Apple’s DRM policy is very very painless,yet effective.

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