“The French National Assembly approved a digital copyright bill on Tuesday that will require DRM (digital rights management) developers to reveal details of their technology to rivals that wish to build interoperable systems. The bill could affect the FairPlay DRM used by Apple Computer Inc. in its iTunes Music Store and iPod music players, and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media DRM, used by rival French music stores Fnac.com and Virginmega.fr to lock downloaded tracks to particular music players,” Peter Sayer reports for IDG News Service. “Deputies voted to approve the bill, ‘Authors’ rights and related rights in an information society,’ by 286 votes to 193. The bill now goes to the Senate for a second reading [expected to begin in early May], and a vote, before it becomes law.”
Full article here.
“Apple has so far refused to comment on the bill or on analysts’ suggestions that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company might choose to withdraw from the French online music market rather than share the proprietary technology at the heart of its business model. Representatives for Apple France did not return calls Tuesday,” Laurence Frost reports for The Associated Press. “Under the bill, companies would be required to reveal the secrets of hitherto-exclusive copy-protection technologies such as Apple’s FairPlay format and the ATRAC3 code used by Sony’s Connect store and Walkman players. That could permit consumers for the first time to download music directly to their iPods from stores other than iTunes, or to rival music players from iTunes France.”
Full article here.
Earlier this morning, MacDailyNews reader “john” wrote us with an interesting idea. “The French can’t specifically force Apple to give up selling AAC files specifically, but it can force it to find a way to make its iPod [and iTunes Store] somehow interoperable with other [services and devices] in France. Apple could provide its French customers exclusively with a collection of its iTunes catalog in the MP3 format in addition to providing the same catalog in the AAC format (MP3’s with whatever DRM that may or may not be required as per the music labels desire, since the music labels seem to be ok with this new idea). And in the iTune’s download interface for French users only, allow they to choose whichever format they wanted- be it AAC or MP3. If Apple’s competitors wanted to sell files that worked seamlessly with the iPod, all they’d have to do is to provide those files in the MP3 format. Beyond that, everything else would remain exactly the same. In all the ways that matters, Apple would be in full compliance with the new French law, Apple’s competitors would still not have direct access to either FairPlay or the iPod, and there’d be nothing the French could do about it.
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