Will Apple’s Steve Jobs bid France adieu?

“French lawmakers want all digital-music players to adopt common software standards. Is this Jobs & Co.’s cue to pack up its iPods and bid the country adieu? The French have done it again. In an attempt to update copyright laws for the 21st century, lawmakers in France have thrown a giant spanner in the works of the nascent online digital music business. Late on Mar. 21, the lower house of the legislature, the Assemblé National, passed a law that will require sellers of digital-music players and online music services in France to open up their technical standards and become entirely interoperable,” Arik Hesseldahl writes for BusinessWeek.

“The law, passed by the National Assembly by a vote of 296 to 193, requires companies that sell digital-music files in France to open up their digital rights management systems so that the files can be played on any device. The law, if ultimately enacted, may set the stage for Apple to shut down its digital-music sales operations in the country, though Apple hasn’t said one way or the other if that is the case,” Hesseldahl writes. “Apple has sold more than a billion songs worldwide since launching the online service in 2003. But its songs are playable only on the ubiquitous iPod portable music player.”

MacDailyNews Note: iTunes Music Store songs are also playable on any Mac or Windows personal computer. You do not even need an iPod to purchase and listen to music from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. As has always been the case, purchased songs can be burned to music CD and imported into any device.

Hesseldahl continues, “…The nuclear option: Pull iTunes out of France entirely. The potential of boosting sales of iTunes downloads, on which Apple makes only a few pennies, at the cost of losing sales of iPods, on which Apple can make a 50% margin, isn’t much of a business trade-off. ‘Remember that the iPod drives iTunes downloads, not the other way around,’ says Michael Gartenberg, analyst with Jupiter Research in New York.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Wired’s Kahney: Proposed French copyright protection law a good thing for consumers in the long run – March 22, 2006
Apple calls proposed French DRM law ‘state-sponsored piracy,’ predicts iPod sales increase – March 21, 2006
French National Assembly approves digital copyright bill; could affect Apple’s FairPlay DRM – March 21, 2006


  1. I played iTunes music for years without an iPod — only got one when it sprouted video abilities. Pleased I did, but too soon before.

    Either way, do the French lawmakers actually ‘get’ the playing options with iTunes?

    Maybe MDN should go tell them…

  2. It is amazing to me that these idiot politicians cannot see the eventual outcome of this action. France seems to be populated by children these days. And I don’t mean that as a broad insult. It just seems that their lawmaking actions are naive an based on petulance rather than logic. Look at the riots that have been going on over a law that loosens regulations for hiring, paying and firing younger workers. The unions are going berzerk and rioting because employers shouldn’t be allowed to fire anyone without an act of the National Assembly. Great food and wine, beautiful country, but their politics are nuttier than ours.

  3. DJ-

    Sadly, lawmakers rarely understand what they are doing when they craft a law. Consider the numerous recent American examples of bad laws: the Drug plan, the Bankruptcy bill.

    American copyright law is considered to be badly out of date.

  4. Not to be mean but it’s about time. Apple should open up fairplay to other companies in both software and hardware market. Apple has a monopoly like MSFT and is controlling it just as tightly as MSFT does.

    of course no other software company is going to have the simple interface, or work as well as iTunes/iPod, so I don’t think either will go anywhere.

    And iTunes music, isn’t playable on any other portable player. the iPod may be the best but it isn’t alone nor should it be. i thought we lived in a captialist society yet I guess I was wrong.

  5. Either way, do the French lawmakers actually ‘get’ the playing options with iTunes?

    This is what you get when a socialist government tries to interfere with the free operation of business competition. They will always enact a law that has the exact opposite result they intended. That’s because government can’t control economies. At best they can only influence them.

    Better the French socialists work to dismantle the French socialist economy and allow people to get back to work.

  6. Spark:

    You might want to edjumacate yourself a little gooder about those protests. They are happening because the bill, which takes effect next month, “allows employers to fire workers younger than 26 in the first TWO YEARS on the job, without citing a reason”:


    If I was under the age of 27 and living in France, I’d be protesting a ridiculous law like that. Would you?

  7. Mac-Yak,

    If I’m a private employer, and as long as its not a “discriminatory” firing (based on race, religion, etc) why shouldn’t I have the right to fire somebody who works FOR ME for whatever reason I want? Why should they have a legal shield that prevents me from getting rid of the “dead wood”?

  8. And always have been. They are contrarians of the worst kind, mostly being different just to be different.

    They are also the type that talk a good game, but fail or cave-in when the going gets tough. Want a good laugh? Type in French Military Victories on a Google Search and then hit the I’m Feeling Lucky Button.

    The French are expert at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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