“New legislation in France would force Apple Computer to open the iPod and iTunes to competitors — and that’s a good thing for consumers, in the long run,” Leander Kahney writes for Wired News. “On Tuesday, the French parliament passed a law that would require digital content bought at any online store to be playable on any hardware. The law would be applicable to all hardware and service providers, but the immediate impact would be on Apple and iTunes, and may prompt the company to withdraw from France.”
“To many, France’s move seems patently unfair to Apple,” Kahney writes. “The company created the market for legal music downloads, why shouldn’t it dominate it? Why should the French government help competitors like Microsoft or Sony to get a foothold in a market they have proven incapable of competing in? And why should Apple be subject to antimonopoly legislation when rivals like Microsoft traditionally have not? To free marketers, it’s government meddling at its worst.”
“But French legislators aren’t just looking at Apple,” Kahney writes. “They’re looking ahead to a time when most entertainment is online, a shift with profound consequences for consumers and culture in general. French lawmakers want to protect the consumer from one or two companies holding the keys to all of its culture, just as Microsoft holds the keys to today’s desktop computers… Apple may not qualify as a literal monopoly — there are lots of ways to get music and buying online accounts for only a small fraction of total music sales. But the sliver it does control it controls almost completely, and it’s not out of the question to suggest that this sliver will ultimately become the only way people will buy music in the future.”
Full article here.
In the United States, at least, it is not illegal to build and have a monopoly; it’s illegal to abuse a monopoly. Ask Microsoft about that concept.
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Will Apple’s Steve Jobs bid France adieu? – 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