Dvorak: What the French got right with proposed DRM law

“So France doesn’t like the idea that Apple and the iPod and iTunes are intertwined with a proprietary structure that has no way for any other player/music download service to compete. The French say that Apple must either open the kimono, as it were, or be banned. Apple thinks it may as well walk away from France,” John C. Dvorak writes for PC Magazine. “Screw those French!”

“The French are also skeptical about the whole movie-piracy phenomenon. Why should illegally downloading the equivalent of a $19 disc result in a $250,000 fine and 5 years in prison? Shoplifting a $100 item from a store—which is tangible and real—has fewer consequences. Does this make any sense to anyone? The French don’t think so. Illegally copying movies or downloading should be like a traffic ticket—perhaps a $100 fine. Now they are being accused of ‘encouraging’ piracy. How’s that? $100 is a lot of money,” Dvorak writes. “The American tendency to prioritize poorly seems to be thematic. It took yet another new twist when a get-tough stance against Wi-Fi poaching cropped up in Illinois. Yes, forget burglary, where someone steals something tangible. Instead, we need to bust Wi-Fi poachers… Law enforcement should not be wasting the taxpayers’ money looking inside every car where they see some guy sitting reading a newspaper, in hopes of finding a Wi-Fi poacher… I’m moving to France.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Alan” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: France’s idea of making the penalty fit the crime might be sound, but the proposed law would unfairly penalize the one company that worked and built their business to market dominating levels while also rewarding all of the also-rans for failure. We can see how that idea might sound good to a socialist in France, but it hardly strikes us as a good deal for Apple. What is the impetus to create successful businesses in France, if the government makes a habit of throwing all of your hard work out the window to the benefit of those who couldn’t compete on a level playing field? Apple should pull the plug on France if the proposed law ever actually does get enacted as written today.

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Related articles:
Will Apple’s Steve Jobs bid France adieu? – March 22, 2006
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 don’t really get what all the fuss is about. I’m sure the only reason itunes has DRM on it is to satisfy the stupid record companies. itunes will still be used by everyone as it’s (a) the best and (b) works the best with ipods that everyone’s got.

  2. Dvorak is a three strike looser. He is biased, somewhat clueless (or he makes it seem so) and has no journalistic integrity at all (ie a yellow journalist in that he will write anything inflammatory, true or not, just to attract attention to his otherwise dull, lifeless and virtually useless column.)
    Considering his history, why does anyone put any value or weight on anything he writes?

    MW income… how do they do that?

  3. dvorak is right on with this….btw, he doesn’t express any opinion on the substance of the proposed French law vis-a-vis Apple, so no need to “go there” …

    I also have never figured out the “record label” economics of the “value” placed on the illegal download either; given that the labels will “give away” access to their entire catalog for a subscription fee of $10 per month, but yet scream that $.99 per track/$9.99 isn’t enough for a non-subscription service.

  4. “What is the impetus to create successful businesses in France, if the government makes a habit of throwing all of your hard work out the window to the benefit of those who couldn’t compete on a level playing field?”

    I don’t see any the editors of this site complaining when The European Union goes after Microsoft. Why should Microsoft pull WMP out of XP?

  5. Yeah! Dvorak is moving to France! I hope he takes MacDude, Macaholic (spell that right?), the guy who is so lame they sometimes post as “me” too, and the OTHERS with him!

    Seriously, Dvorak may be right that the fine for a single stolen digital track is way out of whack considering the fines fro physical theft, but law enforcement isn’t busting the low volume user, they are busting the distributors and those fines really add up so the plea bargain still has some weight.

  6. The French idiots need to work harder for living. Apple worked harder and faster than anybody else to create and invent methods for making our lives easier whether it be just a simple computer user interface or the way we listen and buy entertainment, news, opinions, movies, etc.

    They want to make everyone and everything (i.e. MP3 players) ‘equal’ with a stupid socialist policy. Of course they do! Because they haven’t made or thought of anything worth a damn for the last 100 years…

    They don’t want Apple….a prototypical American rebel….taking over their entertainment/media industry. Fine, impose an iPod tax, break open their DRM, ban English, and connive to be a US counterweight.

    Apple doesn’t need you, US doesn’t need you…you are historically, geopolitically and economically irrelevant. Dvorak can immigrate to France, sip a glass of Beaudox, listen to his iRiver (music via iTunes), and ponder about the future of DRM and OSes, while Apple keeps on cranking stuff (because I have no idea what they have in their little bag) out to the world…not to sell and make money, but to change the world!!!!

  7. Pulling the plug on France is probably not the best idea for Apple in this situation. If Apple withdraws from France then a weakness to the iPod/iTunes homogeony has been found and can easily be exploited. If Apple’s answer to this problem is to withdraw, then other countries-the US included-can pass similar laws. If they do, Apple will withdraw from those countries and that would effectively remove iTunes from the game. Of course, all the piss poor also-rans with their complicted and narrow minded Microsoft-thinking will think this is great but it would be a TERRIBLE loss for the consumer. We Mac users in our utopia would have no access to these alternate services (as if we’d ever want them anyway), they’d be overly complicated-as all Microsoft-centric services are-and the world would be that must less of a blissful place because of it.

    Apple, please find a good solution…don’t withdraw. Buy France, toss the bill, pass a new bill which makes all non-Apple computers illeagle to use and posess (under penalty of death), and start the wave of a more happy Apple-centric life.

    MDN Magic Word “required” as in Apple should not be required to open their service when they’re not abusing their position.

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