“French lawmakers are softening the language of a proposed law that would force Apple Computer and other companies that sell digital music to make their songs compatible with all the music players on the market. But the move is unlikely to quell concerns at Apple, making it very possible that the company will close its iTunes music store in France,” Arik Hesseldahl and Matt Vella report for BusinessWeek. “The Senate’s new version of the law is an effort at compromise. It offers extra government protections if digital-music companies are willing to share their technologies. Specifically, it calls for Apple and other companies to submit their DRM technologies — Apple’s is called Fairplay — to a government agency that will oversee digital copyright issues. In exchange, Apple and others would receive licensing fees and guarantees that their cooperation wouldn’t weaken copyright protection.”
“There’s also a provision in the Senate version that may allow Apple not to share its DRM at all. It could go to the digital copyright agency and make the case that its technology is not designed to protect Apple, but rather the musicians whose music it sells. The French are extremely protective of the “droit d’auteur.” If the agency agrees that Apple is simply protecting the Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, and other artists, it may not need to turn over the Fairplay software code,” Hesseldahl and Vella report. “The spectre of Apple shutting down the French outpost of its iTunes Music Store is very real. Apple hasn’t said as much publicly, but France’s portion of Apple’s music-download business accounts for less than 1% of the business unit’s worldwide revenue. A contentious new legal and regulatory environment would make it hardly worth the effort — let alone the increased cost — of keeping the French store open. Shutting down the French unit of the iTunes operation wouldn’t affect sales of iPods, however, nor of other Apple products. French consumers also would be able to continue downloading the iTunes software and using it with their iPods. They simply would not be able to buy music from the iTunes store.”
Much more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Mon Dieu! The law is passed. The law isn’t passed. The law’s been neutered. Not neutered enough. iTMS will close. No, it won’t. Maybe it will. And on and on and on…
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French copyright bill approved: Apple will not have to share FairPlay DRM details with competitors – May 11, 2006
French Senate vote could offer loophole for Apple’s iTunes – May 09, 2006
Vive l’iTunes! French ‘state-sponsored piracy’ DRM law gutted in committee – May 01, 2006
Force open Apple’s FairPlay? What has possessed the French this time? – April 27, 2006
French Trade Minister: Apple’s iTunes must play fair in French music market – April 14, 2006
JP Morgan: French DRM law will have limited impact on Apple Computer – March 28, 2006
Dvorak: What the French got right with proposed DRM law – March 28, 2006
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