BusinessWeek: still very possible that Apple will close iTunes Music Store in France

“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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Related articles:
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


  1. i think a lot of this would be apple speaking on behalf of the music companies, they are who insist on the drm in the first place and if apple were forced to open up then itunes would lose all the deals in france and possibly elsewhere due to contracts

  2. “Shutting down the French unit of the iTunes operation wouldn’t affect sales of iPods, however, nor of other Apple products.”

    Not strictly true, since the entire purpose of the iTMS is to bolster iPod sales. So if Apple does decide to pack it in, it will be because the costs of dealing with the French law are higher than the loss in profits from both the iPod sales and the iTMS.

  3. I miss the good ole days when we talked about porn on iPods and we could laugh at Crystal.

    Now we’re over-run by ameriphobes. Ah well, at least it’s entertaining.

    Counting down to the first anti-american rant.

    3….. 2….. 1……

  4. Not strictly true, since the entire purpose of the iTMS is to bolster iPod sales.

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The iPod is the must have digital music player. The absence of a download service will do little to slow sales. The overwhelming majority os sogns on iPods are ripped from owned CDs. That will continue to be the prime source of music of iPods into the foreseeable future.

  5. Who cares? I don’t buy any music from the Music Store since Apple stopped me from burning my purchases with Toast. Plus, the 128 bit rate is inadequate for much of my music. I love iTunes but the store sucks. Just but the CD at Amazon.

  6. Why are the French ‘extremely protective of the “droit d’auteur.”‘ of the Rolling Stones and other musicians, who write songs, and not the “droit d’auteur” of Apple, who, among other things, write computer programs? I hope Apple does close the iTMS if this legislation gets passed.

  7. Jake… ahhhhh.. the good old days.

    We used to be able to count on crystal to come in and post her victorian rants on any thread that closely resembled morality. It’s been about a year since she posted. Since she and MacDude have disappeared it’s gotten pretty tame here on MDN, unless you want to talk about politics or the french.

  8. Making a periodic ruckus serves a purpose for the French as it assures keeping international attention drawn to their culture, their language and their country. National identity and recognition are very important to the French and If I was a French citizen I would probably think that way too.

  9. Ok… finally…. Apple will not be withdrawing from the French market. Not now, nor anytime in the future. BusinessWeek does not understand the dynamics of this market sector. iTunes+iPod, together are the tools to leverage a higher market share in every market Apple enters – and France’s population, at just under 60 million is a huge potential market. No sane company is going to hobble its operations in a market as big as that.

    I used to live in France and iPods are the most popular ‘mp3’ device there – by a huge margin, but their share of the Mac market is smaller than in the US or UK. And iTunes+iPod are one of the vehicles by which Apple will increase its influence in other European markets. It’s no coincidence that the first Apple store in Europe opened in London and not Paris or elsewhere.

    Remember, the European Union is a much, much bigger potential marketplace that the US and if they are to take on a firmly entrenched Microsoft [with the new Intel chips] and win big, they will not ignore the EU with its population of 450 million – half as big again as the US!

    Plus, Apple actually have the European Commission on its side [metaphorically], with the EU’s attack on the monopolistic character of Microsoft and its software. Trust me, Apple will want to take advantage during MSFT’s battle with EU laws on monopoly. It’s a gift of an opportunity – and Jobs will not pass it by.

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