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French Parliament Fights iPod and iTunes 323

Posted by Zonk
from the to-the-pain dept.
f00lforb00l writes "According to an article in New York Times, the French parliament is considering legislation which would require that the iPod also be able to use music from services other than the iTunes Store." From the article: "The outcome of the debate, which began as an update to French copyright law, is far from clear. But taken to one logical conclusion, amendments to the copyright bill could lead Apple, the market leader, to leave the French music business, said Jonathan Arber, a research analyst in London at the technology consultancy Ovum. 'My gut feeling is that Apple will simply pull out of France if these amendments get through,' Mr. Arber said. 'Weighed against breaking their business model for all markets, it doesn't make sense for Apple to continue operating with the iPod and iTunes in France.'" Update: 03/17 15:46 GMT by Z : A previous story covering this topic may also be of interest to you. Sorry, folks.
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French Parliament Fights iPod and iTunes

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  • Pulling out of the French market could cost Apple two, maybe two and a half percent of their iTMS revenues.

    -jcr
    • by Tim C (15259) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:37AM (#14941835)
      Well, I'm not really up on this sort of thing, but could not France then take its case to the EU, and petition the EU to bring a similar case?

      Pulling out of France might not be too painful, but pulling out of the EU altogether? They're bound to feel that...
      • In they'd have to pull out of Europe, they might very well create two distinct and incompatible (new file format) versions of the iPod for both market spaces.
      • Well, I'm not really up on this sort of thing, but could not France then take its case to the EU, and petition the EU to bring a similar case?

        No. Apple is not (as far as anyone has determined) breaking any laws. They won their case in France and the EU has no reason to think they are breaking the law. This is not about Apple breaking the law, this is about France passing a new law to specifically force Apple to do something they desire. It's like a town passing a law that says Bob has to stop wearing th

        • The legal term is bill of attainder [techlawjournal.com].
          This is why the Maryland legislature laws against Wal Mart will ultimately fail.

          Incidentally, doesn't the French legislature have more pressing issues like say getting rid of their ill-conceived 'right to work' laws?
          • Incidentally, doesn't the French legislature have more pressing issues like say getting rid of their ill-conceived 'right to work' laws?

            Sacre-bleu! You mean I could get fired for being incompetent? Zees eez an outrage!
            • by lbrandy (923907) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:23PM (#14943921)
              Sacre-bleu! You mean I could get fired for being incompetent? Zees eez an outrage!

              At the risk of going off-topic.... It's even worse than that. Under the new law, you can only get fired if you are under the age of 26, have worked less than 2 years, and are incompetant. What's hilarious about the situation is the law was passed because companies refuse to hire people because they cannot fire them... so there are no jobs. Unemployment among people under 26 is at 23%. The government tries to give the kids a chance to prove themselves that would make companies eager to hire them.. and the kids riot...

              The Law of Unintended Consequences has wreaked havoc in France with their unfirable 35-hour workforce. Unemployment a problem? Make it so you can't fire people! It sounds great, but like most of economics, something that seems good at level one does the exact opposite at level two. So unemployment has skyrocketed.
        • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Friday March 17, 2006 @03:02PM (#14944256)
          This is not about Apple breaking the law, this is about France passing a new law to specifically force Apple to do something they desire. It's like a town passing a law that says Bob has to stop wearing that stupid hat.

          It's more like France passing a pro-consumer law to prevent vendor lock-in. Oh wait, it's not like that, it is that.
    • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:54AM (#14941983) Homepage
      Call me a jackass, but if Apple pulls out of France, can't people still easily get iPods and iTunes? I mean, with the EU, goods move fairly freely (I think) across borders, and people move between countries often. Traveling from France to a neighboring nation isn't like trying to get the 2000 miles from the tip of Florida to Canada. So won't the French, who want an iPod, just roll through the Chunnel, and buy one?
      And iTunes works with all music formats except the MS, so loading the things would be fairly easy....
      • Call me a jackass, but if Apple pulls out of France, can't people still easily get iPods and iTunes

        iPods yes, iTunes no. Many countries still can't buy from iTunes, France would go back on that list. French credit card and/or IP and you'd be rejected.

    • Well, iTunes could easily be pulled out of France without any significant effect. EU law will allow people to buy music from any other EU nation. Losing a portion of their revenue will be a more significant matter though. This will give their competitors a handhold on the market, and France makes up quite a substantial portion of the EU market.
    • Pulling out of the French market could cost Apple two, maybe two and a half percent of their iTMS revenues.

      It seems like France is the perfect market. They have 20% unemployment for people under 30... what else are they kids gonna do? Riot?
    • by Lakedemon (761375) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:14AM (#14942146)
      Well...I'm french, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

      My opinion is that pulling out of the france market :

      1) is a serious blow : 2% of a market where you are the world leader must represent an awfull lot of money. The kind of money that would make sales/marketing people salivate.

      2) Surrendering a country means, letting the competition gain a foothold/strong position where you (ipod/itunes) had a near-monopoly.
      Do you think, you could re-enter the market at a later point ?

      3) Brand recognition. If you stop selling ipod/itunes songs in france, will the french still think of Apple as cool ? Mmmh, maybee, maybee not...

      4) You'll have to open the ipod anyway....a few people (I did) are buying alternative mp3 player because thay want to play open formats, have more interoperability...People won't like the fact that the music they bought can't be played on other places than their ipod (they just don't realize it yet).
      Despite looks, a product that can't do half what the concurence does, can't be that cool...

      5) would be funny to see what the EU would do about it (Yet, I'm still waiting to see what the EU does to microsoft...I fancy seeing microsoft have to pay a million $ a day till it behaves, it would be fun and a good lesson for others (rich people/corporations shouldn't be above rules)).

      And I strongly feel too that :

      Though they had a good start and people everywhere loves their product, I highly doubt that Apple will remain the uncontested leader in selling mp3 players/mp3 songs. Other big players/corporations (sony, microsoft, the music industry...) are interested in a (big) share of the juicy market and, one way of the other, they'll get what they want.

      When the hipe around the ipod dies, what next ?
      There is always a next big thing, you know :D

      Just my 0.02 euros
      • 3) Brand recognition. If you stop selling ipod/itunes songs in france, will the french still think of Apple as cool ? Mmmh, maybee, maybee not...

        No, it will be more desireable. The Apple will be the forbidden fruit!
  • by TCQuad (537187) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:32AM (#14941789)
    That was quick. [slashdot.org]
    • No no no, this isn't a dupe... this is a follow-up! The new info is that whoever wrote the article figures that Apple might pull out of the French music biz altogether!

      Yeah, it's not much, but we gotta keep the stories coming around here you know!
    • Sure, the article's a dupe, we expect nothing less here at Slashdot. And it's hardly clear that the legislation would force Apple to do anything. However, this bit from the summary stands out:

      "the French parliament is considering legislation which would require that the iPod also be able to use music from services other than the iTunes Store."

      Guess what, folks? The iPod will already work with two non-DRM'ed formats that any music store is free to sell! One of them is even the de-facto standard for digital m
  • ... ask yourself: what would my opinion be if the article was about, say, Microsoft?
    • ... ask yourself: what would my opinion be if the article was about, say, Microsoft?

      I'd have a different opinion, but then it would also be a different situation. What does this have to do with anything?

    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:28AM (#14942261)
      My opinion would be no different. It's ridiculous and stupid of the French to force a company to make its product interoperate with other products just for the hell of it. A company has every right to sell a product, then sell a product or service that works with that product. What, is France going to force Microsoft to sell Office for Linux now? Or Halo 2 for the Gamecube? Does HBO now have to air "The Sopranos" on Fox? Does Sony have to sell XBox 360 games?

      If Apple was actually abusing its monopoly the way Microsoft did in the 90s--e.g., punishing retailers who sold competing products like with Microsoft's coercive OEM deals--then this would have merit. But Apple hasn't done that (and doesn't need to, they're #1 fair and square). You're totally free to buy a competing product and service.

      This is just the French hating Apple for being yet another American company taking over their precious little square of culture on the planet.
  • and then the French will just have to build their own iPod and iTunes, with Black Jack and Hoockers. In fact forget the Black Jack.

  • by tpgp (48001) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:36AM (#14941828) Homepage
    It should be noted here that Apple have allready pulled the ipod from france [com.com] due to decibel limits.

    However, Apple almost immediately surrendered, [pcmag.com] limiting the decibels with a firmware update so they could get the French market back again.
  • ... to access other formats, but not forced to. Anyway, this is one interpretation of a law still to be discussed by the senators, and even right now, the text isn't that clear.
  • Interesting ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bazzalisk (869812) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:37AM (#14941836) Homepage
    Except that the iPod can already play files purchased from other music stores.

    Any music store that sells in DRM-free mp3 format is completely compatible with the iPod.

    What you mean that the stores won't sell in anything other than locked microsoft formats? How is that Apple's fault?

    • any other player that doesn't play AAC's, DRM'd or not.
    • Re:Interesting ... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tjuricek (514513)
      I had the exact same thought: why are they forcing Apple to support someone else's proprietary DRM scheme? The article leads me to believe this is just a "you should support anything anybody builds" sort of statement. (This may be a skewed interpretation of the author.)

      My thought is that it should support open formats - say ogg. (Maybe they're trying to force Apple to license their format with others.) But trying to force someone else's proprietary format - even if it's "popular" with other businesses -
      • AAC is an open format, isn't it? MP3 is technically patented, but it's got lots of open source players and encoders too.

        The DRM isn't open. That should definitely be gotten rid of. Except then the recording industry wouldn't let Apple sell music.
    • and iTunes won't sell anything other than locked Apple formats. Who's fault is that?

      • Apple's. So go after them for that (you won't hear me complaining), though as others have pointed out that you can burn apple's DRM locked music to CD and then rerip them as DRMless mp3s. That's not true of the microsoft format music stores.
    • Exactly... and you can iTunes with most formats, too. I believe forcing Apple to license MS technology would be a crock, and only "fair" if it required MS based players to license Apple's technology.
    • Re:Interesting ... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tomcres (925786)
      It's Apple's fault because while Microsoft will license their DRM to anybody, Apple refuses to license FairPlay and insists that their device will only work with FairPlay. They even took steps to prevent Real's Harmony from working with newer iPod firmware. Apple wants to maintain their total control over the iPod and what it can play. It's as simple as that. Do you think that Real wouldn't have licensed FairPlay if they could? Apple won't license it. Roku got Apple to certify their SoundBridge as being DAA
      • control (Score:3, Informative)

        Apple wants to maintain their total control over the iPod and what it can play. It's as simple as that.

        100% wrong. The iPod supports MP3, AAC, WAV, and AIFF, in -addition- to Fairplay. Any company would not have to pay a single penny to apple to become "compatible" with the iPod if they offered their music in any single one of those formats.
        • None of those formats support DRM and the labels will not allow their music to be sold without DRM. If Microsoft can't pull this stuff with their standards, nor can Apple.
  • retarded? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:38AM (#14941841)
    the ipod can use all kinds of music from all kinds of places other than the itunes music store. it just can't play other store's DRM. talk to the other stores and have them release their music as non-DRM mp3 or AAC and the ipod will play it just fine.
  • by spyrochaete (707033)
    So France is against proprietary technology? I personally hate the iPod, iTunes, and ITMS, but I don't think they should be banished outright. People have a choose what to purchase and if they like being locked into an overpriced, overhyped, fragile product with expensive proprietary replacement parts then they have every right.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:10AM (#14942112) Homepage
      People have a choose (sic) what to purchase and if they like being locked into an overpriced, overhyped, fragile product with expensive proprietary replacement parts then they have every right.

      Most people don't see it as being locked in. They see it as actually getting what they wanted out of the device.

      I've known several people who just couldn't figure out how to muddle through ripping their own CDs, or fighting wth an MP3 player that they just couldn't figure out, and which either had no control software, or crappy stuff. They weren't interested in figuring out how to download through peer-to-peer, and weren't interested in pirating music.

      For those people, what they're paying for is a working user experience that does what they want. They're not interested in the geek perspective of "I could buy an MP3 player cheaper, and I'll be l337 cuz I got no DRM". They couldn't care less about ogg-freaking-vorbis and how it's unencumbered. They don't want to know about the formats of music, the bitrates, or the technical issues about which lossy compression is theoretically better. They want to hear music and not arm-wrestle with technology to get it.

      You don't like the iPod? Fine, don't buy one. What Apple does is an exceptional job at is giving people a good user experience that you generally don't have to muddle with. You may pay a premium for it compared to a DIY solution, but if you can't DIY, the cost is worth it. Because saving $50 to find out you can't make it work, is not actually a savings. I knew several people who returned other players after Christmas to get an iPod variant.

      I play my iPod shuffle 4-6 hours a day at work. I find the iTunes software to be amazingly easy and uncluttered. Sure, I rip my own MP3s from CD, so I'm not stuck with their proprietary format. I'm thinking of buying a larger iPod, or a second shuffle to keep more data with me music with me for longer trips.

      The fact of the matter is, for those people who find it provides real value, the iPod family and iTunes are a good set of products. That's why they're so successful. They're not successful because they're hyped -- they're hyped because they're successful and people want them.

      • It's tough for me to see things from the layman's perspective since I'm relatively more informed, but I think there are some foibles of the iPod that are universally unsavoury:

        - The whole battery fiasco was ridiculous. We've all heard horror stories of $120-odd battery replacements that can only be done by Apple by mail. I admit I haven't paid attention to whether or how Apple has remedied this.

        - Maybe I'm alone on this one but I don't see any benefit for the average person to carry any more than 5
        • It's tough for me to see things from the layman's perspective since I'm relatively more informed

          Any post that opens like that has GOT to be good!

          Do you think that, perhaps, just maybe, many people, say, the 90% or whatever who buy iPods, perhaps have slightly different priorities than you, instead of being uninformed?
          • Any post that opens like that has GOT to be good!

            Try reading the rest of it and you'll ansewr your own question below.

            Do you think that, perhaps, just maybe, many people, say, the 90% or whatever who buy iPods, perhaps have slightly different priorities than you, instead of being uninformed?

            No I don't. Do you think the vast majority of people who buy computers make informed decisions? Or do they buy the first thing they recognize that suits their needs?

            Of course the iPod is absolutely perfect
  • For sale... (Score:2, Funny)

    by BeProf (597697)
    One French iPod. Never played. Dropped once.
  • note that this is valid for any type of DRM, be it from apple, MS, Real, or anyone else
  • Silicon.com [silicon.com], at least, have it right: this is about forcing Apple to at least license the AAC format, and it looks like they're toying with breaking DRM entirely.

    Good. Apple have been getting passes from the technical community on a few things. They've earned them. But they have no competition as targets for this kind of legislation, and someone had to fire the first shot. Good for the French.

    • Thank you (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bogie (31020)
      For the life of me I couldn't understand why the summary was saying that the French wanted to force Apple to make the Ipod WMA compatible.

      Now about forcing Apple to license its DRM. Right or wrong aside I'm very much for that. Other companies have indicted that they are indeed interested in licesing Apple's DRM but Apple doesn't want to do that. If Itunes becomes the defacto distribution site for online TV and movies, which is actually very close to happening, then Apple should be forced to let other hardwa
  • Is this logical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EMIce (30092) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:53AM (#14941979) Homepage
    So let me get this straight. They want to dissallow breaking DRM via DMCA like measures [arstechnica.com], but force companies to open up their DRM for anyone to use. It seems like some sort of bad compromise is being attemped between having DMCA like measures and making sure there is healthy competition.

    The real question is why have DMCA like measures in the first place? They don't stop content from being pirated anyhow, and just assist the industry in nickel and diming us.

    This sounds like a government solution to a government created problem, as Apple hasn't done anything to my knowledge to abuse their position. If the government is protecting DRM from being reverse engineered, they are the ones screwing up fair use and turning the market lopsided, and Apple is perfectly within their rights under the law.
    • Re:Is this logical? (Score:3, Informative)

      by sxpert (139117)
      note: I'm from france, and I am following the issue

      well, let's put it this way.

      The DMCA (and it's EU corrolary called EUCD - European Union Copyright Directive) both stem from the same WIPO treaty.
      The Directive offers ample possibilities so as to state anything in state law. It's each government choice as to what will be in the local law.

      The french government has been lobbied by Vivendi Universal (and friends) and decided to select the worst possible things in the law-to-be

      Here's what the head of the cultur

    • The real question is why have DMCA like measures in the first place? They don't stop content from being pirated anyhow, and just assist the industry in nickel and diming us.


      Nickel and diming us - that's the point. It's called "preservation of profit potential" and is a key component to running a business. If it's successful in helping "them" nickel and dime us, then it'll stay. Count on it.
  • by fermion (181285) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:55AM (#14941993) Homepage Journal
    First, let me say that I believe Apple should license the DRM to other online stores. I think this will help with the PR on the growing realization of the Apple monopoly, and won't hurt Apple. Other than Walmart, no one one else has the volume and pull to get the kind of deals Apple is getting. The DRM license fee, and branding, will help protect Apple from Wal*Mart.

    That said, this current issue is not an issue with Apple. The iPods only major restriction that if the file contain DRM, then the only DRM that will work is Apple's. The other major restriction, unfortunately, is the OGG files must be converted to supported format, but I doubt France is taking umbrage with this.

    So the real problem is DRM, and the people responsible for the DRM are the record labels. They have pushed this solution, and they have help create these near monopolies. Ultimately it is up to them to relinquish some control. The consensus outline of the solution appear to be well known. A royalty tax on a variety of products and services. The royalties will be paid based on tracking data, just like radio. It will be harder, but with good watermarks and random sampling of the P2P networks, it would work. The source will still be CDs and online, with CDs often the better choice in terms of value.

    Apple could play a role in this, but building such tracking into itunes. The labels could be more happy if Apple tacked another dime on the price and submitted to the central royalty bank. The only downside is that this might open the market up to independents.

    • Apple has a monopoly? On what? Did somebody patent "an online store, which sells things" now?
      Apple has lots of marketshare, a marketing department that makes catchy "silhouette"[who knew it was spelled like that? Google knew.. I didn't] ads, and UI-experts as opposed to engineers designing their products.
    • Yeah, they could license it for 99 cents for each song the store wants to sell. What? nobody wants to license it anymore? Not Apple's fault.
  • Not just iPod (Score:3, Informative)

    by dafz1 (604262) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:56AM (#14941999)
    For those who didn't RTFA, this doesn't just affect the iPod and iTunes. This applies to all devices capable of playing content available from online sources, including Sony's Walkman mp3 players.

    This is typical government sticking it's nose somewhere it doesn't belong. If Apple wants to lock their iTMS content to iPods, let them do it. If a consumer wants to crack Fairplay, using tools that would appear to be legal in France, once this legislation passes, let them do it. Or, at least, mp3 player companies should have to create, and provide, tools to convert files to a compatible format. Again, this only applies to France, such tools would be illegal in other countries.
  • What this law says (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:58AM (#14942011) Journal
    1) Interoperability must be assured by the providers and reverse-engineering toward this goal is authorized. (Article 7.)

    2) A publisher/editor can force an artist to accept that his/her creation will be published with DRMs. ("vivendi" amendment, actually, four different amendments)

    As you see, we have fucked up politicians here too. I would say we have slightly less corruption from the lobbies but far more incompetence.
  • Stupid (Score:2, Troll)

    by Lord Bitman (95493)
    Just don't make it illegal to modify the iPod (or any other device) to allow it to play "other" media. End of story.

    Governments seem to half-get things all the time :)

    "Forcing people to act a certain way is bad.. "
    "Agreed"
    "So we should force different people to act a different way!"

    Given a thousand cheese-eating surrender monkeys at a thousand typewriters.. eventually they'll come up with a sensible legal system? I suppose somebody thought it was a worthy experiment.
  • Oy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wordsmith (183749) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:02AM (#14942050) Homepage
    I really hate just about all this supposed consumer-protection regulation. Make a product. If it does what I want, and it's a reasonable price, I'll buy it. If it employs, say, a DRM scheme that's incompatible with how I choose to use it, I won't. If I'm the only one who wants what I want, so no one makes it, well, that's the free market and I'll have to suck it up.

    I have no problem with device and media companies using DRM, ethically speaking. It makes their products less attractive to me personally, but they're betting that people like me are in the minority there. So be it. The only real problem with DRM is when laws like the DMCA in the USA prohibit you from circumventing it, because telling you what benign things you can do with a product you already own (short of redistribution) is just draconian.
  • try to solve a problem. The symptom of the problem is that Apple only supports one DRM scheme. This is not anti-competative, it's forced on them by the vendors who sell through their store. The problem is DRM, which is by its very nature anticompetative Any laws passed to control DRM will seem hypocritical in different cases. If you pass a law that says you can't have DRM and must use standard formats (which Apple does), then the playing field opens up with fair competition and you don't have the hypoc
  • Is the French Parliment going to require that Sony open up their consoles so they play XBox games too? Sure, this is a gross oversimplification of a comparison here, but c'mon. I think the fact Apple was able to gain this much market share WITH their format is something to commended. Remember when the iPod first came out and how many people bitched about that? Sheesh...
  • by saboola (655522) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:17AM (#14942177)
    So I guess the latest iPod killer is... the French?
  • I don't know that I follow the purpose of this. The iPod plays generic mp3 and aac files. The player doesn't care where you get these files from.

    The iTunes software of course only connects to apples own music store, but that makes sense, being that its a client for their store.

    The iPod isn't exactly rocket science, all that is required is that you create an XML file on the disc with the playlists and song names. Anyone can create a nice client for it, just like the nice open source linux clients I
  • So music is provided by a cartel of publishing houses that unethically charge musicians for the right to hand over the copyright to them because they control all the major distribution channels. This cartel also forces any company reselling their music online to implement DRM. Now Microsoft, has been convicted of abusing their monopoly on desktop OS's to force consumers and that cartel to use their own proprietary DRM format and add their own tax on all music sold. Apple, somehow does an end run around MS w

  • Wait a minute (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spacebird (859789)
    So they're saying that APPLE hardware can't be limited to APPLE software? Hasn't that been what they've doing with their computers for the last twenty years? Isn't it what every video game console ever released has done?
  • Let's call a spade a spade: in fact, the iPod and iTunes do support music from any sources besides the iTMS. However, iTunes and iPods do not support any DRM outside of iTMS. Therefore, it isn't breaking Apple's iTMS lock on the iPod. It's an attempt to force Apple to adopt other DRM schemes/contracts.

  • by Submarine (12319) on Friday March 17, 2006 @06:17PM (#14945693) Homepage
    (Note: contrary to 99% of the people answering here, I read the proposed law, as well as the debates on this text.)
    (Warning: What follows is precise fact. If you're waiting for the usual mentally retarded "yaah yaah the French are retarded" banter or the usual jokes about the "cultural exception", please read other messages.)

    In 2001, the European Union adopted a directive called EUCD which, following from a 1996 WIPO treaty, required member states to legally protect DRM "technical protection measures". Concretely, the EU asked France to enact appropriate penalties against people circumventing DRMs.

    In 2003, a law was drafted. Due to various circumstances, the law only came to Parliament in December 2005. The proposed law made circumventing DRMs, or even helping in circumvent DRMs, a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and/or up to a 300,000 EUR fine. The law was publicly justified by the need to protect the rights of the artists.

    One major criticism is that the law and some proposed amendments could in essence endanger any "free software" capable of playing music, video or even DRM-encumbered text (PDF, anyone?) because it could be argued that giving the source code of a DRM was a help in circumventing it. Not everybody wishes to risk a maximal sentence of 3 years in prison for free software.

    In December, the National Assembly famously adopted an amendment, the first in a series making p2p explicitly legal provided that Internet users paid a flat fee, against the wishes of the Minister of Culture. This started instant mayhem as the Minister tried to herd the Assembly back in his direction.

    In March, Parliament began discussing the text again. The directive imposed DRMs in order to safeguard the rights of the artists. Parliament then voted for amendments that said that DRMs were ok and protected, but provided that they were interoperable, in order to allow concurrence in the marketplace of software and hardware players.

    What this NYTimes article shows is that this bill was, in reality, not about the rights of the artists. It was about enacting criminal penalties for people who made concurrent products capable of reading the same contents. Now, some of those who pushed for the bill (makers of DRMs) are whining that their attempt backfired.

    To be blunter: some companies made DRMs, and requested heavy felony penalties against circumventers. Well, they have now been served obligations of compatibility in exchange for some ability to prosecute circumventers. That's life.

    Ah, by the way: in theory at least, French law prohibits "linked sales" to consumers - that is, tying the sale of a product to the sale of some other product, though this has wide exceptions.

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