Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

French Parliament Fights iPod and iTunes 323

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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

French Parliament Fights iPod and iTunes

Comments Filter:
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:31AM (#14941782) Journal
    Pulling out of the French market could cost Apple two, maybe two and a half percent of their iTMS revenues.

  • by Aminion ( 896851 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:32AM (#14941797)
    ... ask yourself: what would my opinion be if the article was about, say, Microsoft?
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:37AM (#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...
  • Interesting ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bazzalisk ( 869812 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:37AM (#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?

  • ummmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sk8dork ( 842313 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#14941889) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's not iTunes or iPod that are refusing to 'use' music from other music services, it's the other music services themselves that protect their music files and thus make them incompatible. One can import any regular old music file into iTunes and onto an iPod, i.e. from allofmp3 or ripped straight from CD. Perhaps iTunes could collaborate with the other music services to jointly enable their players to play the other encrypted files, but this certainly would have to be a joint effort.


  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:44AM (#14941906) Homepage Journal
    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 bombadillo ( 706765 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:48AM (#14941937)
    Actually this bill looks like it intended to water down DRM and lessen piracy laws. The evils of DRM and overzelous anti-piracy laws are weekly topics on Slahdot. It looks like the French are actually doing something about it instead of complaing on an Internet site. It unfortunately looks like Apple has been singled out as they are a market leader. I say unfortunate because Apples DRM is relatively light compared to WMA. Although the bill does look a little vague as described by the article. However, something may have been lost in translation.

    Move your French hating along Ian. By the way that name sounds pretty English.... Still haven't gotten over the French occupation of England have we?
  • Is this logical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EMIce ( 30092 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:53AM (#14941979) Homepage
    So let me get this straight. They want to dissallow breaking DRM via DMCA like measures [], 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.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:54AM (#14941985) Journal
    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.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:55AM (#14941986)

    ... 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 baldass_newbie ( 136609 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:56AM (#14941994) Homepage Journal
    The legal term is bill of attainder [].
    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?
  • by lbrandy ( 923907 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @11:58AM (#14942010)
    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?
  • Re:Interesting ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tjuricek ( 514513 ) <tristan.juricek@ ... .edu minus herbi> on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:00PM (#14942036) Homepage
    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 - is just going to result in Microsoft getting a big boost in market share. It seems like lawmakers are just concerned about ease of use, blind to principles of the electronic market.
  • Oy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:02PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:05PM (#14942072)
    Folks, get all the facts :
    This law might just force the makers of mp3 players such as Apple to open their device to music PURCHASED on another store than the one that manufactures the MP3 player, but :
    - it enforces the monitoring of all traffic on the internet (so that the "pirates" are fined 38 Euros per illegally downloaded song),
    - it declares illegal to use, advertise, write or distribute any program that could be used to share music illegally or that could be used to transfer DRM protected data from one medium to another (you can't make MP3s of a purchased CD to put it on your MP3 player).

    Since it is forbidden to access the source code of the DRM, you won't be allowed to read DVDs on a Linux Box, or any other DRM protected stuff, because DRM == proprietary software. this is the most restrictive interpretation of the European Directive anywhere in Europe !!

    more info on []
  • Thank you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:08PM (#14942101) Journal
    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 hardware makers participate. Again I could care less if this is "right", I just want consumers to benefit for once.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:08PM (#14942102)
    I would praise Apple for their recent decisions on hardware. The took a standard x86 bocks, removed the legacy BS which should have been done many years ago, and then slapped on a pretty decent OS. What really irks me is all of these people FORCING companies to change THEIR product offering to fit in with their own desires. What right do they have telling a company that they have to change their product? If you don't like it, don't use it, plain and simple. The french need to pull the stick out of their arse, along with many other countries (hey Europe, I may dislike MS, but these comments apply to you also) I have never had an issue using a 3rd party app with my iPod or Windows. Let these companies put out software how THEY want to put it out, if you don't like it.....Run Linux! and use a cheap, poorly designed MP3 player with half-arsed software.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:10PM (#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.

  • by Lakedemon ( 761375 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:14PM (#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
  • by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:18PM (#14942183)
    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 music, MP3.
  • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:30PM (#14942275) Homepage
    Very good point. I've always said that a free market is a regulated market.

    In related news, a free person is one whose every action is regulated by the government (slavery is freedom).
    From wikipedia []:
    "a free market is an idealised economic model wherein exchanges are "free" of all coercive measures[citation needed], including such government interference as tariffs, taxation, and regulations, except those which allow for private property ownership in land, natural resources, and the broadcast spectrum, as well as intellectual property, corporations, and other legal fictions"
  • Re:Interesting ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomcres ( 925786 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:44PM (#14942427)
    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 DAAP compatible, but they still wouldn't license FairPlay.

    Face it, Apple is just as greedy, monopolistic, and evil as Microsoft, if not moreso. Hell, you can't even run Mac OS X on anything other than Mac hardware, not because it's technically impossible, but because their EULA specifically forbids it!

  • Wait a minute (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spacebird ( 859789 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @12:45PM (#14942438)
    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?
  • by I'm Don Giovanni ( 598558 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @03:09PM (#14943831)
    If I may borrow from Malcolm X, this is a case of "the chickens coming home to roost". Many MS-haters begged for big government to stick its nose into the tech industry in order to bring down Microsoft. Well, now those very same government forces that were unleashed to bring down Microsoft are going after one of the MS-haters' own pet companies. To quote another saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it."

    BTW, Apple could end this by simply licensing its DRM to other digital audio hardware/software players, as the "evil" Microsoft does.
  • by lbrandy ( 923907 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @03:23PM (#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.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.