June 23, 2006 8:08 AM PDT

France rolls over on iTunes DRM-busting law

France has given the thumbs-up to the defanged version of a controversial law that would have forced Apple Computer to open up its iTunes digital rights management to players other than its iPod.

The Dadvsi law, which originally included provisions to allow people to crack DRM protections and oblige Apple to interoperate with its rivals' music download services and vice versa, gained the approval of French lawmakers yesterday.

Now the bill gives Apple and its rivals a "get out of jail free card": While interoperability is still mandated, it doesn't have to be enforced if the online song shops have the permission of the rights holders--musicians and record labels, for example--to use DRM.

The watered-down law has drawn fierce debate in the French parliament. A group of French politicians signed an open letter to the commission in charge of reviewing the bill, demanding that full interoperability be written into the text of the bill. Others refused to take part in the commission, on the grounds that their strong opinions on the issue would not be heard, and they didn't want to appear to support the commission's stance by being involved.

The bill must still win approval from both houses of the French parliament. The first vote on it is expected next week.

Alain Suguenot, the depute for the Cote d'Or, criticized the commission.

"When we arrived at the meeting, we discovered that there were 55 new amendments which rewrote a section of the bill," Suguenot told Silicon.com sister site ZDNet France. "The two legislators in charge of writing up the bill had worked in secret to (write this new section), and we would have had to take a stance on these new propositions in just a few minutes."

The original wording of the bill drew Apple's ire, and the iPod maker had threatened to cease operating in the country rather than share its DRM secrets with the likes of Microsoft. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London. Estelle Dumout of ZDNet France reported from Paris.

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6 comments

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CDs are still best...
A non-copy-protected CD is still the best source of music. It isn't in lowfi-compressed format, and it isn't locked into a proprietary-DRM scheme.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So... What's the point?
>While interoperability is still mandated, it >doesn't have to be enforced if the online song
>shops have the permission of the rights
>holders--musicians and record labels, for
>example--to use DRM.


Then what's the purpose of passing what remains of this law? The "rights holders" are not going to "allow" song shops to use DRM, the rights holders "require" the use of DRM. So life before and after this law will be exactly the same, it is simply a waste of paper and a waste of space in the government file cabinets. It effectively does exactly __nothing__ with that loophole present.

Well, at least USA isn't the only government full of politicians wasting their own time for nothing...
Posted by amigabill (93 comments )
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Musicians AND record labels VS Musicians OR record labels
Devil is in the details.

I believe there are a more than a few bands who care enough about their fans to do the right thing. There are some who have already posted hacks to strip DRM from their products... against the wishes of the record labels.
I don't believe there are any record execs (at least in the majors) that will do the right thing.
So if the band can veto the consumers may have a prayer. If the record label has to sign off as well, nothing will change in deed.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Link Flag
Take a ride on the Monopoly I mean "Reading Rail Road"&
If Microsoft had made a move like this everyone would once again cry out There goes the MS Monopoly train again!
Posted by Curtiss W (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Why the hell does Apple get to write its own laws
Posted by Gorthax (3 comments )
Link Flag
France surrenders again
what else is new
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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