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French lawmakers approve bill to open iPod, iTunes

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
News Categories: iPod

French lawmakers have voted to approve the online music interoperability bill that would force Apple to open its copy-protection technology and break the exclusive tie between downloads from the iTunes Music Store and the iPod. As reported earlier today, “the draft law—which also introduces new penalties for music pirates—would force Apple Computer Inc., Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to share proprietary anti-copy technologies so that rivals can offer compatible services and players.” The French Senate will give a final vote on the bill in coming weeks.

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Comments

41

I bought vinyl records that played on every record player…and still do.

I bought tapes that played in any tape deck…and still do.

I bought video tapes in 2 formats (Beta and VHS) that still play on that equipment. When beta died, I was legally allowed to transfer my usage rights (my own personal copies) to another format.

I bought CDs that play on every CD player…and still do.

I bought DVDs that work on every current DVD player.

There is plenty of market and legal precedence to support the French position, and it is being discussed in other countries as well, and will become law there too. Spain is on a similar track as are the Scandinavian countries. Brazil will have legislation similar to this (and that is a HUGE market for music).

Apple cannot “leave France”. All that will do is allow any non-Apple competitor to reverse engineer (legal in the EU when applied to DRM, now specifically so in France) the iPod to play music bought from a competitor. The only loser in this case would be Apple.

Furthermore, France is a very large and technologically savvy cultural market and has been traditionally better for Apple measured in per capita sales than the US. Apple snubbing the French market will effectively mean a European competitor to iTunes with no DRM. Or, worse, no competitor to iTunes or MS and they withdraw, and rampant unauthorized downloading of pirate materials in France on an unstoppable scale. Isn’t one of Steve Jobs’ famous retirts to the music industry that iTunes has helped reign in illegal file sharing? Withdrawing from a market effectively cedes that market to either a competitor or the pirates. Steve’s own words.

Some of this is moot because iTunes allows one to rip into MP3 and transfer anywhere. Apple may already technically meet some of the legal requirements.

At issue is the insistence of DRM by labels and studios that limits fair use and personal use provisions allowed and even encouraged by previous technologies as outlined above.

What was that clever marketing phrase? Rip. Mix. Burn.

Posted by Aristophanes on March 22, 2006 at 12:23 AM (PDT)

42

Isn’t it enough that you can create audio CDs from iTunes tracks? Evidently not.

And I see a contradiction in the proposed bill as it has been reported: on the one hand music resellers will be forced to make their music compatible with competing players; on the other hand anyone who cracks DRMs will be fined. Shouldn’t the bill just allow you to break the DRM instead of placing a burden on the business?

Posted by Pikemann_Urge on March 22, 2006 at 12:49 AM (PDT)

43

why doesn’t apple license 3rd parties like the made for ipod model? they could have “made for itunes”

apple should realize they are firmly planted as the market leader and now try and ensure i-tunes is the industry standard. if they don’t then i’m sure microsoft will come up with a watered down version people will suffer with because it’s readily available and works across multiple players, computers, with tvs, xbox and car stereos.

while Apple is at it… they should license an os x lite for the Consumer Electronics sector that runs just i-tunes, safari, and a calender. Say the big Blu-ray makers other than Sony (as they have this with the Vaio Media Center.)

imagine, a blu-ray player with a 500 gb harddrive and wireless internet that plays i-tunes on the screen. this is what i’m talking about!

Posted by Aaron Hulsizer on March 22, 2006 at 3:51 AM (PDT)

44

“Well people, you haven’t followed the whole story! This is a part of law which translates the European EUCD (equivalent of the DMCA) into French legisaltion.”
As the french law is a translation of an European directive, in some form it will have to be implemented in ALL EU countries. EU is a bigger economic market than the US.

“At issue is the insistence of DRM by labels and studios that limits fair use and personal use provisions allowed and even encouraged by previous technologies as outlined above.”
It says it all.

Posted by A-Maze on March 22, 2006 at 4:19 AM (PDT)

45

Regarding the DRM issue…

if there was just one DRM format and one digital audio format then there wouldn’t be any issue. the music industry (record labels) should establish the DRM format and make apple, ms, napster and so on conform to that.

just the same way the compact disc, DVD, and now HD-DVD and Blu-ray formats are established.

As an analogy, Apple, Naptster, etc are not only online music stores, they are the ones ‘publishing’ or ‘printing’ the ‘packaging’ the music comes in. AAC, mp3s, WMA, etc

The labels should say, hey apple, napster, so on, we have x many new albums we’re releasing this week. Apple/Napster/so on, you guys just need to ‘stack your online shelves’

i worry that Microsoft will worm in with the labels, make yet another pact with the Satan and make their format the industry standard.

I think the big labels owe it to Apple, not to do this deal, as Apple made digital music legally viable.

in regards to comments previously…will people still buy ipod players?...
of course!
Frankly, people buy ipods over other players for their looks and the status, just the same way people buy sunglasses or denim jeans. you walk around with an ipod. it’s a fashion accessory. if you have an ugly Dell computer at home, well most people won’t see it. Home computers aren’t furniture or ornaments. Dell knew this. However, this is why Dell failed at portable music. They don’t understand good design. Pile em high, sell em cheap doesn’t work here.

no one goes, gee i like the itunes store so much better so i have to buy an ipod! it is a reasonably conclusion, but i seriously doubt anyone buys their brand player this way.

Many people (the majority?) pay more for pretty things like ipods, some people (a considerable group but less) just shop for price.

Branding matters with some products and doesn’t with other products. Proctor & Gamble have spent billions on this.

Some people want a pair of Diesel jeans. other people feel just fine in there KMart brand denim!

if Apple doesn’t like the thought of someone using a samsung player with itunes, then just charge samsung a licensing fees for the itunes firmware and the ‘made for itunes’ logo.

or start charging $29.99 or €19.99 euros for itunes software!

seriously, steve, i should run the company!

Posted by me on March 22, 2006 at 4:50 AM (PDT)

46

This stupid a@@ bill is like the US senate voting on passing a bill to allow Windows XP to become OPEN SOURCE. Who the hell do they think they are!

Posted by doctorded on March 22, 2006 at 6:27 AM (PDT)

47

Cool…..this was always the one drawback for me with the Nano.  I got so used to using the open-source-like Creative Zen Player and it’s application (along with countless others) that I felt cheated when I needed to use iTunes with my Nano.

Posted by Dan on March 22, 2006 at 6:51 AM (PDT)

48

First, I’ll say that DRM sucks.

Now, the last I checked Microsoft was the CONVICTED monopolist and Apple wasn’t. Oh, and the music labels are being investigated for price-fixing. The only company keeping the music labels in check with $0.99 songs is Apple. Apple is not a monopoly, get your facts and definitions straight.

Posted by momo on March 22, 2006 at 7:56 AM (PDT)

49

Why is a company doing a good job with a, relative to microsoft in the broader computer market, being assulted by the French government?  Apple may in fact come to dominate the download market but so has Adobe and AutoCAD with their software products.  Like Adobe and AutoCAD competitors still exist and challenge their power.  To say the “M” word, (monopoly) in the MP3 market that has only come of age in the past 3 years seems very glum and short sighted.  Other companies trip over themselves to compete with Apple in the MP3 area producing the competitive pressure that leads Apple to innovate and produce products we love. Forced dispersing of the code will unreasoanbly remove value from a product by a government that fears, along with parts Europe that the Americans will beat them to the techonolgy table again. (See articles on French technology pushes currently in the media)

Posted by Robert on March 22, 2006 at 9:34 AM (PDT)

50

The French iTMS only accounts for 5% of Apples global iTunes sales.
I dont even think it will get through the next stage as to become law but if it does, goodbye iTunes France.

Posted by Neil on March 22, 2006 at 10:08 AM (PDT)

51

If the goal of French legislators is to allow more diverse use of legally purchased music, why not just have the competing DRM schemes cross-license their technology, i.e. have your iPod play Windows Media 10 DRM protected files and your Brand X MP3 player play Apple DRM AAC files?  Apple used to have support for multiple MP3 players built into iTunes before the existance of iPods anyway.  Admittedly, the hardware would need to have firmware updated to accept the new formats and software would need to be patched, but these things are routinely done as the technology evolves.

The silly thing about all of this is that anyone can go buy the CD version any album and rip it into whatever formats are needed on their computer to use with their personal music player du jour.  And that gives them a backup copy if their hard drive crashes, too.

Posted by Chris G. on March 22, 2006 at 10:11 AM (PDT)

52

WHO CARES?
iTunes Music Store is rubbish, go to mp3search from Russia and pay 10p a track. And they work on any player. If Apple wanna lock their tracks, let them , and see their sales drop, no skin off my nose

Posted by Andy on March 22, 2006 at 10:30 AM (PDT)

53

This is a great idea!  I dont understand why Apple has a problem with it.  If they think that proprietary downloads benefit them, they’re dead wrong.  I never use music store to purchase files, because I can only use them on my iPod (and also, they only offer some crappy 128kbs bit rate).  The bottom line is people buy music devices for what they are… functional devices.  The software that comes with the device, up to this point, is only a necessary evil to get music on your device.  Software that allows seamless integration between multiple music services and devices is exactly what people want!  Why doesn’t Apple wise up and be the first instead of taking their usual stance of proprietary holdout.  This is exactly why most people don’t use MACs…incompatibility.

Posted by Nate on March 22, 2006 at 10:33 AM (PDT)

54

Good riddance France. You and all your little pansy friends. As far as I care, they can all go to **** (Or Windows Stupid Media Player.)

Posted by iPod, therefore I am. on March 22, 2006 at 12:15 PM (PDT)

55

way to go France! Once France has passed its law other European countries might follow. And I do not think that Apple can afford to get rid of the European marked all together…

Posted by Michael on March 22, 2006 at 12:27 PM (PDT)

56

France sucks, and their little kid Canada sucks, too. They think they are so much better and smarter than Americans. For once let them get what they so deserve. Rampant piracy and a weakened economy. If you want to download music onto other players, do so. Buy another model. Why, there are plenty of iPod wannabes that would love to take you for your money. No one is making you buy iPods. No one made me buy mine, I bought it for it’s ease of use, and quality. I happened to get a great, easy to use, and inexpensive way of purchasing my music with it. So, France, see ya in the funny pages. Cause that’s sure where you belong. You and Canada.

Posted by Brian Mobley on March 22, 2006 at 12:30 PM (PDT)

57

10 years from now, people will laugh about you guys. Paying for music that only plays on one device…redicules. Right now, people might not care (or don’t know), but as soon as mp3 players are as common as cell phones and integrated everywhere with tons of different options to choose from, it will definitely hit some people pretty hard. iPods are hip now, but that hype will fade away with other technology introduced…

Posted by Carl on March 22, 2006 at 12:37 PM (PDT)

58

As long as Apple and Microsoft pretend that each other does not exist, it can onlt hurt Apple.  iPod market saturation can only last as long as the competition hasn’t caught up.  They will catch up and only Apple is in the position to suffer.  If they opened the iPod up to other formats - they win big time and continue domination.  If they don’t - I give them 3 years.

Posted by rverginia on March 22, 2006 at 12:39 PM (PDT)

59

@Brian Mobley

yep, Americans are so much smarter…that especially becomes clear when looking at how many people have a higher level education, i.e. Masters or Doctors degree and what percentage of engineers and scientists graduate in France or Canada compared to the U.S., not to mention the results from lasts Pisa study…

Posted by @Brian Mobley on March 22, 2006 at 12:43 PM (PDT)

60

I personally think it’s a great idea!

—-

You should ask yourself:
- Do people buy an iPod so they can use iTunes?
or
-Do people use iTunes because they got an iPod?

I think everyone shall agree the second one is the general rule. It would be in Apple’s benefit if every musicplayer could play iTunes files. They would sell so much more songs! I think Apple would even win from this.

Posted by Ann on March 22, 2006 at 12:50 PM (PDT)

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