New French Law Might Force Apple to Open iTunes

You just gotta love the French. A newly proposed French law would
require Apple Computer to open its iTunes Music Store to MP3 players
that compete with Apple's iPod, breaking the near-monopolistic bundling
of the two products for the first time. The law would make it legal for
consumers to use software to convert digital media files into any
format.

The proposed law, which flies in the face of the somewhat dubious
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States and a
similar existing French law, would of course affect other online music
services as well. But it's considered a huge problem for Apple
specifically because that company has so successfully tied its dominant
music service to its dominant MP3 player, the iPod.

The new law "will force some proprietary systems to be opened up,"
Christian Vanneste, a senior French parliamentarian, told Reuters
earlier this week. "You have to be able to download content and play it
on any device."

Apple could, of course, decide to simply close down the French version
of its iTunes Music Store. Doing so would exclude millions of French
consumers from Apple's service.

Critics of the proposed law, primarily music-industry executives and
other special-interest groups, note that it could allow users to copy
music into unprotected formats that could be freely and illegally
distributed to others. However, proponents of the law say it would
fight piracy and encourage the development of competing online music
services.

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