BEIJING, March 22 (Xinhuanet) -- French legislators
Tuesday passed a bill to force Apple Computer Inc. to open its iTunes online
music store and iPod media players to competitors.
The French National Assembly, the lower house of the
country's parliament, voted 296-to-193 to approve an online copyright bill that
would require online music services and MP3 player makers to open DRM technology
up to competitor's devices and services, and also allow for usage of
content from various online providers on the iPod and other devices. The bill
now goes to French Senate, which will debate the measure in May, MarketWatch
By requiring that songs bought from iTunes -- or from
any other digital music site -- can be played on any music players, the proposed
French law seeks to break down the barriers created by incompatible "digital
rights management" formats, the copyright protection software that limits where
and how music can be played.
The decision has sent tremors through the wider
technology world. The US public policy group American For Technology
Leadership called the French decision a "direct attack" on Apple's
intellectual property, warning that one consequence could be Apple pulling its
iTunes store out of France.
"Whether it gives other MP3 manufacturers an advantage is
still an open question," Financial Times Tueaday quoted Barry Jaruzelski,
consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, as saying. "At this point, Apple's iPod and
iTunes have become the product that many consumers view as hard to live
If Apple were to withdraw iTunes from France,
consumers would be left owning iPod music players that are "as much use as
paperweights," the FT report said.
Some analysts estimate that about 20 percent of iPod and
iTunes sales occur outside of the United States, with the French market alone
representing less than 2 percent of iPod and iTunes business.
While it will also affect other companies, such as
Microsoft and Sony, the proposed law was clearly aimed at Apple, which dominates
the sector, FT said. Enditem