French Copyright Law Builds Momentum

Lawmakers in France's lower legislative house approved by a 296-193 margin a bill that would force digital music stores to open up their proprietary formats on Tuesday. The bill would also mandate companies to share their copy-protection technologies so that players can be used on the consumer's choice of services.

The bill threatens to change the digital rights management landscape. These technologies are what have allowed Apple to continue it's near-stranglehold on the legal music industry, and now is helping the company become a force in digital video.

Also, internationally there are some reservations over just two American companies -- that being Microsoft and Apple -- having near unanimous control of protected digital media, analysts say.

The bill still must go through the upper house of the legislature, the Senate, before passage. That is set to begin in May.

Apple has so far refused to comment on either the bill itself or speculation that the company would withdraw from the French market rather than open up its FairPlay technology.

However the successful passage of the bill, which could come as early as this summer, could force the company to rethink its business strategy. It could even spur other countries to launch similar efforts of their own, and may possibly change the entire concept of DRM.

The policies come as part of a larger bill that would introduce fines of 38 to 150 euros for those caught pirating music or movies, and 3,750 euros for hacking a copyright protection system. Those caught distributing software could face fines of up to 300,000 euros.

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