iTunes DRM Likely Safe in France

The ability of Apple to keep iTunes DRM closed in France, as well as the service's future in the country, may be safe thanks to an amendment to a copyright bill to be voted on by the Senate this week. Under the amendment, music stores would be allowed to keep their exclusivity only after receiving the go-ahead from copyright holders and artists.

Lawmakers are attempting to tone down a bill that would essentially make closed digital rights management technologies illegal in the country. The changes have received the blessing of the government and several consumer groups, and the bill passed the lower house of the French legislature in late March.

Apple said the law was equivalent to "state-sponsored piracy," and analysts have speculated that the company would pull out of the country as a result.

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Under the revision, any disputes over interoperability would now be decided by a regulatory authority if they pose a roadblock that is "additional to, or independent of, those explicitly decided by the copyright holders."

Thus, Apple and others could still essentially refuse to open up their DRM, but only if the owners of the content have approved. But supporters of the original bill say they want any loopholes closed that could prevent interoperability from becoming a reality, and there is no assurance that the amendment would pass.

In any case, a vote in the Senate is expected within a few days, which would be followed by meetings with the lower house to iron out inconsistencies and come up with a compromise version of the bill.

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