French DRM Law Revised for iTunes

A bill in the French legislature that could have possibly caused Apple to pull out of the country will be revised to include a loophole that would allow companies to sidestep a requirement making proprietary DRM essentially illegal, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

However, new deals would need to be negotiated with record labels and artists in order to qualify.

The original bill would have outlawed DRM formats such as Appe's FairPlay format, which is closed to third party developers, and legalized conversion from one format to another. That bill passed the National Assembly -- the lower house -- in March.

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However, the French Senate watered down the bill in May, amending the legislation to say that music stores would be allowed to keep their exclusivity only after receiving the go-ahead from copyright holders and artists. It now appears that the Senate's amendment would make it through to the final law.

Approval of the revised bill is expected Thursday. The compromise would also add a regulatory authority to ensure compliance with the new law. Companies could be forced to open up their formats if the authority deems they are imposing additional restrictions not predetermined by the copyright holders.

While Apple may have dodged a bullet in France, pressure to open up Apple's FairPlay format is surfacing elsewhere. Consumer groups in Norway, Sweden and Denmark accused Apple of violating contracts with its product usage regulations, and asked governments to take action earlier this month.

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