French Copyright Law Hits Roadblock

Apple scored a victory late last week, as the French Constitutional Council ruled that parts of the so-called "iTunes law" were unconstitutional, and violated sections of the 1789 Declaration of Human Rights and constitutional law regarding protection of property. The changes, while not altering the fact that companies may still have to share DRM technology, would require they be compensated.

Fines for file sharing included in the bill were also eliminated. French Intellectual property attorneys lauded the ruling as a victory for property rights, saying companies had the right to receive some type of compensation for their work. The review was brought about when 100 lawmakers complained about the bill after its passage last month.

Laws in France are commonly vetted before the constitutional council before taking effect. The government then has the choice of whether to implement the altered law, or return it to the legislature for a revote.

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What may concern Apple and other companies is the fact that the court left in place the provisions to require interoperability between digital rights management technology. While the Cupertino company would now receive compensation, it may still be required to license out iTunes' FairPlay DRM, something it vehemently opposes.

Apple has called the law equivalent to "state-sponsored piracy," and said "legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

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