Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New French will require Apple to open iTunes

Well the French parliament has given the go ahead to a law which will require Apple's iTunes to be interoperable with competitors' services. It now goes forward for confirmation by the French Senate.

You might recall Apple is facing an antitrust investigation over iTunes in the United States and the company's rather hysterical reaction when RealNetworks figured out a way to sell songs online to iPod owners.

“We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod, and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] and other laws.”

So they considered suing RealNetworks for circumventing the iPod drm to facilitate interoperability. Instead, in the end they tweaked the iTunes drm so it wouldn't work with the RealNetworks music again and there have been various rounds in this tit for tat ever since.

Now the French parliament are trying to say that all drm should be interoperable. It remains to be seen what impact this will have. I still think drm will die off in the longer term but not before it has done some significant damage and it will never truly become properly extinct. A possible alternative is the evolution of a universal drm standard but what would be the point of that other than as a focus for strangling future innovation? Ooops. Nearly forgot myself. That is the whole point.

Update: Apple are rolling out the hysterical rhetoric again, saying the French decision "will result in state-sponsored piracy."

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