French Parliament Approves Of Open Formats Bill

from the a-chance-to-learn dept

After many confusing variations of a French bill on music copy protection were thrown around, parliament finally approved a law banning the sale of proprietary locked content. Songs sold on iTunes, for example, must play on non-iPod mp3 devices. In response, some predict that Apple may quit the French market, since their business model is predicated on selling iTunes tracks at a loss which lock them in to buying iPods, where they make big profits. Conveniently for Apple they've been able to blame the RIAA for forcing them to be so inflexible, when the company has so much to gain from DRM. Still, it would be a mistake to abandon this market. The superiority of the iPod over its competitors, as well as its fashionability, should keep sales of it high. As silly as it is for the government to get involved, perhaps Apple should look on this as an opportunity to experiment without copy protection. In the past, the RIAA would never have allowed it, but now Apple can hide behind the excuse that the government is forcing their hand. As these problems aren't going away in the rest of the world, they'll have experience in France to see how things unfold. Given that there is often a business downside to DRM, the labels would be wise to learn this lesson as well, though we doubt they'll see it this way. It would be too embarrasing to get taught by the French government that their business model is flawed.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 11:15am

    What is a "Frech" ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 11:30am

    " As these problems aren't going away in the rest of the world, they'll have experience in France to see how things unfold."

    Good theory, but in the real world, unlocked in France functionally means unlocked everywhere.

     

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    Tim, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 11:44am

    And of course, "unlocked everywhere" is a world apart from the situation that exists now.

     

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    DavidT, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 12:41pm

    In unrelated news...

    ... iTunes, Rhapsody, and Yahoo!Music announce that their French stores will close as of April 15, 2006.

    File this under "one monopoly rent" theory -- if you don't like buying iTunes and iPod then buy a Creative Labs, Sony, Oregon Scientific, or other player and use any of the other music services...

     

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    George Smith, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Now I can start liking the French

     

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    Aaron, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 12:57pm

    You can start liking the French for meddling with private business decisions - flawed as they may be - and shutting down music stores, leading to less choice among French audiophiles?

    Open stores and players already existed. If a person wanted open content, it was already available. All this does is make a bunch of iPods already sold virtually worthless.

    I can't think of a single positive thing this does.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Aaron

      Really, how does this make iPods worthless? They still play all the music they ever did, and will still play all the non-DRMed files as well, but now the other companies (Creative, etc) are able to play the locked files. Its funny, too, because all Apple would have had to do was license their DRM to other companies (see Microsoft Plays for Sure), they'd have avoided this whole anti-competetive mess.

      This guy gave a pretty good example of how DRM screws everyone but the provider. This is yet another example of Apple's flawed business plan: "All we have to do is force people to buy our software, our hardware, our services, and our equipment, and we'll be rich!"

      And yes, while other options exist, none is practical. You can't get the bredth of music offered in the iTunes store. Through clever deals, they've got a lot of record labels behind them, at the cost of user experience. Apple needs to realize that their products can sell on their own, and that you don't have to lock someone into using one once they find they like another. This isn't a simple matter of Apple not 'bothering' to make it compatable with other devices, they intentionally made it incompatable. This is malicious, anti-competetive, and illegal. The reason they get away with it? "The iPod is soooo cute!"

       

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    Michael "TheZorch" Haney, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 1:39pm

    This isn't related but long ago California passed a law severely limiting how much insurance companies could charge for auto insurance. When those companies started pulling out of California to get around the law the state legislature went and made it illegal for them to leave in order to circumvent the law or face very stiff fines and possible jail time. Overall the penalties were pretty stiff and none of the companies that planned to leave ever left California.

    The French could do the same makiing it illegal for media companies to close up shop in France because they don't like the new law. Threatening the recording industry with multi-billion dollar fines and jail time will take the wind out of their sails really fast.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 2:07pm

    "The reason they get away with it? "The iPod is soooo cute!"

    No, the reason they get away with it is because, 1) their business model was accepted by both the labels and about 15 million consumers and 2), they made downloading music simple.

    The French Parliment is about to screw up their business model. Say g'nite iTunes France.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 2:35pm

    "This guy gave a pretty good example of how DRM screws everyone but the provider"

    Actually, that's a pretty stupid story. No one buys a song from Apple BEFORE they have iTunes or an iPod. I've never felt 'screwed' because of the Apple DRM. But then again, I don't want any of the competing players, I LIKE the iPod.

    However, I think Apple should either open up the iPod and allow other services to put music on the iPod, or license the DRM, as someone else suggested. I mean, they make more money on the iPod than the songs, right? If I was allowed to play music purchased from other services, I'd still buy the iPod, Apple would get my money and... hell, I'd still be ABLE to use the ITMS.

     

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    Ben, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 3:23pm

    Wow people...

    This isnt that big of a deal. ok so it opens up in france. you can STILL play everything on your iPod, and you get better battery life without the DRM anyways. If the iPod is a quality machine then people will still buy them. If not...well then its to bad the product wasnt good enough to sell.

    And the less music they sell on iTunes the less they lose since Apple loses money on every song sold via iTunes. So what it really comes down to is that they need to make sure the iPod is better than other mp3 players. Which isn't hard apperantly cause its all i see people use anymore (not an apple fan so i don't have one).

    And aren't iTunes low quality because of the DRM? maybe im wrong on that but i thought that the DRM caused the quality of the song to be decreased. (If im wrong correct me)

    So...better battery life and better sounds quality...sounds like a win for the Frence

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    The superiority of the iPod?

    Was that a joke that I missed, or is the writer severely lacking in his music player knowledge? The last person that thought iPods were glorious ended up laughing at them upon me showing them some of the competition.

     

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    Dawger, Mar 21st, 2006 @ 11:12pm

    Them

    No matter if their parliament tries to do something positive, they are still just the french. As always a 2nd world country that thinks otherwise.

     

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