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.
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