The proposed French legislation that would, among many other things, force Apple to either get out of that market or open up iTunes DRM to third-party licensing (or legal hacking) has been approved, but only with a mellowed-out version of the DRM amendment. A joint Senate and General Assembly committee passed the revised version of the law, but the road doesn’t quite end here as both chambers of parliament still need to vote on the proposal. The difference is that no more amendments can be made, except by the gouvernement, or ministerial cabinet.
The original amendment—the thorn in Apple’s side—lost most of its potency when a different committee stripped out most of the DRM interoperability provisions back in May. Today’s vote represented a last chance to send the bill back for further adjustments such as reinserting the lost consumer protections, but it was not to be. Apple isn’t entirely happy with the compromise version, however, and still hopes for further adjustments. Since the current gouvernement happens to be in the hands of UMP, a conservative right-wing party, it’s not entirely out of the question, though highly unlikely.
So it looks like the French will have to settle for a system where keeping DRM technologies entirely proprietary and unlicenseable is illegal, except if the original content owner explicitly allows it. Apple is expected to strike deals to that effect with all the major recording houses in France, thereby bypassing the entire issue. No word yet on how minor studios with a rebellious streak would affect the proceedings, though I’d guess that Apple would prefer simply to leave them out of iTunes in favor of the bigger and friendlier labels.
The DRM battle is set to move to Scandinavia next, where Denmark, Norway, and Sweden all have voiced concern over Apple’s copy-protection practices. Judging by how quickly the Swedish government seems to have buckled to the international entertainment industry’s pressure over The Pirate Bay, I wouldn’t expect a better outcome in the bitter, sub-Arctic cold.
The story so far:
French parliament passes DRM bill. Will Apple bolt?France to Apple: don’t act so surprisedFrench DRM law guttedApple could find trouble in Norway