France has passed a new law that threatens to make Apple open up its DRM protection to other companies, but contains a loophole that could let them off the hook.
Its tricolour bombshell – which was first proposed in March – seems to force iTunes and other download services to share their copy-protection systems, and open up the possibility of iPods and Sony devices being able to play any downloaded files.
When it was first proposed, though, Apple derided it as ‘state-sponsored piracy’, and its pleas seem to have fallen on sympathetic ears.
A loophole that has been introduced following the first draft seems to allow Apple and others to negotiate deals with artists to let them restrict which players their music is played on, bringing the whole situation back to square un.
This may lead to a swift re-negotiating of recording contracts, although Apple won’t be devastated by the outcome either way – only two per cent of its music sales are in France. Furthermore, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading seems perfectly happy with iTunes’ activities over here, so don’t expect to see a Napster-friendly iPod anytime soon.