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French DRM bill 'state-sponsored piracy' - Apple

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Apple has denounced France as a sponsor of piracy after the country's parliament backed a bill that, if enacted, will force the company to open its DRM technology to other hardware vendors and online music stores.

Speaking to Reuters, an Apple spokeswoman blasted the move as "state-sponsored piracy", adding: "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

The company also claimed interoperable music "cannot be adequately protected".

If the bill becomes law, Apple's most likely course would be to shut down the French incarnation of its iTunes Music Store, the leading digital music vendor in France, according to its closest rival, VirginMega, the Virgin Group's French online music joint-venture with media company Lagardère. Apple's market leadership was confirmed this week by a VirginMega spokesman cited by VNUnet.fr.

Interestingly, VirginMega attempted to sue Apple in August 2004 in a bid to force the iPod maker to open up its DRM technology, called FairPlay, but failed to persuade the French court that Apple was behaving in an anti-competitive fashion. That said, the court also noted that Apple's decision to keep FairPlay to itself did put consumers at a "disadvantage". ®

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