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French court drops DRM interoperability provision

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A higher French select legal committee has dropped the contentious provision from its copyright law that would have placed the onus on companies using DRM on music services, to license it to other equipment makers.

Although the law has more debating stages, its real aim was to catch France up with the World Copyright Treaty (WCT) and make provisions that are similar to the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act, including making it illegal to break DRM and copy protection.

Apple and others had made protestations over the additional wording of the law which were clearly targeted at Apple’s iTunes service and its reluctance to license its Fairplay DRM to anyone else.

A lower court added the sections on DRM interoperability and in our analysis in March, we said the new laws would be unworkable and would eventually be squashed, which has now happened.

Almost every European country has now passed a version of a law which supports the WCT, having been pressurised to do so by the European Commission. This includes the issue of citizens never interfering with content protection, even where this goes against local laws that say that content buyers are allowed to make personal copies of their purchased works.

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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