Feeds

Zut! France drops iTunes bombshell

Knotty DRM problem just got knottier

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

French legislation designed to give consumers greater interoperability for their copy-protected digital downloads is now set for the statute book. But the loophole designed to soften its impact looks set to send shockwaves throughout the industry.

Known colloquially as the 'iTunes Law' - even though it doesn't mention Apple - the bill was intended to break the vertical lock-in which prevents iPods from playing files locked down with Microsoft DRM, and many other MP3 players from playing files locked with Apple's DRM.

And so it does.

Except that a loophole added this month permits Apple to carry on exactly as they do today, provided they obtain the artists' permission. The wording, at least in translations we've seen, means that Apple must only obey a compulsory technical disclosure order if the DRM is "additional to, or independent of, those explicitly decided by the copyright holders".

But which copyright holders? There are three parties here - holders of the recording copyright, holders of the mechanical copyright, and the composer. The loophole implies that many of the contracts negotiated in recent years may need to be re-negotiated.

And it raises many more questions, which will be rippling down the distribution chain today.

Where does this leave the intermediaries, such as Orchard, from whom many online digital download stores acquire their music? Will artists use the opportunity as a leverage to re-negotiate their own contracts? At the very least, it swings the pendulum back towards the recording industry.

Going back to the table with the major labels may be the last thing Apple wants to do - but that isn't quite true. The last thing Apple really wants is to see its controls of the iPod franchise weakened.

For now, ignore Apple's posturing and righteous indignation: the iTunes Music Store doesn't live or die by the music it sells. It doesn't make much net income anyway, it's doing a busy trade in videos and podcasts, so songs aren't a make or break issue. But it's likely to fight interference on principle, with the same tenacity that Microsoft fought off antitrust challenges.

Barring a constitutional challenge from the Socialists and the Greens, who want a much simpler and fairer blanket license (at which point DRM would cease to become relevant), the bill is heading for the statute book. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.