Feeds

Zut! France drops iTunes bombshell

Knotty DRM problem just got knottier

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.