There's a lot of buzz today in Mac circles about a possible new French law that would force Apple to open its iTunes online music store and enable consumers to download songs onto devices other than the computer maker's popular iPod player
. Reuters says of the proposed law:
Under a draft law expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.
It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management -- the codes that protect music, films and other content -- if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.
Sure, Apple could just close it's French presence, but the law is much bigger than that. This is big news, not just for Apple, but for anyone trafficking in DRM-protected media that wants to do business in France. Assuming the Reuters report is correct and the law shall not be iTunes-specific, this seems like the kind of issue that could become a major trade and copyright issue for the US and France. And how far does the law go? Reuters quotes Vanneste as saying "It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up ... You have to be able to download content and play it on any device." Does this mean WMV files? DVDs? Ringtones? It is a potentially huge step in the ongoing re-definition of copyrights.