According to CNet, it appears that the French have backed down on passing legislation which would have forced Apple to open its DRM if it wanted to continue selling music online in France.
The background to this is that all the music which Apple sells online through its iTunes stores has Apple DRM software applied to it stopping the music from being played on any device other than an iPod. France proposed to pass a law recently which would have outlawed the use of DRM to restrict the playing of music to specific devices. As the market leader, this would have hit Apple hardest but other online music vendors were also in the firing line.
On hearing of the law, Apple commented that this was state sponsored piracy! There was talk that Apple would close down its iTunes store in France. Indeed, it may have been forced to as Apple has more than likely signed deals with the music publishers which only allows it to distribute music with DRM.
Now, however, it appears that the law has been considerably watered down by the French senate. According to Ars Technica:
Most of the consumer-friendly provisions in the legislation have since been removed or rewritten. To see how this worked, consider the following examples:
Previously, “information needed for interoperability” covered “technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a copy in an open standard of the copyrighted work, along with its legal information.” Now this has been changed to “technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a protected copy of a copyrighted work.” But a “protected” version of the work can’t be played back in a different player, which means interoperability won’t be attained with this clause.
Previously, the only condition for receiving information needed for interoperability was to meet the cost of logistics of delivering the information. Now, anyone wanting to build a player will have to take a license on “reasonable and non discriminatory conditions, and an appropriate fee.” When using information attained under such a license, you will have to “respect the efficiency and integrity of the technical measure.”
DRM publishers can demand the retraction of publication of the source-code for interoperable, independent software, if it can prove that the source-code is “harmful to the security and the efficiency of the DRM.”
France is pushing through a law that would force Apple Computer Inc to open its iTunes online music store and enable consumers to download songs onto devices other than the computer maker’s popular iPod player.
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.
“It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up … You have to be able to download content and play it on any device,” Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.
What I should have said in the interview is that Apple may be forced to close the iTunes Store if this law is passed. My understanding is that Apple are required by their agreements with the recording industry to put DRM on the music. Of course if they did have to close their store, I imagine the sales of music for allofmp3.com in France would soar!
I muddled through the interview but if any of you want to hear what I sound like when the interview mike is pointed the other direction (it isn’t pretty!) – I’ll be on sometime between 6pm and 6:30pm I was told.
Steve Jobs has managed to sell Pixar Animation Studios to Disney for $7.4 billion in stock. As part of the deal, Pixar shareholders will receive 2.3 Disney shares for every Pixar share they own. Steve Jobs currently owns 50.6% of Pixar so this deal will mean that Steve jobs is going to become the single largest share holder in Disney!
I guess that means Steve has a lot more content for his iTunes Store!
Yahoo! have posted a nice instruction set on their blog, detailing how to subscribe your copy of iTunes to video searches of interest so that you are constantly fed relevant updated video casts!
Basically, to do it you simply use the RSS url generator to generate the RSS feed for your video search, add that to iTunes and watch the videos as they arrive in iTunes (or if you have one of the new Video iPods, you can watch them on that!).
I will be talking about other uses for RSS tomorrow evening at the IT@Cork RSS event – hope to see you there!
Apple, after much anticipation, released the video iPod at their “one More Thing…” event in San Jose today.
The new model is 30 percent thinner than previous models, has a larger 2.5-inch QVGA display with 324 x 240 resolution, at 30fps, 260,000 color 2.5-inch display, H.264 support, and either a 30 or 60GB hard drive allowing up to 150 hours of video.
A new version of iTunes (version 6) has been released to con-incide with this launch. iTunes 6 will allow download of music videos, and tv shows (like Desperate housewives and Lost! – you hated them on TV – you can now hate them even more on your video iPod!).
The new iTunes also has built in functionality for:
Buying songs for friends
Recommendations based on previous purchases
Videos will cost $1.99 each.
Engadget have more here and Cnet have coverage here.
Jim Dalrymple writing in macWorld, got a response from Apple about the iPod Nano screen scratching problem I mentioned here a couple of days ago.
On Apple’s own Discussions site – the number of posts complaining about the screen scratch problem was 583 when the Register checked, and when I had a look this morning, that number was up to 704!
What are Apple saying about this serious quality issue with one of their flagship products? Well according to Appleâ€™s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller:
We have received very few calls from customers reporting this problem â€“ we do not think this is a widespread issue. If customers are concerned about scratching we suggest they use one of the many iPod nano cases to protect their iPod.
Sorry, what? Why not just tell people to leave it in the box? Or better yet – leave it in the store window.
I have a feeling that’s the decision more and more potential iPod customers will make.
The Discussion on Apple’s Discussion site about this problem has been closed (no new posts allowed after 704 posts) – several posters were complaining about posts having been deleted.
Record labels – the only companies more reviled than insurance companies, are obviously getting desperate now. They are looking enviously at the income coming to Apple from iTunes music sales and from Apple’s iPod sales and want for a larger slice of the action.
Now they say Apple should share the revenue from iPod sales with them! No seriously, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman contends that if if Apple is â€œartificiallyâ€? keeping the price of downloads low to promote sales of iPods, then as he sees it, the labels should get to â€œshare in those [iPod] revenue streams.â€? Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
I think what they are really afraid of is that someday the artists will go directly to iTunes, bypassing the labels, for distribution – the sooner the better!