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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
France approves iTunes rights law
Apple's iPod music player
More than a billion downloads have been bought from iTunes
A law that could force Apple to share its digital download technology with rivals has been passed in France.

Currently, songs bought from Apple's iTunes music store can only be played on Apple-manufactured iPods.

The bill would mean any digital song could be played on any player, regardless of its format or source.

But the legislation leaves room for artists to sign deals with Apple and others, enabling them to restrict which systems their music will play on.

'State-sponsored piracy'

Under the bill, companies such as Apple, Sony and Microsoft could be made to share their proprietary copy-protection systems.

It was intended to deter piracy and ensure no single company dominated the fast-growing music download market.

In March, Apple said the law would encourage "a state-sponsored culture of piracy", and hinted that it could withdraw from the French market.

The law has been watered down and the loophole to allow artists to sign exclusive deals with individual companies was added last month.

Final stage

The bill will also create a new independent authority to decide when "interoperability" should apply.

Both the Senate and the National Assembly, France's upper and lower houses, voted in favour of the bill, the final stage before it becomes law.

More than one billion downloads have been purchased from the iTunes store since it was set up three years ago.

The legislation also includes anti-piracy measures threatening fines of thousands of euros and prison sentences for professional copiers.


SEE ALSO
Apple gets French iTunes reprieve
22 Jun 06 |  Business
French fight copyright proposals
08 May 06 |  Entertainment
Rights and wrongs of the digital age
18 Apr 06 |  Technology
Apple attacks plan to open iTunes
22 Mar 06 |  Technology
French MPs vote to open up iTunes
21 Mar 06 |  Technology
iTunes achieves one billion mark
25 Feb 06 |  Entertainment

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