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French Copyright Bill Gives Apple a Break

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The French Senate approved a new copyright bill yesterday, but amended it to soften a requirement for digital music vendors such as Apple Computer to open up their DRM (digital rights management) technologies to competitors.

When the French National Assembly voted an earlier draft of the bill in March, Apple accused it of "state-sponsored piracy" because of its efforts to give music buyers freedom to choose the equipment they used to listen to tracks they had purchased. The Assembly had sought to make digital music vendors provide full details of their DRM systems to those wishing to create interoperable systems.

This would have forced Apple to provide other music store operators or music player manufacturers with details of the FairPlay technology it uses to lock tracks bought through its iTunes music store so that they will only play on an iPod, or on a computer running its iTunes jukebox software. So far, it has refused to license the technology to other vendors.

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