The French government has passed a law that could force Apple Computer to make songs purchased from its iTunes music store compatible with rival digital music players. The law, which will also reduce illegal downloading penalties, could come into effect within a month.
The new legislation is geared towards opening up the digital music market, creating a guaranteed interoperable network for all online music stores and digital players. Currently, songs purchased from iTunes can only be played on Apple’s iPods, which are incompatible with downloads from rival stores Sony Connect and Napster.
The French law has mandated that all downloading systems can no longer use digital rights management (DRM) software, which controls what device users can play downloaded songs on. Apple’s DRM, called FairPlay, guards against interoperability, with only Motorola being permitted a license for its use on iTunes-enabled mobile phones.
Recent amendments to the bill have provided a loophole for music e-retailers including Apple, which can continue to use DRM by gaining direct consent from artists and labels.