France's lower house deals Apple a setback

March 21, 2006 at 5:56 PM
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PARIS, March 21 (UPI) -- French lawmakers Tuesday passed a bill to force Apple Computer Inc. to open its iTunes online music store and iPod media players to competing technologies.

The online copyright bill passed by the French National Assembly now goes to French Senate, which will debate the measure in May, MarketWatch reported.

If approved, the bill would force Apple and other companies to make public the proprietary technology behind their media players and online music sites, like Apple's iTunes music store. Currently, propriety software in digital downloads from iTunes prevents music being played by any rival MP3 music player to the popular iPod.

The public policy group American For Technology Leadership derided the French decision, calling it a "direct attack" on Apple's intellectual property, saying that one consequence could be Apple pulling its iTunes store out of the France.

An analyst with Piper Jaffray said Apple is expected to leave France, which accounts for less than 2 percent of iPod and iTunes sales, if the Senate follows the National Assembly.

Before Tuesday's vote, CompTIA, a trade association, said the initiative was the latest in a series of measures in the European Union that were "punishing inventors and stifling innovation."

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