1
   

France vs iPod! Format compatibility, Piracy/copyright law

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 19 Mar, 2006 09:11 am
Sounds like an interesting development that simultaneously relates to a bunch of 'hot' topics. Many of them I can not estimate just what exactly it might all entail. Comments?

Quote:
France debates new tunes for iPod

By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune

FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2006

[..] A bill under debate in the French National Assembly may require iPods to be able to play music purchased from competing Internet services, not just Apple Computer's own iTunes Music Store, and force changes in the business model that sparked the revolution in legal digital music downloads.

The outcome of the debate over what began as an update to French copyright law is far from clear. But taken to one logical conclusion, the amendments in Parliament could lead Apple, the market leader, to leave the French music business, said Jonathan Arber, a research analyst in London at the technology consultancy Ovum.

"My gut feeling is that Apple will simply pull out of France if these amendments get through," Arber said. "Weighed against breaking their business model for all markets, it doesn't make sense for Apple to continue operating with the iPod and iTunes in France."

Debate lasted late into Thursday night; a vote in the National Assembly is set for next week. The bill, which also proposes to turn individual digital piracy into a misdemeanor no more serious than a parking ticket, would next go to the Senate, where it is unlikely to face major change, political analysts say.

"Possible outcomes of this French law range from a destruction of copyright protection technology and the iTunes model - to something of little impact," said Olivia Regnier, who represents record companies as European regional counsel for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

"No matter what the French Parliament decides, changes will have an impact across borders," she said, since e-commerce is easily conducted across borders.

Various critics say the plan is technically unworkable, unfairly undermines Apple and opens the door to more piracy by crippling technology that protects copyrights. Supporters see France setting a long-overdue legal precedent that opens Apple's closed iPod-iTunes digital music system to competition.

Apple would not comment on the legislation. Led by Steve Jobs, the chief executive, Apple persuaded the world's major record labels in 2003 to sell songs over the Internet at 99 cents each through the iTunes Music Store.

But the price of making it inexpensive, easy and attractive for consumers to buy online - rather than sharing songs on the Internet without compensating record companies or musicians - was the use of Apple's proprietary formats, making song buyers beholden to Apple and its iPods portable music players.

Now, there is a thriving digital download business worth $1.1 billion and 420 million tracks last year, and iPods account for more than 70 percent of the total devices sold. Music industry executives' broad backing of Apple has turned into public and private griping over the company's control over the price of iTunes downloads and the domination of the highly profitable iPod, at what they see as the industry's expense.

"The French government's approach is bold and the only one that makes sense," said Michael Bartholomew, the director of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association, a trade group based in Brussels.

"Just ask my 14-year-old, who bought music from another system and cannot play it on his iPod," said Bartholomew, who added that operators would benefit if more people exchanged music over their networks.

The amendments, supported by the government of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and tagged onto the so- called author's rights law, originate in part from a European view of the economy that makes it more acceptable for governments to order competition in the marketplace for the benefit of consumers than in the United States.

"Beyond making music compatible," said Martin Rogard, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture, explaining the government position, "we are very favorable toward open-source software and think that free software should be interoperable with software that you purchase."

Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the minister of culture, told the Paris newspaper Libération, "I want to give the Internet world and the cultural industries a secure legal structure to permit a real development - or even explosion - of online cultural offerings." He added, "Everyone will be able to choose."

In a similar vein, the European Union's antitrust officials, saying that Microsoft had abused its monopoly in computer operating systems, in 2004 ordered the company, based in Redmond, Washington, to offer a version of Windows stripped of its music and video player to allow rivals access to the ubiquitous Windows desktop. Microsoft is appealing the decision.

France is, after Britain and Germany, the third-largest digital music market in Europe, according to GfK, a market research company based in Nuremberg, Germany. Downloads in France last year totaled 20 million songs worth €19.3 million, or $23.5 million, while 4.7 million digital music players were sold, it said.

As of Thursday, the copyright bill still had more than 400 amendments, many of them having to do with device interoperability. The most prominently affected device would be the iPod, but Sony's Walkman digital music players operate on a similar principle. In both cases, purchased online music can be transferred to the hardware only from a site owned by the same company - the iTunes Music Store for iPods and Sony Connect for the Walkman. Sony declined to comment.

"This is totally unfair for consumers who want to buy music from other services," said Stanislas Hintzy, managing director of OD2 for France and Belgium, a digital music wholesaler operating 10 music sales sites in France, including one for the national television station M6. "It is not right for iPod owners to be stopped from buying, for example, the latest performances from the French version of 'Pop Idol' that I sell," referring to the M6 TV show.

Microsoft licenses its digital music format, called WMA, to any company willing to pay for it and has thus become the second-most widely used music format after MP3s. Most non-Apple digital music players, like those produced by Samsung, Creative and Archos, allow WMA songs, while most online music merchants, like RealNetworks' Rhapsody, America Online's Music Now and Napster sell songs in that format.

"Microsoft encourages anyone in the market to license their format and platform," said Fabrice Milhoud, a spokesman for the company, which would stand to gain if iPod users could download WMA songs from non-iTunes stores. "We support consumers buying from any provider for any digital music player."

Technically, the French government's aim of making music playable on all digital devices is challenging at the least, said Mark MacGann, director general of the European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association, a trade group in Brussels.

"From a technical perspective, it is extremely complex to get these devices and services to speak with one another," MacGann said.

In addition, the cross-border implications are enormous, he said. "Governments cannot operate in a technology policy vacuum with a global industry," he added, saying that decisions should be made at least on a European level. "You cannot decide overnight to create a nirvana."

Concerns about the technology go beyond whether it is physically possible to make the systems work together. Apple's FairPlay technology and Microsoft's Windows Media build restraints into digital music so that copyright holders are compensated for sales and so that digital copies are limited. Forcing compatibility between the systems may end up overriding those protections and encouraging piracy, Regnier, of the recording industry group, said.

"Our main concern is maintaining the integrity of anti-piracy technology," Regnier said. "We want technology that enables very flexible use to encourage music sales, such as opening up iTunes, while also ensuring copyright holders are protected."

If Apple would take the same licensing approach to FairPlay that Microsoft does with Windows Media, legislating compatibility would not be necessary, she said.

"It should be the responsibility of the companies to make sure their digital music players work with music from all platforms," Regnier said.

Hintzy of OD2 agreed.

"If we want to stop pirates, we must make sure that iPod users can buy music from more places than just Apple," he said. "The only format that currently works on all these players is the MP3 format and that is 100 percent unprotected."
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,616 • Replies: 15
No top replies

 
Monger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Mar, 2006 02:59 pm
Very glad to see this happenning. It'll be interesting to see how the anti-Microsoft hordes who've so praised Europe's anti-trust decision against the company will take this if it does indeed go through.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Mar, 2006 03:44 pm
Since I don't know what the "other competeing services" are to iTunes I'm don't understand what the bitch is here against Applie.

The iPod can play back any music downloaded in Apple's AAC format, standard AAC, MP3, WAV or AIFF formats.

From what I can glean from this article it sounds to me that the problem is with the "other service" and not the iPod. If the service doesn't offer the music in standard formats like MP3 who's fault is that??? If I come up with my own music service and create my own format will the French government pass a law that requires every other digital music player to be able to play back my format?
0 Replies
 
Monger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Mar, 2006 07:36 pm
The primary format competing with AAC is of course WMA (since no one is able to legally sell music by the big labels in unprotected MP3 format), with dozens of competing services offering music in WMA format, and hundreds of MP3 players (just about everything other than iPods) supporting it. But then of course, if Apple would allow such companies to license AAC for use with music sales and MP3 players, many would quickly add support for it.

I was never an iPod fan until the release of the Nano (the features in Creative's MP3 players still easily beat anything offered by Apple), and I've owned several non-Apple MP3 players, so this issue has always affected me.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Mar, 2006 08:50 pm
Ah, that sheds some light on things. Wink The whole ting still really doens't make much sense though. Why force Apple to support WMA? Why not force those selling the music to siupport Apple's ACC format? (obviously it's easier to target one company than it is several dozen..)

It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.
0 Replies
 
Monger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Mar, 2006 12:00 pm
fishin' wrote:
Why not force those selling the music to siupport Apple's ACC format?

It would certainly be nice if other companies had the ability to offer music in Apple's format and make their MP3 players work with Apple's format, but Apple doesn't allow that, even though companies are willing to pay for the licensing (the only exception is the couple Motorola phones made in partnership with Apple). Changing this would break their customer lock-in through proprietary methods business model. Apple goes well beyond Microsoft is this regard.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Mar, 2006 04:04 pm
There was a article on this story on CNN's oneyline today that added som einsight into the overall issue.

It isn't strictly an iPod issue. A part of this is that Microsoft has pretty much locked in the European market for playing music or videos on cell phones too. They'll get hit by the same law in the exact same way.

Sounds like the French are going to try and force MS and Apple to cross-license each other's technology or make both settle on some other standard (Like the ORM 2.0 standard if the industry can ever finalize it.).
0 Replies
 
Michael S
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 07:33 am
For a long time now companies have been trying to lever market share under the guise of DRM (digital rights management). AAC, iTunes , the popularity of the iPod and their non-inclusion of WMA is Apple's attempt to do just this. They could include it without the slightest effort if they wanted to.

Recently Sony got busted trying to install a rootkit on peoples computers (XCP) and are now facing lawsuits for that and Mediamax.

Microsoft deliberately screwed up peoples Firewire800 conection by making sure it runs at 1/8 the speed it should (Microsoft champions USB not Firewire). But only when SP2 is installed , it runs fine on SP1 so I gues they hadn't got around to that "fix" yet.

The list goes on and on, and because there is so much sympathy generated and noise by the companies that claim people are illegally copying and they are lossing billions and billions of dollars, they have been a very unusal amount of freedom to protect their rights which they are now doing in many cases in a way which hurts the consumer and tramples all over their rights. In my opinion it is a really terrible development, and one I think the blame should be placed on those who think illegal copying has no consequences. Just my two pence worth.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 11:09 am
Some minutes ago, the law was adopted in first reading with 296 against 193 votes in the French parliament (lower chamber).


The bill must be now examined by the Senate (upper chamber), doubtless not before May.
0 Replies
 
vinsan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 09:10 am
This will be interesting. Anyways French iPod Users will be benefited soon.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 03:49 pm
vinsan wrote:
Anyways French iPod Users will be benefited soon.


If not being able to buy an iPod is gaining a benefit I guess I agree with you.

iTunes is Apple's cash cow - not the iPod. Apple isn't likely to lose hundreds of millions from the rest of the world to satisfy the French government and keep a market that nets them a few million.

Apple could afford to drop out of the French market. I'm not so sure Microsoft can...
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 03:56 pm
It might not be only the French market .... the EU is quite a big market :wink:
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 04:09 pm
True enough but this current case only applies to France. There are other rumblings about bringing an EU-wide case.

Either way - Apple won't be the big loser in this. Any impact on Apple will be felt 10 times harder by Microsoft.

It would actuallty be more interesting to see how this would play out on an EU-wide scale. Several European companies (Noika, Erricson, etc..) have business plans that are tightly tied to MS's DRM.
0 Replies
 
Monger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Mar, 2006 03:10 pm
fishin' wrote:
iTunes is Apple's cash cow - not the iPod.

Do you have anything to reference regarding this? I would think it's the other way around, and iTunes merely serves to lock customers into using iPods.

fishin' wrote:
Several European companies (Noika, Erricson, etc..) have business plans that are tightly tied to MS's DRM.

The difference is Microsoft makes their DRM scheme and format widely available to companies who want to use it.
0 Replies
 
vinsan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Mar, 2006 09:55 am
fishin' wrote:
vinsan wrote:
Anyways French iPod Users will be benefited soon.


If not being able to buy an iPod is gaining a benefit I guess I agree with you.

iTunes is Apple's cash cow - not the iPod. Apple isn't likely to lose hundreds of millions from the rest of the world to satisfy the French government and keep a market that nets them a few million.

Apple could afford to drop out of the French market. I'm not so sure Microsoft can...


Exactly! I forgot to post the sarcastic smiley there.

But it also means a loss to Apple. What most people don't know is about several nice MP3 players there in Market, which are better than iPod in features and functionality. What iPOD scores over them is in the style statement and in price (only in foreign countries.. they are ridiculously high in Asia though). French are crazy about iPODs. Have you ever wandered on the streets of Paris. Look how many people don't carry iPODs. A Very few.

So adding a restriction of iTunes or QuickTime Pro software which is sold for $20-25 in Market just for the sake of converting videos to "customized" iPod format, makes you feel like imprisoned.

I mean I would better use a 30GB or 60 GB Video iPOD space refraining you from playing any free videos, as an External Hard Disk. Razz
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Apr, 2006 09:24 pm
fishin' wrote:
Ah, that sheds some light on things. Wink The whole ting still really doens't make much sense though. Why force Apple to support WMA? Why not force those selling the music to siupport Apple's ACC format? (obviously it's easier to target one company than it is several dozen..)

It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.


Despite the article, I don't think this is about Apple supporting the DRM platforms of others so much as allowing others to support theirs.

It's not that no other manufacturer wants to support ACC, Apple refuses to license it and that is what this is all about.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Recording Detector - Question by gollum
Bad picture on my Sharp LCD TV - Question by hydroplant
LCD TV. Help! - Question by kolinos4
iPhone vs Android Platform - Discussion by Seed
p3 or 360 and why - Question by XxGWOPBOYZxX
Post your latest gizmos - Discussion by Chumly
IPOD OR ZUNE HD? - Discussion by detroittou
Giving up my iPod for a Walkman - Discussion by djjd62
Digital audio in your home sound system - Question by hingehead
 
  1. Forums
  2. » France vs iPod! Format compatibility, Piracy/copyright law
Copyright © 2020 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 09/28/2020 at 07:12:38