Cherchez Le "State-Sponsored Piracy"!


The United States' oldest enemy is poised to deliver a savate-style kick in the groin to Apple:

On Tuesday French lawmakers voted 296 to 193 in support of a law that would stop Apple, plus any other firm selling music downloads, using proprietary software to limit what people can do with tracks they have bought.

The draft law now goes to the Senate—the upper house of the French parliament—for final approval before it gets on to the statute books.

If the draft becomes French law it will mean that firms selling music must make available information about the software they use to stop songs being copied—so-called Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems.

Apple's response? This is "state-sponosored piracy." And: "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

More here.

NEXT: Two and a Half Men? Try One Man With the Courage of At Least 1.25

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Apple and the others would be justified in pulling their products from France. Whether they have the cajones to do so is another matter. Forcing them to open their software is akin to forcing another successful product, Coca-Cola, to divulge its secret recipe. Because it’s just not fair, you see, that Coke is so darn popular. How can the lesser colas compete? France must protect the public from freely and willingly dealing with Apple.

  2. Ed,

    Not that I’m 100% anti-DRM, but, come on. It’s not the same thing as Coke’s secret recipe (hint: it’s got something to do with caramel!)

    A more apt analogy would be, Coke installs special microchips in their cans and bottles that prevent you from sharing your Coke with your friends. You, and only you, are allowed to take a sip. When anyone else puts their lips to one of your cans/bottles, they snap shut.

  3. Apple sold its billionth download in February. That’s a billion votes for its product. A billion voluntary purchases. Who, exactly, is being abused here, if it isn’t individuals who somehow claim a “right” to alter a product they didn’t invent? Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

  4. Steve’s just bending over for the entertainment industry and being a control monger. I doubt he much cares about their IP rights but then again he’s just providing a product some people want. There are plenty of utilities available on the web for removing the encryption from iTunes music anyway.

    I thought online music available for purchase is what mainly contributes to online music SALES, not DRM. I guess emusic doesn’t really exist and They Might Be Giants and Frank Zappa et al. are going broke…not.

    Obviously, DRM-Free is not equivalent to piracy– neither is casual copying (ie. making a mix CD for a friend). What an asshole.

    Has anybody answered definitively whether or not selling the plain bits themselves leads to more “piracy” than selling DRMed ones? Suppose some copying could lead ultimately to more sales.

    These people also need to be reminded that every “pirate” copy does not correspond to a lost sale. There are things people will take for free that they’d never buy in a trillion years.

    Perhaps the gov’t will mandate DRM for any work to be considered copyrighted. Leaving it plain text will then be tacit admission of its public domain status.

  5. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

    Agreed…I don’t and never will.

    It think if they wish to have low “piracy” with plain bits they should sell songs for much less than $1.00. They no longer have the other expenses associated with producing a physical disk and should remove that cost.

    At a dollar a song that can easily add up to more than the cost of a CD for most of an album (don’t they have a special rate for full album purchase?) and buying the CD lets you have control over how you use it with better sound quality to boot.

    I see no incentive to use iTunes if you actually want to have a collection of your own. I guess it’s best for disposable pop junk.

  6. On the one hand, this is a battle in which I fervently wish both sides could lose.

    But it’s just one more reminder that the concept of music companies as the gateway for content is long obsolete.

  7. yet another arena where bad initial government interference in the market begets even worse government interference in the market.

    The best resolution would be to allow DRM or whatever else the sellers want to put into the contract/product, while limiting copyright enforcement to contract law – the seller can sue the buyer if he violates the contract (i.e., allows copying of what he purchased by third parties, if that is prohibited in the contract of sale), but not a third party. Let the sellers determine what measures to protect their investment are worth paying for, and let them live with the consequences of their decision.

    Instead, France is going the opposite direction. Big shock.

  8. Does anyone really think Apple (or anyone else) could’ve convinced the record companies into letting them sell DRM-Free downloads? Hell the Sony rootkit fiasco shows just how far the record companies are willing to go to “secure” their product.

    So what does France expect, Apple will now adopt Microsoft’s DRM because it’ll play on other protables? License Fairplay to Samsung and Sony so they can undercut them on price after Apple has done all the groundwork? I just hope, as someone else said, that Apple has the cojones to just pull out of France. Think of all those angry out of work French young people…

  9. “Whether they have the cajones to do so is another matter.”

    “Cajones” means “boxes.” I think you meant “balls,” so that’s spelled “Cojones” with two “O”s.

    I’m sorry, but if you’re going to try to co-opt foreign words into your vocabulary, have the decency to spell them correctly.

  10. “Caja” mean “box”.
    “Cajas” means “boxes”.
    “Caj?n” means “big box”.
    “Caj?nes” means “big boxes”.

    Nonetheless I still believe it refers to tus huevos. If you go by the English connotation of “box” then…

  11. Should be “Cajones” (no accent).

    “Cojones” is indeed incorrect spelling…but then again I misspelled it as well.

  12. I think you’re all misunderstanding what this law would require. It would not require DRM-free downloads (and, in fact, software to strip DRM from iTunes songs can be found — and you can do it yourself by burning and re-ripping the songs).

    What this law would require would be documentation of the DRM system so that other vendors could make their devices compatible with the iTunes store and other on-line music stores could sell songs to iPod owners using compatible DRM. Other vendors can already figure out how to do this by reverse engineering, actually, but the law would protect them from Apple’s legal department as well as restraining Apple from taking technical contermeasures against companies that have achived interoperability. I believe that’s the idea, anyway, not DRM-free copying (which is already possible).

  13. well, Slocum beat me to it…

    the legislation is designed to legally protect other companies who want to be able to play (legally bought and covered by DRM) iTunes songs on their devices, not protect people who remove the copy protection.

  14. Should be “Cajones” (no accent)

    Mi mama just called ’em albondigas

  15. Should be “Cajones” (no accent)


    And anyway, the French have couilles, not cojones.

  16. I suppose if the French didn’t take care of this so quickly they might see more rioting by unemployed, disaffected Moslem youths this summer. Whew, that was a close one.

  17. State-sponsored piracy? Wouldn’t that be privateering?

    Bring back Letters of Marque and Reprisal!

  18. They’re just making room in the market for the new French music service, founded by former arch-villain Batroc ze Leepair, master of, yes, savate.

  19. “I guess it’s best for disposable pop junk.”

    actually, you can get some really wicked shit in the itunes music store.

    which i do sometimes. at quite nice quality. etc.

  20. Isn’t this the same French government that keeps passing laws to restrict U.S. cultural imperialism?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.