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Parts of French 'iPod Law' Struck Down

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the have-to-protect-that-drm dept.

49

idobi writes "Parts of the French 'iPod law' have been struck down. The French Constitutional Council found certain aspects of the law to be troubling and a violation of copyright... not the copyright of artists, but companies' copyright of their DRM software." From the article: "In particular, the council eliminated reduced fines for file sharing and said companies could not be forced, without compensation, to make music sold online compatible with any music device. The law, which had been approved by the French Senate and National Assembly last month, was brought for review by the council following the demand of more than 100 members of the National Assembly. The council's review of whether the law fits within the French Constitution's framework is one of the final steps before a law is promulgated. Now it could take effect as altered by the council, or the government could bring it once more before the Parliament."

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49 comments

Apparently it's old already! (0, Offtopic)

isecore (132059) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807276)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Dropping the other shoe... (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807279)

The fact that DRM might by copyrightable seems disturbing. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Although I'm sure the lawyers will be happy enough to make money trying to figure that out and not anytime soon.

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (5, Insightful)

irtza (893217) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807326)

DRM exists as software and should thus be afforded the same rights as other software. What the French gov't could have done is something similar to what Europe did with the wireless signals. Propose a mandatory format for sellers of digital music to use. This would not limit companies or peoples ability to write and protect their own formats, but it would essentially force the hands of manufacturers to use this format in France. It would break any would be monopoly. Part of the role of government is to foster trade and communication. Allowing the formats to be dictated by corporations essentially removes this power from the government and hands it to a private entity. Its the same difference between forcing MS to make the word file format open or mandating that word processors be able to save and open in a standard format. The first infringes on the rights of MS while the other gives MS a choice to comply. Stealing the works of a monopoly whether it be Apple, MS or IBM is not the best way to do things because it does discriminate. France should have set some sort of standard for the exchange of digital music and all this fuss would have been avoided.

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (3, Interesting)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807417)

What the French gov't could have done is something similar to what Europe did with the wireless signals. Propose a mandatory format for sellers of digital music to use.

Not that simple, I'm afraid. DRM is not a format, it is essentially a way to handle encryption keys. Should the government choose - say - AAC or WMA as the mandatory format for online music sellers, it would still not ensure interoperatbility. The problem is not in the fact that iTMS sells AAC files, the problem is in the way they are encrypted and in the way the encryption keys are distributed. I can imagine one potential way to ensure interoperability - Apple (and other vendors) could be legally obliged to issue keys to vendors of other portable players. Just as the iPod has its "own" key repository, I think in theory - say - Creative could have a similar repository on their players. I think you could imagine a law that would require every vendor of DRM-encrypted multimedia to deliver keys to any bona fide player vendor. Such a law would satisfy both the major music corporations and the player manufacturers (not to mention us the users, proles of the digital age).

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (1)

irtza (893217) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808000)

You make a good point.

I suppose part of what I meant by control was that the government should be the one in control of the keys for the devices. Copy controls completely in the hands of corporations will ultimately lead to "rental" of all intellectual property. There is a strong shift in intellectual property rights away from the commons towards corporate control of data. I wouldn't even say that the shift is towards the creators of data because independent artists will not have equal access to DRM technology. Short of an independent body that could implement equal barriers for corporations and individuals - placement of encryption key control with the same corporations that currently distribute media only consolidates their control in the future. The greatest benefit of digital distribution should be the ability of artists to directly sell their goods with the protection of DRM, but without the requrement that they sell their soul to a record label to make decent money from this.

What I would like to see is a standard for the excryption algorithms used and a central key repository controlled by a "trusted" agency - someone held accountable by the people. This is in essence a government function imo. I know people have opposition to government intervention, but surprisingly these people also don't vote and take no action to hold THEIR representatives accountable. Anyways, I've ranted for long enough.

Forced to share, but with whom? (3, Insightful)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808163)

I think you could imagine a law that would require every vendor of DRM-encrypted multimedia to deliver keys to any bona fide player vendor.

Ah, but there's the rub -- who's a bona fide manufacturer? Every chump and competitor who comes along? How about Mr. Knock-off Manufacturer who would then have the "keys" to your entire customer base? What about the small guy? How small is too small? So many issues involved when you're forced to share your technology with anyone who asks, but not to just anyone (because then that would just enable anybody to defeat the DRM essentially). It seems like the simplest solution here is to maintain the status quo but not prosecute DRM-stripping or -defeating utilities for personal use.

Not using DRM is a format! (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808545)

Yes but it is easy to just define the common music exchange format to be MP3 or some custom format without any DRM technology. A law like this doesn't merely specify that the bits of the file must satisfy some formal feature but the actual content is encoded in the format specified. That means you couldn't just pack encrypted information in a standard mp3 file and say it was in mp3 format.

Or more sneakily they could mandage a certain format for DRM that has already been broken and refuse to outlaw the use of software to break that DRM for valid uses.

Re:Not using DRM is a format! (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#15817466)

They could, but the government of France has no interest in eliminating copyright. If they did, why be sneaky about it at all? If they had the motives they'd need to have to do what you suggest, it would be far more logical to just abolish copyright altogether, or to abolish copyright on music or whatever content they deem no longer worthy of protection.

Their objection is not to DRM, but to Apple's sale of DRMed content that won't play on competitors' devices.

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807454)

You're assuming of course that Apple has a monopology on the music device market, which is utterly untrue. So it's not an example of monopology busting, but rather of needless government meddling in the consumer market. If people don't want to buy iPods and use its proprietary format, they don't have to. Buy another device. Trying to force it through legislation seems completely wrong-headed. If a manufacturer wants to use a non-standard protocol or format, that's their business, as long as it isn't an abuse of monopology power for anti-competetive purposes. Besides, what happens when a new and arguably better protocol or format comes along? Does the company need to ask the government for permission to innovate? Please, Mr. Dirigiste Government, can I produce a better product?

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (4, Funny)

a16 (783096) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807377)

The fact that DRM might by copyrightable seems disturbing.

Does that mean I can pirate DRM? How long before rights management has it's own DRM. And then we need DRM for the DRM of the DRM :)

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (1, Interesting)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807837)

Actually, that's not so far fetched. Part of the reason personal DVD-ripping is such a gray area is that most DVD-rippers use a backwards-engineered version of the Content Scrambling System, thus (it is argued) their distribution is tantamount to DRM piracy.

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15810003)

That's what DMCA is: a DRM for DRM. It's a legal protection against the piracy of a technical protection against piracy.

Then, the DRM for the DRM of the DRM is jail. Because of jail, you don't want to break the DMCA. And since breaking out of jail is hard and risky, we probably don't need another layer of DRM :)

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (4, Insightful)

tambo (310170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807508)

The fact that DRM might by copyrightable seems disturbing.

I share your concern, but not quite the way you put it.

Modern versions of computer-based DRM are simply software implementations, and are completely copyrightable under any modern body of copyright law. The philosophy here is that every batch of code is an "expression" of the underlying ideas, and that "expression" should be protected against unauthorized copying, derivation, etc. No real surprises there.

(Aside: I happen to disagree vehemently with this notion. I believe that software needs some kind of copying protection, but I don't buy this line about "expression" for most software works. But that's a discussion for a different thread.)

Also incorrect is the comment in the summary that the iPod law somehow violated "companies' copyright of their DRM software." That's completely wrong. The issue has nothing to do with the copyright over the DRM software. Is anyone "copying" the DRM software? Is anyone "deriving" it, or "publicly performing" it? The article makes no reference to the DRM software. In other words, the submitter is wildly off-track in mentioning it.

Fortunately, the submitter did choose the right buzz-clip to describe the meat of the issue: "[T]he council eliminated reduced fines for file sharing and said companies could not be forced, without compensation, to make music sold online compatible with any music device."

Now, here's what's wrong with that, and here's why you should be troubled.

The iPod law "forced" no one to do anything. Apple to take any action to maintain compliance with French law, nor was it threatened with criminal penalties for not opening iTunes to other MP3 players. Apple could have responded by doing nothing, and the law would have been A-OK with its inaction.

Rather, explicitly permitted users to engage in format translation - in order to transfer their iTunes music to a non-iPod MP3 device. If you want to use the word "force," then the law merely stopped forcing users to follow Apple's business model. As a consequence, Apple may have felt compelled to change iTunes in undesirable ways for its own business reasons, but that's completely different from a "forcing" law.

The disturbing thing here is the French Constitutional Council's summary of this law. By using the term "without compensation," they're characterizing it as an uncompensated governmental taking - a limitation of the copyright over music sold via iTunes. That's completely bogus.

Copyright is a property right offered by a government. Artists only enjoy the rights associated with copyright because the government provides them; no one is "entitled" to any particular right under copyright. In other words, government is free to extend or restrict the scope of copyright as it sees fit. Even under the U.S. Constitution, artists are entitled only to have some form of copyright protection available; they have no right to any particular form over any other.) Also, copyright law is a "social contract" between artists and the public - which the government should have very broad power to define, and adjust as necessary.

A useful analogy here is zoning law. You have a strong property right to the use of your land. However, a local government may restrict your use of it through zoning law - it may even re-zone your land to declare your current use illegal. This modification of your property rights is not a "taking." (Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.) You are not due any compensation. Rather, your property rights as a whole are protected from uncompensated seizure, but some specific details of your property rights are subject to state law.

Now, why is this troubling? Apparently, the French Constitutional Council has exercised its power to declare a law unconstitutional on a very flawed understanding of intellectual property law. The likely basis is political pressure: it sought to redress the perceived grievance of the iPod law against Apple's business model. But by couching its political decision in constitutional language, the French Constitutional Council has placed the rights of tech companies over the right of the French federal government to define the metes and bounds of copyright law. The French government now has some vague "constitutional" fetters against its broad power to adjust French copyright law. And, of course, those fetters operate exclusively in favor of copyright owners. Once again - as is the trend in modern IP law - the public loses for political reasons.

It's a bad day for both the government and the public when that happens.

- David Stein

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808640)

Uhh it *might* be true that the software implementation is unpatentable but likely in this case the DRM would be at least patentable. RSA, for instance, was under patent.

Either way one gets the same result.

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (1)

tambo (310170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15809023)

Uhh it *might* be true that the software implementation is unpatentable but likely in this case the DRM would be at least patentable. RSA, for instance, was under patent.

Who wrote anything about patents? That word doesn't appear in the original article, the article summary, the comment that I wrote - or anywhere else in this argument.

Copyrights and patents are 100% different forms of IP. In fact, they're usually mutually exclusive: most "inventions" are either functional concepts (hence patentable) or nonfunctional artistic expressions (hence copyrightable.) Even in software, they ostensibly cover different features: the functional concepts are patentable, and the particular way in which the programmer chose to express those concepts - the source code - may be copyrightable. But even here, the different forms of IP apply to different aspects: the invention, vs. an expressive representation of the invention.

(The only real area of overlap is the "design patent," a strange beast that no one truly understands.)

- David Stein

Re:Dropping the other shoe... (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15811236)

Why don't you write to the EU. Nothing against informed slashposts.... Nothing against the DRM article. But regularly the EU consults citizens and lobbyists [europa.eu] , also on DRM [europa.eu] (see also another intresting consultation [eu.int] ). And who will participate? Only few lobbyists while the users discuss with each other on public news sites.

No wonder legislature looks bad. You do not need to explain the details of what is going wrong. The core issue is to improve legislature and shift power back to the users.

Now, the questionaire of the content consultation also covers DRM [europa.eu] .

Here is the questionaire [europa.eu]


Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs) involve technologies that identify and
describe digital content protected by intellectual property rights. While DRMs are
essentially technologies which provide for the management of rights and payments, they
also help to prevent unauthorised use.

25. Do you use Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs) or intend to do so? If you do
not use any, why not? Do you consider DRMs an appropriate means to manage and
secure the distribution of copyrighted material in the online environment?

26. Do you have access to robust DRM systems providing what you consider to be an
appropriate level of protection? If not, what is the reason for that? What are the
consequences for you of not having access to a robust DRM system?

27. In the sector and in the country or countries you operate in, are DRMs widely used?
Are these systems sufficiently transparent to creators and consumers? Are the systems
used user-friendly?

28. Do you use copy protection measures? To what extent is such copy protection
accepted by others in the sector and in the country or countries you operate in?

29. Are there any other issues concerning DRMs you would like to raise, such as
governance, trust models and compliance, interoperability?


Imprisonment for copyright infringement (2, Interesting)

Quiberon (633716) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807289)

Is 'imprisonment for copyright infringement' something the state does on its own account, or is it something that some private individual or corporation asks to happen ?

Would Sam Palmisano now be in fear of time in Sing-Sing if SCO won their case, if this kind of law held in the USA ?

Re:Imprisonment for copyright infringement (1)

flooey (695860) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807429)

Is 'imprisonment for copyright infringement' something the state does on its own account, or is it something that some private individual or corporation asks to happen ?
Would Sam Palmisano now be in fear of time in Sing-Sing if SCO won their case, if this kind of law held in the USA ?


At least in the US, there are two kinds of copyright infringement, criminal and civil. The government is in charge of pursuing the criminal kind, which is things like large DVD counterfeiting chains and can carry jail terms, and copyright holders sue people for civil violations, which is stuff like individual file sharers and is punishable by monetary damages and other civil remedies. The SCO case is a civil suit, so there aren't jail terms involved.

Re:Imprisonment for copyright infringement (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807632)

The government is in charge of pursuing the criminal kind, which is things like large DVD counterfeiting chains and can carry jail terms, and copyright holders sue people for civil violations, which is stuff like individual file sharers and is punishable by monetary damages and other civil remedies

The NET Act (ca 1997) removed the profit motive as an element of the offense. The feds aren't interested in prosecuting small timers. But an operation on the scale of The Pirate Bay would be nuts.

Re:Imprisonment for copyright infringement (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807432)

Is 'imprisonment for copyright infringement' something the state does on its own account, or is it something that some private individual or corporation asks to happen ?

I don't know, is imprisonment for theft of property such as a car something the state does on its own account for violation of criminal laws?

Re:Imprisonment for copyright infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807561)

I don't know, is imprisonment for theft of property such as a car something the state does on its own account for violation of criminal laws?

In the UK, yes. I would imagine it is in other countries too. If the police caught Bill gates stealing cars then he would be arrested and tried, with a custodial sentence likely. Obviously, this wouldn't happen for any of the occasions when he's infringed copyright.

copyright infringement ? No : conterfeiting ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807572)

Is 'imprisonment for copyright infringement' something the state does on its own account, or is it something that some private individual or corporation asks to happen ?

Well, it's not copyright infringement anymore. With this french law, it's now counterfeiting. And yes, criminal counterfeiters get jail time.

And what's more, there is no exception outside of what the license or the (now protected) DRM system allows you to do.

Yes, you read it right: no interoperability or reverse engineering exception. Quite a bad law don't you think ?

Ideas not copyrightable (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807294)

Don't the French have the concept of an idea not being copyrightable, but only implementations? Then there is the issue of the noncopyrightability due to the nature of the underlying materials involved. I forget the term for it, but someone brought it up in an earlier Slashdot discussion.

Re:Ideas not copyrightable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813414)

>Don't the French have the concept of an idea not being copyrightable, but only implementations?
nope. You probably think of patentability rather than copy rights. The scope of a patent fall somewhere between a generic procedure (say a fast fourier transform) and a non-designed piece of hardware (say a DNA sequence). Copy rights apply to creations such as art. The simple fact that most industrial software is protected as if it was some inspired pice of artistic expression whould bother not only the french...

WTF? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807372)

In particular, the council eliminated reduced fines for file sharing

So the French have a constitutional requirement for a particular level of fines for copyright infringement? This is insane. Is there anything their parliament DOES have power over?

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

Quiberon (633716) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807419)

Well, no, but apparently there is a right for all to be equal before the law. And if they make a criminal offence of 'distribution without permission' (which seems a pretty stupid criminal offence, to me, but then I'm not french), then the punishment looks like it has to be a function of how many you distributed, but not how much money you got paid.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15808945)

News just in that the French parliament is discussing some new drapes for the lobby.

Mod article -1 Uninformed, Completely WRONG (4, Informative)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807463)

OK, I'm used to it now. It never was "iTunes Law" for starters (ie, it was not focalizing on iTunes, iPod or iPod at all), but well... I'm trying to reply fast enough so the average Slashdot reader will know this article is full of shit, just like the whole law. The fines aren't reduced, they just say you can fine someone for "stealing" someone's work, so it's back just as before assimilated as counterfeiting (3 years of jail, 300kEUR of fines max). They also removed each and every exception to DRM circumventing (no interoperability exception, and that's bad for F/OSS here in France -- yeah, VLC is a french video player and they are pretty pissed). This law (badly transcribed from the EUCD european directive, which is itself the European DMCA) is actually worse than the DMCA. The good news is the Government is pretty fucked up too (they wanted to fine downloaders while avoiding to alienate the 10M french downloaders), and that it's actually such an authoritatian law that it won't last long (the next year, we'll have a new President and Government and if they want to win the elections, they'll have to promise to remove this piece of shit). This Government is so fucked up and corrupted anyway, nobody here is surprised.

Re:Mod article -1 Uninformed, Completely WRONG (1)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807487)

My bad :). I overread "eliminated" in the process of answering too fast. And it was iPod or Apple, they "can't fine"; I should have taken some more time to "preview", oh well. I'm trying to forget this law with alcohol, please forgive me :)

Further implications(?) (1)

giorgosts (920092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807563)

If file sharing is a criminal offence, then the ISPs can be obliged via a court order to reveal the names of the offenders, while if it was only civil, it would have been virtually impossible to get sued because the ISPs wouldn't release the information..

Re:Further implications(?) (2, Insightful)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807608)

Not only they will reveal the names and everything, but the law allows the actual and non-oriented spying of the users. They will try to catch as many people as possible, as a deterrent to file sharing. I don't think our ISPs will make their life easy though, as many don't want to be part of this grand evil scheme. Our judges are against this law too, and will give the minimal fines to filesharers who don't profit by reselling. The whole thing doesn't seem really applicable anyway. It's such a mess, an evil mess, but such a mess that only a few poor students or kids will get caught and will pay the hard price for our Government's stupidity/fascism. And the legalization of P2P was voted by the Parliament at Christmas, but our Government used underhand tactics to cancel it. To sum up, it is unapplicable, and there are many different views, so I hope/guess/think it will be abolished next year.

Re:Mod article -1 Uninformed, Completely WRONG (4, Insightful)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807582)

*grabs another beer*. I'll take some time here to reply to myself and try to be clear about why the article is uninformed and give some more thoughts on the DADVSI law ("Droits d'Auteurs et Droits Voisins dans la Société de l'Information", roughly "Copyrights in Information Society"; we call it the DAVDSI code ;)).

The EUCD, European Copyright Directive, is the European implementation of the '96 WIPO treaty (asked by the US because they couldn't pass the DMCA without alienating the EFF & co). So they went to the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) and got what they (= RIAA/MPAA/BSA/<insert your favourite bitch here>) wanted. Then they passed the DMCA in the US and were happy (and obviously, the average /.'er wasn't).

The problem is, European Union countries signed the treaty too (as they are WIPO members, and that the copyright works in a way that if you want that other countries enforce YOUR copyrights, you'd better enforce them. One could see the process as some kind of blackmail..). So the European Union creates the EUCD, but keeps it vague so the transcriptions in the member states law's mileage may vary (often referred as "TTITMSLMMV"). For example, the Belgians have a fairly good EUCD-based law. I guess the Swedish will certainly soon have a correct EUCD-based law as the Pirate Party seems to have a large success and public attention.

We have an horrible EUCD-based law. The so-called "Culture" minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, has been outrightly lying during the whole process of amending the law (the Parliament stage). He declared numerous time how the law was F/OSS friendly, and that interoperability was a key point of the law (that's what the article says, too). Both were already very weak in the law (which is insecure, as it's badly written and has many inconsistencies). They are now completely gone. Some amendments were proposed by our local RIAA/MPAA (SNEP, SACEM, etc) while others by private companies (Vivendi); one of them was called the Vivendi amendment (DRMs made all-powerful) even in the Parliament by MPs! It was adopted. There are no exceptions: not for accessibility (blind people can't get the text of a DRM'd e-Boook), not for research (it's illegal even in universities to study DRM security and circumvention), not for backup, etc.

Is it the Constitutionnal Council's fault? Nope, certainly not. It is definitely the rapporteur's (who is a bastard MP from Hell) and the Government's fault. They abused democracy the whole time. The debates were streamed online so lot of people (including me) got to watch how they didn't listen to the opposition, didn't care, and plainly lied. The Council's role is only to rule if the law is conform to the constitution or not (and if the procedure was following the rules, and the Government took great care of abusing the system while respecting the rules). Yet, pretty much everyone considers the law as a failure, may them be artists (who don't want to see their fans go to jail), software programmers, researchers, librarians (who want to backup DVDs), and the general public. Pretty much everyone, except our local RIAA and MPAA. Great.

If you were thinking coming to France because of the GPON [slashdot.org] , you should reconsider. But whatever happens next (whether the law will be applied or not, it's still not decided), it won't last long... or so I hope.

Re:Mod article -1 Uninformed, Completely WRONG (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15809952)

Boohoo Froggy. So you finally got shafted by the EU gravy train. Never mind,mind steal some more farming subsidies and it will all be OK.

Microsoft? (1)

GenPetahhhh (838751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807531)

I am forced to wonder if this is somehow connected to Microsoft wanting to create a rival to the iPod. While France may not like Apple, they hate Microsoft even more. I would not be surprised if they wanted Apple to maintain an advantage over Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft? (1)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807627)

Not Microsoft nor Apple specifically (even if Apple did lobby our MPs). Much more our local RIAA/MPAA, and the BSA too. But trust me, the French Govermnment is already Hellish-enough so they can make an evil law all by themselves. They're pretty used to it :)

Re:Microsoft? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15810613)

Many French and European IT specialist despise Microsoft and are having more and more of the same feeling about Apple.
But the French Government unfortunatelly does not hate Microsoft, and most of the average citizen does not really care, nor knows anything about it.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Everything you wanted to know about DADVSI... (2, Informative)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807637)

... but were too afraid to ask. [wikipedia.org]

Double Standard (2, Insightful)

DesireCampbell (923687) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807718)

I was very excited when I first heard that Apple would be treated in a similar way Microsoft is being treated (not 'the same', to a lesser degree but similarly). Does apple have a "monopoly"? In online music downloads and music players, yes. Are they being "anti-competitive"? Yes, iTunes and iPods are joined at the hip. So, are they going to be force, like Microsoft, to open up and give instructions on how to interact with their software (Microsoft is being forced to do very similar things with their server software)? Ye- no? Well, are they at least being fined [slashdot.org] like Microsoft is? No? They might actually get paid for this?

So, Microsoft makes online-software that rivals can't interact with. They get fined MILLIONS of dollars, and are forced to help rivals.
Apple makes online-software that rivals can't interact with. They get.. nothing yet? They might have to help their rivals, but if they do they might get paid by the government?

What's the definition of 'double standard" again?

Re:Double Standard (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807952)

Does apple have a "monopoly"? In online music downloads and music players, yes
Having a monopoly is not against antitrust law. What is against the law is using monopoly power (which you can have without having a monopoly, BTW) in certain ways.

To the extent that Apple has a monopoly here, they got it by simply not being stupid. All the competing players and services were stupid, doing one or more of the following:

  • Offered crappy players.
  • Did not offer good software for their players, instead bundling MusicMatch Jukebox, or relying on Windows Media Player.
  • Did not work with any legal download service that worked with major labels.

There's nothing stopping someone else from launching a player and software and a download service that overcomes all of these problems. Even Apple's head-start isn't that much of a barrier, because if you look at the number of iTunes songs sold, divided by the number of iPods sold, you'll see that the average number of songs purchased from iTMS per iPod is not very large. Most people fill their iPods with ripped songs, which are not under DRM and so could be trivially moved to another player. (And since they only have a handful of iTMS songs, even those can be moved by burning one or two CDs and ripping them).

Re:Double Standard (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808439)

Apple is leveraging its itune monopoly (or atleast extreme marketshare) to sell ipods, by using DRM. This is a clear example of "Vertical tying", and is illegal in many countries. The only thing in question is if Apples itune marketshare is big enough, and a quick internet search suggest that it is pretty big.

To reiterate:

Big enough marketshare in one market (legal downloadable music - itune)
+
is used to leverage sales of product in secondary market (music players - ipod)
=
Illegal

Re:Double Standard (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 7 years ago | (#15812094)

Apple is leveraging its itune monopoly (or atleast extreme marketshare) to sell ipods, by using DRM.

So why was the iPod the best selling music player before the iTMS even started?

Re:Double Standard (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#15809048)

Did not offer good software for their players, instead bundling MusicMatch Jukebox, or relying on Windows Media Player.
I hate iPods and Sony mp3 players for requiring you to use some crappy, badly written software to be able to just COPY SONGS to your device.

It seems it's too much to ask to be able to just copy a folder with music in your filemanager to your device.

Re:Double Standard (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#15809484)

Does apple have a "monopoly"?

The question really is what monopoly does Apple have and how they maintained it. They have a monopoly on iTunes music and iPod players. That's it. They do not have a monopoly on mp3 players or online music. They do have an overwhelming market share on MP3 players and online music.

The do not have a monopoly on either because monopolies are based on exclusivitiy. You can get either from a number of competitors. Want another MP3 player? There's Creative, Sony, iRiver, Samsung to name a few. Some of them are cheaper and some of them have more features. Want online music? There's Walmart, MSN Music, AllOfMP3, Sony to name a few. These are competively priced with iTMS. Also if you just want music, you can purchase CDs and rip MP3s. iPods will accept two open standards for audio media, MP3 and AAC.

So why is Apple treated differntly than MS? How they got their market share is by making an integrated superior product. The only other company that has tried so far is Sony and they failed miserably. Apple has not strong armed customers and vendors like MS. Apple didn't stop Walmart nor MS from launching their stores or the music studios from selling to others. You can't buy a computer from Dell without an OS thanks to MS.

Microsoft's prior behavior after gaining market share was to lock out all others so that they were the only ones. Threatening suppliers and customers with retaliation if they bought or sold to the competition. Leveraging Windows to beat out competitors like Netscape and Real. These are behaviors that the EU and the DOJ did not like.

Take cars as an analogy. Suppose Toyota were to become the #1 automaker in the world by a commanding lead. All of this is because everyone just has to have their stylish cars. Toyota then develops a new type of tire that work extremely well with their cars and only their cars. But their cars work fine with standard radial tires. Could Ford and Honda ask that Toyota be forced make their tires compatible with other car manufacturers?

That is what Apple did, capture the market by being popular. Microsoft would have threatened rubber producers not to sell to anyone else. Tire companies who did business with their competitors might see their orders decline. Dealerships that sold other cars or tires (even used ones) would have their inventory orders cut in half.

Stop calling it like that ! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807757)

Please don't call it the "iPod law", it only shows you are misinformed. If you want to give it a sexy name, call it "DMCA^2".
If you want more information about it, take a look at http://eucd.info/ [eucd.info]

A bad law made worse... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807866)

But the real culprit is the government, not the constitutontional council.
For instance the exception for interoperability was struck down not because such an exception would be inconstitutional, but because the meaning of interoperability was not properly defined in the law (in France laws are not open to interpretation, so if you introduce a new concept, you must define it.) And the reduced fines were struck down because they were defined as a special regimen limited to peer-to-peer, excluding e-mail for instance, making the law unfair. But I'm afraid the government got so bogged down on this law that it won't even bother to try to make it conform, and leave it as ultra-authoritarian as it became. In practice, this will probably mean that nobody will be pursued for peer-to-peer exchanges: the intent of reduced fines was to allow for a simpler procedure, to sue hundreds of users, but without this one would need a fludge fledge trial.
By the way I really wonder why this is in the Apple category, the connection was always tenuous. This should be YRO!

5 years and 500 000 euros - Ouch. (2, Insightful)

mad zambian (816201) | more than 7 years ago | (#15808149)

There is an interesting take on this regarding P2P and OSS here:
http://soufron.typhon.net/spip.php?article150 [typhon.net]
Summary:
OSS bad
Fair use bad
Copying very bad
P2P very very bad
Penalties for same, insane.
Is it just me, or is the world going completely nuts? 5 years and 500 000 euros? Nuts.

NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15809716)

Actually you can non Apple itunes compatible devices.

Struck down?! (1)

+C+Evil_Techno (988616) | more than 7 years ago | (#15815234)

"Parts of the French 'iPod law' have been struck down..." ...By a headbutt from Zidane.

Rotten people, Monsieurs, you are ... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#15820914)

I remember you Monsieurs in the same way fucked up one of the best things that had ever happened to mankind - The French Revolution.

In case you forgot, you have gone radically nationalistic and allowed a megalomaniac declare himself 'le empereur'.
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