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France to Crack Open Apple, Microsoft DRM?

A law under consideration by the French parliament could make it legal for consumers to transfer protected digital content from one digital rights management scheme to other formats so purchased media can be played on any capable device.

Although the proposed legislation is an implementation of portions of the EUCD (European Union Copyright Directive, analogous to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States) and is intended to curb digital piracy and file sharing (and allow for police to monitor Internet traffic and get records from ISPs) one upshot might be that consumers who purchased protected music might be granted the legal right to transfer that media from one protected scheme to another format so it can be played on other devices. To do so, the media would either have to be sold in without technical encumbrances to format conversions or transfers, or users would technically have to break the original digital rights management scheme to perform the conversion.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Christian Vanneste, sponsor of the legislation, said such format conversion would no longer be illegal under the law. “You have to be able to download content and play it on any device.” Vanneste is a controversial right-wing French politician previously criticized for homophobic remarks and extolling perceived benefits of past French colonialism.

The proposed legislation has sparked concerns Apple, Microsoft, and other online music distributors may withdraw from the French market if they were forced to either license their digital rights management technologies to each other’s products in the market, or sell unprotected content. Major music labels would certainly never agree to selling unprotected content

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