Wednesday, March 22, 2006


As might have been expected, Apple isn't entirely thrilled with the French government and the law currently working its way through the political process. If it becomes law, effectively, DRM will have to go open source to allow tracks to be swapped between formats, stores and players.

Apple clutched its chest and wailed and wailed and wailed:

"If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

On the other hand, they might rise as people might find themselves more keen to pay cash for files they can easily shift between PCs and players without having to worry about arcane and arbitrary licensing rules.

But then Apple had a quiet think to itself - maybe, it thought, this could be an opportunity, trying to make themselves sound threatening:

"iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with "interoperable" music which cannot be adequately protected.

Won't somebody think of those poor tracks, all alone and cold and unprotected?

Of course, this is rubbish and Apple knows it. The reason why legal downloads are thriving right now has nothing to do with DRM and eveything to do with the tracks being pitched at a pricepoint which makes pissing about with unlicensed music a waste of time. The proposed French model is akin to suggesting that a giant pile of free CDs be made available in Belguim - most people would still buy from their local store than traipse over to the free ones, because it's easier.

Still, it can hardly say that.

In addition, Apple couldn't really give a stuff about DRM - its business is based on selling music players, not music, and as it admits, this law could help rather than hinder sales of iPods, and strengthen the company's hand in negotiations with major labels for access to their music libraries.

Still, it can hardly say that either.

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