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France legislature approves 'iTunes' copyright bill

[JURIST] The French Senate and National Assembly gave final approval Friday to the so-called "iTunes" copyright legislation [legislative materials, in French], meaning the bill will soon become law assuming the failure of a constitutional challenge filed last week by the Socialist party. The government still has the option of amending the bill before it is signed. Though the original bill, passed by the National Assembly [CBS report] in March, was weakened through compromise [AP report] during a joint committee markup last week, some industry analysts expect the bill to cause Apple to abandon the French market for downloadable music.

Apple's iTunes player currently does not play songs downloaded from other Internet music stores, and songs purchased from the iTunes catalog are not compatible with other players. In its current form, the bill will require Apple and other companies to solve the "inoperability" problem by sharing technology. However, the bill would also allow Apple and others to strike exclusive deals with artists for French distribution, thus avoiding the technology-sharing requirement. The bill is France's attempt to implement the EU Copyright Directive [materials; JURIST report]. In statements [Appleinsider report] released since the March vote, Apple predicted that the bill will cause its music sales to drop. AP has more.

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