“Never give up… NEVER surrender!”

Los Angeles Times – 03.21.06:

Apple would sooner drop out of the French market altogether than meet the demands of a proposed bill that would allow iTunes to play on competitors’ MP3 players, according to Piper Jaffray.

Earlier today, the French National Assembly voted 296-to-193 to approve an online copyright bill that would require online music services and MP3 player makers to open DRM technology up to competitor’s devices and services and allow for usage of content from various online providers on the iPod and other devices. The bill now goes to the French Senate for a final vote before becoming law.

In the opinion of Piper analyst Gene Munster, Apple would rather remove itself from the French market than start “what could be a slippery slope of other countries passing similar legislation.”

A follow-up to an earlier post.

Update: Leander Kahney from Wired thinks France is “Saving Civilization” by taking this action.



  1. Improbus says:

    Here is a great idea guys. Let’s cut off our nose to spite our face!

  2. Floyd says:

    That’s the WalMart maneuver (though I don’t know if WalMart actually originated it). WalMart is extremely anti-union. When a group of WalMart meatcutters in one state unionized, WalMart closed all their onsite meatcutting facilities in all states, and now buys precut, prepackaged meat from elsewhere. I’ll let others argue about the ethics of doing this.

  3. Max says:

    I htink it’s a great move!

  4. Wanderley says:

    Actually, this is not about France at all. This is about sending a message here in the US. What Apple is trying to say (and that will immensely please the RIAA) is:

    “See what happens if we can’t have it our way?”

    The French market is a very small price to pay for the ability to send that message.

  5. gquaglia says:

    What will Apple do if other Eurpoean countries follow suit. Jobs and others should realize that you can’t hinge all your profits on some type of monolpolistic business model that locks your music store to your player.

  6. Mike says:

    They’re too buying rioting in the streets over guaranteed lifetime employment to buy music on iTMS anyway.

  7. todd anderson, iii says:

    we liberals, conservatives, and libertarians all believe that the free market is the most efficient arbiter of business decisions*

    if apple wants to take its ball and go home, that’s their prerogative, if it was a bad decision, the market will let them know pretty darned quickly.

    *(we just disagree on the how and where to place safety checks on the market to protect the citizenry)

  8. Milo says:

    Companies that adhere to this French standard could pose a big threat to Apple down the road.

  9. Mike says:

    I don’t know why Wal-Mart would be so anti-union.

    With unions you get cool nonsensical things like laborers being able to pull nails, but not drive them… because that, of course, is a carpenter’s job. And if you are doing somebody else’s job, you are stealing the food out of his mouth.

  10. Lou says:

    Good for Apple. As Todd said, let the market decide.

    I have a reality check for those involved in our recent discussion of DRM, ipods and the like.

    PEOPLE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE IPOD’s & ITUNES DRM!

    Everybody I know that has an iPod that isn’t an Ubergeek like me, does not care about the DRM, and in fact, it never comes up for the vast majority of itunes and ipod users. I’ve been asked lots of questions about DVD DRM (how can I copy my DVD’s, etc), but virtually never regarding the limitations of the iPod/iTunes system.

    The iPod/iTunes system allows very reasonable fair use, including burning CD’s and sharing between computers, using multiple devices, etc.

    Add to the fact that the players are competitively priced, generally of a higher quality, easy to use, and at least at this point, on the cutting edge (podcasts, video downloads, etc), doesn’t hurt either.

    There may be future technology (such as an MP3 player implanted in your ear) that Apple will not be able to keep up with, and will have to change their DRM policies, but until then, no harm, no foul.

    And as far as innovation, it seems that there are still lots of MP3 player manufacturers pumping out the gear, even though it isn’t iTunes compatable.

  11. Wayne says:

    I say Apple should pull out of France. Then the French will get a hands-on lesson about how a “free market” is driven by demand. When all those French consumers are no longer able to get their stinky little hands on iPods and no longer have the opportunity to download music from the iTunes Music Store (iTMS), they’ll want them that much more. The French people will either force a change in the government’s regulartory bullying or resort to buying iPods illegally and go back to file-sharing services.

  12. Steve says:

    To everyone (Todd, Lou, and Wayne) who thinks the market should decide, I agree. But let’s first allow the free market to work in the US. Let’s dump the DMCA which gives Apple it’s locked in business model in the first place.

    It’s the DMCA that makes it a crime to put music from Napster’s service onto an iPod or music from iTunes onto an iRiver player. Without the DMCA we’d be free to remove DRM from iTunes songs and use them wherever we wanted! Without the DMCA iPod owners wouldn’t be locked into iTunes, they would be free to use any service they wanted!

    Viva the free market! Dump the DMCA!

  13. Eideard says:

    $103 price target? Wow. It’s just over $62 this morning.

  14. Milo says:

    “go back to file-sharing services.”

    Because everyone left them Wayne?

  15. Mike says:

    Steve, even without the DMCA, you would still be bound by the license agreement that pops up (and must accept) every time you install or upgrade iTunes.

    I’ve started using allofmp3.com, so I don’t even worry about it. But I don’t share music with others anyway.

  16. Steve says:

    Mike, great point. But, the license agreement is not a criminal statute. And from some reason I have a personal distaste for criminals laws which exist solely for the protection of business models.

    And second, it would not apply to third parties. Here’s a good example, remember when Real created a hack to allow its songs to play on iPods. Real backed down when Apple threatened to sue under the DMCA. However, without the DMCA Apple couldn’t sue Real because Real never would have agreed to the license. In other words, while Apple could sue its users in civil court, it couldn’t sue Real.

    And lastly, license agreements don’t change the fact that the DMCA does impede the free market. Anyone who agrees with the free market should disagree with the DMCA.

    Heck, even the conservative Cato Institute is coming out against the DMCA.

  17. Steve says:

    Mike, so how is allofmp3.com working out? There is a loophole in the law that no one talks about which makes it perfectly legal to use in the US.

    17 USC 602(a)(2) says that “importation, for the private use of the importer and not for distribution, by any person with respect to no more than one copy or phonorecord of any one work at any one time” is NOT infringement.

    The only thing that scares me about allofmp3.com is that it’s almost certainly run by the Russian mob, and giving those guys my personal information just seems dangerous.

  18. Mike Voice says:

    Too bad they are only worried about music files, and portable players.

    If they are going to mandate portable DRM, I would like to see it apply to computers as well.

    I can just imagine Microsoft refusing to do business in France, if they were required to provide a WMV-10/11 player for Apple’s OS. 🙂

    On the whole, I think the idea is wrong. I don’t buy software for my Mac, and expect it to run on a PC – if I ever switch and/or own both. PC users don’t expect their investment in software to be usable on a Mac – if they ever switch and/or own both. This argument used to be weakened by the different processor architectures – but that distinction is going away.

  19. Me says:

    I just can’t believe I’m cheering on France for something….

  20. bill says:

    OK, let Apple produce a version of the iPod and iTunes that will play anything from anywhere. And then watch them capture the rest of the market they don’t already own. And the French will have only themselves to blame. (and George Bush and the entire US). I think this is a case of “be careful what you wish for”. Or how about a version that will only play tunes from the French iTunes store and nothing else. with a big red F on the front of it.

  21. Mike says:

    Steve,
    I haven’t had any problems with it. You prepay your account balance, and they use a third party for doing the transaction, so they aren’t storing anything about me other than my name, password and email address. Oh, and they do ask what country you are in.

    The best part is you can choose your format and quality, and the downloaded files are automatically encoded for you from the master.

  22. Mike Voice says:

    Interesting comment from a Reuter’s article:
    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1940616,00.asp

    “Consumers are prepared to pay twice as much for a song that can freely move between different devices, a recent study of the European Union project Indicare showed.”

    Is that what will happen – increase the cost for cross-platform music, because it has a higher “perceived” value?? 🙁

    I agree with Bill:

    OK, let Apple produce a version of the iPod and iTunes that will play anything from anywhere. And then watch them capture the rest of the market they don’t already own.

  23. Mr. Fusion says:

    Paul

    While many will agree that legislators are idiots, I disagree. The guy I voted for sure wasn’t an idiot. Maybe his opposition and the people that voted for him are idiots. But my guy isn’t.

    And as I’ve said repeatedly, if you don’t like your legislator, vote for someone else. And if you don’t like any of them, get involved in the process and help someone you like run.

  24. Mr. Fusion says:

    17 USC 602(a)(2) says that “importation, for the private use of the importer and not for distribution, by any person with respect to no more than one copy or phonorecord of any one work at any one time” is NOT infringement.

    And if France removes the DRM then maybe there will be a pipeline straight from France to the US.

  25. SN says:

    Fusion, shhh…. we don’t want the RIAA to hear!

  26. Mr. Fusion says:

    SN

    What I want to say about the RIAA can’t be said on this blog. So I will just gently suggest they tickle their own belly buttons from the inside! With their own middle finger!


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