French law to 'open' iTunes takes effect

A closely watched French law that lets regulators force Apple Computer to make its iPod player and iTunes online store compatible with rival offerings took effect last week, according to an Associated Press report

The Internet copyright law passed France's parliament June 30 after fierce debate and a gradual weakening of its initial punch.

Apple had called an early draft of the law "state-sponsored piracy," and some analysts had said the law could force Apple to close iTunes France and pull its market-leading player from the country's shelves, the report said.

But the law was expected to have little immediate effect. A new government regulatory authority assigned to monitor the law was not expected to be in place until this fall.

Much would depend on the law's interpretation by the French courts, as well as the stance taken by recording companies, the report said.

Other governments might follow France's example. Recent proposals for regulatory moves to open up iTunes had emerged in Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Poland, the report further said.

The original French law would have required companies to share technical data with any rival that wanted to offer compatible music players and stores, the report said, but France's Constitutional Council left it up to government regulators to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to force companies to open their formats.