French lawmakers approve new online copyright bill

Lawmakers in the National Assembly, France's lower house, voted 296-193 to approve an online copyright bill that would require Apple to break open the exclusive format behind its market-leading iTunes music store and iPod players, an Associated Press report said.


The report said the draft law, which also set new penalties for music pirates, would force Apple, Sony, and others to share proprietary copy-protection technologies so that rivals could offer compatible services and players.


The legislation now had to be debated and voted by the Senate, a process expected to begin in May, the report said.


The report further said Apple had refused to comment on the bill or on analysts' suggestions that the firm might choose to withdraw from the French online music market rather than share the proprietary technology at the heart of its business model.


Under the bill, companies would be required to reveal the secrets of hitherto-exclusive copy-protection technologies such as Apple's FairPlay format and the ATRAC3 code used by Sony's Connect store and Walkman players, the report said.