French lawmakers give final approval to iTunes law

French lawmakers gave final approval to a government-backed legislation that could force Apple to make its iPod music player and iTunes online store compatible with rivals' offerings, an Associated Press report said.

The report said both the Senate and the National Assembly, France's lower house, voted in favor of the copyright bill, which some analysts believed might cause Apple to close iTunes France and pull its market-leading player from the country's shelves.

Currently, songs bought on iTunes could be played only on iPods, and an iPod could not play downloads from other stores with similar premium content from major artists, like Napster and Sony's Connect, the report said.

Apple, which had described an earlier draft of the copyright bill as "state-sponsored piracy," did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment on the vote.

But in a statement issued after lawmakers hashed out the final compromise text last week, the company said it hoped the market would be left to decide "which music players and online music stores are offered to consumers."

The vote was the last legislative step before the bill becomes law, barring the success of a last-ditch constitutional challenge filed by the opposition Socialists and Greens. The law would take effect only after that challenge is exhausted, a process set to take several weeks, the report said.

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