French Senate starts debate on music download bill

The French Senate began debating a fiercely contested Internet music copyright law that had sparked threats by Apple to withdraw from France, an AFP report said.
The report said the law would oblige companies offering audio tracks for download to make the tracks playable on other brands of music file players, breaking Apple's stranglehold on its downloads, which could only be played on an Apple iPod device.
Culture and Communications Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, presenting the bill to the upper house of the French parliament, defended this controversial principle in the law, the so-called "interoperability," the report said.
An Internet user who would pay to download music should be able to listen to it "without being the prisoner of a single system corresponding with the product range of one single company," he said, according to the report.
Apple had slammed the bill as "state-sponsored piracy," the report said.

Its protest received the support of the US commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, the report further said.
The bill was passed by France 's lower house of parliament in March following lively debate.