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French Law Doesn't Open AAC Format Yet

French Law Doesn't Open AAC Format Yet

by , 10:25 AM EST, March 16th, 2006

Controversial legislation to force Apple and other online music resellers to open their copy protection to competitors is not currently being included in France's National Assembly proposal package that is set for approval on March 21. According to Red Herring, however, the option is still under discussion.

The proposed law was intended to force companies like Apple to allow music downloaded from the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) to be playable on any portable digital music device. Currently, music purchased from the iTMS includes a copy protection scheme that is compatible with the iPod, but not other music players. Users are quick to point out that Apple's AAC copy protection is easy to circumvent by burning a CD of the music.

The French National Assembly approved a law on Wednesday that creates a €40 (about US$48.27) fine for illegally downloading music and other files. It also passed a law that sets a three year jail term and a €300,000 (about $362,070) fine for distributing software that circumvents CD and DVD copy protection.

France's penalties for downloading copyright-protected music are light enough that they won't likely act as a deterrent, and the law calls for a special committee that interprets how the country's private copy law applies to digital content. The committee will decide how many copies users can make of their CDs, DVDs and other software, which may be in conflict with the constitution.

The law isn't receiving much enthusiasm. Music producers and recording labels don't know yet what the impact will be, but feel fairly certain that the results will be bad for the music industry.

Régis Carral, head of the intellectual property group in the Paris office of Landwell, PricewaterhouseCoopers legal service, commented "[It's] a bad law that will not satisfy anyone,” and will be “difficult to implement and apply."

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