Vive la difference

BBC News reports today on Apple's reaction to the French legislature's vote in favor of a law that would require online music sellers to allow interoperability with any music device and let consumers transcode purchased songs by circumventing any protections. What a contrast it is to see a government enact what is essentially an "anti-DMCA." According to the article:

The French government said the law was drawn up to ensure no single company dominated the fast growing music download market.

Apple's enigmatic response asserted that "legal music sales will plummet" but that "iPod sales will likely increase." I don't necessarily agree with the latter assessment and certainly disagree with the former. How would more freedom of choice in online music stores encourage more piracy than is already occurring? And it's common knowledge that most songs on iPods today are not purchased from any online music store. As I argued last April, consumers value choice in music, not music stores.

Napster and Rhapsody may posture that unlocking the iPod market would be key to their success, but most of the action surrounding Real Networks' Harmony technology took place in the courts and the press, not on consumers' iPods. Besides, the WMA crowd really wants to to pursue subscriptions and I don't think the law could force Apple to support such a business model as such music isn't "purchased."

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