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Bold French Say "Non" to Proprietary iPod

The New York Times reports that in the digital music market, France is singing a different tune.

A bill under debate in the French Parliament may require iPods to be able to play music purchased from competing Internet services, not just Apple Computer's own iTunes Music Store, forcing changes in the business model that gave rise to the revolution in legal digital music downloads.

The bill, which also proposes to turn individual digital piracy into a violation no more serious than a parking ticket, would go next to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be altered significantly, political analysts say.

Some critics say the plan is technically unworkable, unfairly undermines Apple and opens the door to more piracy by crippling technology that protects copyrights. Supporters see France setting a long-overdue legal precedent that opens Apple's closed iPod-iTunes digital music system to competition.

The amendments proposed by the government, tacked onto what is being called the author's rights law, originate in part from a European view of the economy that makes it more acceptable there than in the United States for governments to order competition in the marketplace for the benefit of consumers.

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