France's copyright law 'no surprise': minister

14th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAN FRANCISCO, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - Apple Computer Inc. should have anticipated that the exclusive union of its iPod music players and online iTunes store would be challenged in France, Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - Apple Computer Inc. should have anticipated that the exclusive union of its iPod music players and online iTunes store would be challenged in France, Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.

"It should come as no surprise," Lagarde told reporters during a visit to San Francisco.

The trade minister made the remark when asked what she might say to Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs about a proposed copyright bill in France that would sever the link between the company's iPod players and iTunes online music store.

"Any time a company restricts competition in a market, it gets the attention of regulating agencies. We have to play by the rules of the game," she said.

Lagarde spoke a day after meeting Silicon Valley executives, top Stanford University officials, and French entrepreneurs living here.

She met with Charles Phillips of Oracle Corp., John Chambers of Cisco Systems, and Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems, but not with any Apple Computer Inc. representatives.

A copyright bill before the French parliament on downloading music and films could lead the online music store, Apple's iTunes, to withdraw from France because it would be reluctant to opening up its proprietary system, experts say.

Apple Computer Inc. has always refused to allow its paid-for music files downloaded via iTunes to be converted into another format, which would allow them to be listened to on a music player other than its iPod.

But French lawmakers last month adopted two amendments insisting on "interoperability," which would permit an Internet user to copy and read downloaded files on a service of his choice.

France and millions of its iPod using teen-agers were too valuable a market for Apple to ignore, Lagarde said.

The minister wrapped up a nine-day trade visit to the United States in which she sought opportunities for France to "reflect and adapt" the ways talent, drive and capital markets are combined to keep Silicon Valley thriving with technology firms.

As she had on the other legs of her trip, Lagarde touted France as fertile ground for investment and business, and lobbied French-American entrepreneurs to ply their talents in their native land.

Lagarde condemned critics that suggest France should fix anachronistic political or labor policies before courting high technology businesses to invest or open shop there.

"I don't want the crap," Lagarde said. "It annoys me when France is portrayed as an awkward, backward country. It is not."

While reform is needed in the labor market, French commerce is on firm footing and the economy strong, Lagarde said.

"Let's not throw out the baby with the water of the bath," Lagarde said of the recent focus on student rioting that led to French President Jacques Chirac abandoning a controversial youth jobs law. "That would be unfair to the country."

While foreign companies must adjust their employment practices when operating in France, Lagarde said the benefits of doing business in the country and the quality of the workforce outweighed any possible hurdles.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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