French Senate weighs music downloads bill

5th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 4, 2006 (AFP) - The French Senate on Thursday began debating a fiercely contested Internet music copyright law that has sparked threats by Apple, which runs the iTunes download site, to withdraw from France.

PARIS, May 4, 2006 (AFP) - The French Senate on Thursday began debating a fiercely contested Internet music copyright law that has sparked threats by Apple, which runs the iTunes download site, to withdraw from France.

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 can only be played on an Apple iPod device.

Culture and Communications Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, presenting the bill to the upper house the French parliament, defended this controversial principle in the law, the so-called "interoperability".

An Internet user who pays 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.

Apple has slammed the bill as "state-sponsored piracy". Its protest has received the support of the US commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez.

The bill was passed by France's lower house of parliament in March following lively debate.

Groups representing Internet users, consumers and authors' rights groups reacted angrily to the watering-down by earlier amendments of parts of the law aimed at interoperability.

The Senators are due to consider 256 new proposed amendments to the bill. If they do not pass the bill in the same form as approved by the lower National Assembly, it must be returned there for a second reading.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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