French legislators gave final approval on Friday to a copyright law that could force Apple Computer Inc to make songs purchased from its market-leading iTunes Music Store compatible with music players of its rivals.
The Senate and the National Assembly both voted to approve the law, which will also reduce the penalties for the illegal downloading of music to little more than a parking fine.
The law could go into effect within a month.
Legal experts and industry lobbyists said that the resulting law was a messy compromise that would make it difficult to achieve the goal of the legislation -- to force Apple, or other companies with proprietary music formats, to make their offerings compatible with rivals' digital music devices.
"The bill passed today has softened the core of the first proposals," said Hugo Lueders, director for public policy in Europe at CompTIA, an information technology trade association. The group commended the French parliament for "passing a more market-oriented copyright protection bill."
While the law states that copy protection software cannot hinder access to a legally purchased digital work, there are a number of conditions that must be met before a company like Apple can change its format.
One way that Apple can protect itself from forced interoperability, for example, is by having musicians agree that music sold on iTunes can not be converted to other formats.
Additionally, rivals seeking to make their devices compatible with songs from iTunes must convince a newly created regulatory authority that interoperability will not infringe on patents or other rights belonging to Apple.
"Since American companies tend to patent everything, I am sure Apple can find a way to stop giving away information about their proprietary format," said Dominique Menard, a partner at the Lovells law firm who specializes in intellectual property. "The law is also so complex that we really need to see the application."
The vote brought to an end more than six months of heated debate that has led to a broader European discussion about governments mandating access to digital cultural content.
"This text affirms a new principle, interoperability, which makes France a pioneer country in Europe," Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the French minister of culture, told the National Assembly on Friday.
Consumer advocates in Norway, Denmark and Sweden have asked Apple to explain by Aug. 1 why songs purchased on iTunes could not be played on rival devices.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, meanwhile, released a report on Friday warning that difficulties in transferring digital files among devices hindered the development of content.
Lawmakers in Poland and Switzerland are likely to discuss the issue while updating national copyright laws this year.
Donnedieu de Vabres, who in December was given the task of aligning national copyright legislation to norms set by the EU, instead pushed for legislation that could have far-reaching consequences for the software and entertainment industries in the Internet era.
The process was fraught with unexpected twists, including a brief moment when it seemed that peer-to-peer file sharing of the sort considered illegal in most countries.
Just a few years ago, the millennial generation — generally defined as those born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s — was synonymous with youthful rebellion. However, now, as the millennials ease into early middle age, they are finding their path out of their parents’ basement to be a lot harder than it was for earlier generations. The fundamental problem is that millennials are not building wealth. The wealth of the median US household headed by someone 35 or younger has actually shrunk in inflation-adjusted terms since the mid-2000s, even as the wealth of older Americans has continued to grow. An
Apple Inc’s decision to stop using Intel Corp processors in its Mac computers and switching to its own chips might benefit Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and boost Taiwan’s high-tech exports, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) said in a note on Tuesday. The US tech giant announced the “Apple silicon” initiative at its annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference, which started on Monday. The company said the first Mac powered by its own chips would debut by the end of this year and all product lines might shift to the new architecture in the next two years. TSMC is likely to
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not