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Vote on iPod-threatening French draft law slated for Tuesday

post #1 of 74
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Apple Computer could on Tuesday be forced to open up its digital music business to competitors after a vote in the French parliament, notes The Financial Times.

The iPod maker would ultimately have to choose between making iTunes downloads compatible with rival platforms or pulling out of France if, as expected, the parliament in Paris approves a draft copyright law, according to the report.

The law would also allow rivals to serve up tunes to iPod users through their own online music download services.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) software embedded in tracks downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store prevents them from being played on digital music players other than an iPod, but the French bill seeks to impose "interoperability" on online music stores and break Apples closed system.

"It is unacceptable that... the key should be controlled by a monopoly. France is against monopolies," Martin Rogard, an adviser at the French Culture Ministry, told The Financial Times. "The consumer must be able to listen to the music they have bought on no matter what platform."

Rogard said it was "desirable" that France led in this respect, but hoped that it was the start of a Europe-wide move to open up digital music.

However, opponents of the draft law say forcing Apple to admit competitors to a market it was instrumental in creating is sending the wrong signal to technology companies.

CompTIA, a trade association, reportedly said the law was the latest in a series of measures in the European Union that were "punishing inventors and stifling innovation."

Apple is reportedly waiting for the law to be passed before making any comment.
post #2 of 74
I can't help think that if Apple were a French company then the authorities would be in favour of a closed system monopoly.

This has all been proposed in the name of the consumer but in fact it's a steaming pile of xenophobic horse dung. I just hope the rest of the EU don't follow suit.
post #3 of 74
This is ridiculous! People aren't forced to sue iTunes! If they want interoperability, they can use something else.
post #4 of 74
While I am against the specific wording of this law, if in fact it would force Apple to provide interoperability, I AM in favour of not outlawing breaking DRM.

People should be able to legally break DRM to support their fair use rights.
post #5 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by dansgil
This is ridiculous! People aren't forced to sue iTunes! If they want interoperability, they can use something else.

..which is invariably less useful hence the success of iPod/iTMS.

The whole point of Apple's end-to-end approach is that it benefits the consumer by providing a cohesive, design-driven system that actually works. By taking a can-opener to it you get a compromised system that hypothetically works but actually falls short & the consumer (instead of the designer - if there even was one) is left feeling inept.

Close iTMS France, just in case!

McD
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post #6 of 74
There seems to be a shift in the concept of what a product is. Instead of the content, you buy the carrier.
I understand that markets are changing, but so far I think there hasn't been enough public debate about a contemporary definition of fair use, copyrights, and consumers' rights when buying digital content, like iTMS songs.
France bringing this issue to court seems to be a good way to do that.

I don't know about the US, but in Europe we have a tradition of anti-kartel laws. Although it may sound anti-business, the intention of law-suits like this is pro-business.
"We" think is is not acceptable for a company to be the only player in a market. If necessary, such companies will be forced to allow competition, because a market without competition is not considered a healthy market.
For the same reason it is also illegal for competing companies to make deals about minimum prices for their similar products, because that would allow them to keep prices unreasonably high. Again not considered healthy.
Also, competitors of privatised companies (formerly owned by the government) are usually given certain benefits, in order to create fair competition.
So, to answer your question Gates of Hell, this type of action is also taken against autochtone companies.

Bringing this case to court is not a personal act, it is about asking a judge, as a representative of "the law" to make a decision and maybe set a precedent.
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post #7 of 74
oops...
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post #8 of 74
This is dumb, if OS X took off and became a big success, this would be like asking them to make OS X able to work on other boxes. THEN, Apple would be obligated to provide support for the Joe Schmo that installed OS X on his lousy Dell, and they'd lose many other benefits of having a closed box.

Ok, so a DRM is maybe not quite as drastic, but the principle is the same I think.
post #9 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
oops...

Well stated! Apple does not have a monopoly on music, and music is the commodity here. There are all sorts of companies that sell music in other ways - brick & mortar stores, websites, Napster, etc. Apple just has a great delivery system - iTMS and iPods.

BTW - the judge here should be the consumer, not the government or courts. There are plenty of iPod wannabes that can play downloaded or ripped music.
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post #10 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by dansgil
This is ridiculous! People aren't forced to sue iTunes! If they want interoperability, they can use something else.

If they want interoperability they should buy a CD so they can rip it in any format to any device they want!
post #11 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by jwdawso
Well stated! Apple does not have a monopoly on music, and music is the commodity here. There are all sorts of companies that sell music in other ways - brick & mortar stores, websites, Napster, etc. Apple just has a great delivery system - iTMS and iPods.

BTW - the judge here should be the consumer, not the government or courts. There are plenty of iPod wannabes that can play downloaded or ripped music.

I was just elaborating on the reasoning behind this case.
My opinion is that there should be (a) more public debate about consumer's rights in regard to digital products.
Right now I think not a lot of consumer are aware of the possible consequences that things like DRM have on their position as a consumer.
I'll be checking out the outcome of this case.

Yeah, music is sold in stores, on vinyl etc, and maybe in the end it boils down to whether you believe in government interference in the economy...
But still, don't you think it's weird that you buy music and then are limited in your (personal) use of it? Do you think this is a good route for businesses to take? Is it good for development of music and businesses?
Or is DRM protected music like buying a nice, sweet apple, and then not being allowed to digest all the vitamins and healthy goodness inside of it?
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post #12 of 74
If France is against monopolies, why haven't they forced all software companies to sell software that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux? Why haven't they forced all game software companies to make games that work on PS2, Xbox, and Nintendo? Isn't music just another form of software for devices?

Then they'd realize that MS doesn't make a WMP that works on those other OSes, and that digital music bought from those WMA stores won't even work on Macs and Linux computers. Where's the interoperability in that? At least Fairplay DRM songs work on both Macs and PCs.

I hope Apple sues France, and stops selling iPods and iTMS songs in France until it's resolved.
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post #13 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
...

Yeah, music is sold in stores, on vinyl etc, and maybe in the end it boils down to whether you believe in government interference in the economy...
But still, don't you think it's weird that you buy music and then are limited in your (personal) use of it? Do you think this is a good route for businesses to take? Is it good for development of music and businesses?
...

I'm limited in the use of everything I buy. When I buy any type of media, I'm limited to using it on the types of devices that play it. I can't play my CDs on my cassette player, or my DVDs on my CD player, or my Mac software on my PC, or my PS2 games on my Xbox, or my DS games on my PSP, or my VHS tapes in my DVD player, or my protected WMA downloads on my Mac, or my CinemaNow/MovieLink downloads on my Mac, etc. In every case, I have to buy the right type of playback mechanisms in order to use the content I've purchased.

If France goes through with this, they better go all the way. Audiobooks, software, video games, videos/movies, etc. In short, anything that can be downloaded.
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post #14 of 74
Who in the eff are the French to think that they can tell another company how to run its business model? NOBODY is forcing people to buy iPods and there are other competing systems available. I hope Apple somehow gives them a big F-YOU.

Eff the french.

When the day comes that politicans start running businesses instead of business people, then we've entered the soviet model and we all know how that ended up.
post #15 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by sc_markt
Who in the eff are the French to think that they can tell another company how to run its business model? NOBODY is forcing people to buy iPods and there are other competing systems available. I hope Apple somehow gives them a big F-YOU.

Eff the french.

When the day comes that politicans start running businesses instead of business people, then we've entered the soviet model and we all know how that ended up.

ok, you're kind of overreacting.
post #16 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by mark2005
If France is against monopolies, why haven't they forced all software companies to sell software that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux? Why haven't they forced all game software companies to make games that work on PS2, Xbox, and Nintendo? Isn't music just another form of software for devices?

Actually games and software ARE available on multiple platforms.
Besides, in a lot of cases it could be argued that machine + OS/Games are built for eachother, which in the case of iPod + iTMS is not true.

I think the main argument for this case would be that Apple is actively limiting the use of music, and the reason WHY they limit it.
Their music is basically playable on every player, but limited by Apple.
That's different than an MP3 player not playing WAVs, or software not being runnable on any platform, which are technical issues and choices. Not being able to play CDs in a casette player, is physical.

It could be argued that Apple isn't the sole inventor of MP3s etc, they built on the efforts of a society that they're a part of, that made computers, software, and as such they are "endebted" that society.
If they are limiting what they first "took" than that could be considered unfair.
And what if they do this, in order to exclude others that basically have the same moral rights to this evolved product?

That's like having a car, refusing to pay car-taxes, and driving everybody else off the road because you want it all for yourself.
And then looking surprised because you got fined.

But again, I think you need to consider this law suit as a question, more than a statement. French government is asking French law to think about something to do with DRM.
These type of questions have to be precise and limited in order to lead to workable solutions, so they pick a clear example like Apple.

If people will be allowed to break DRM, then indeed other digital products like audiobooks and software might be looked at again in France and maybe Europe.
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post #17 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by sc_markt
When the day comes that politicans start running businesses instead of business people, then we've entered the soviet model and we all know how that ended up.

Didn't Microsoft get fined by the US not too long ago?
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post #18 of 74
[double reply]
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post #19 of 74
I think this legislation has a point, though I wish that market forces had turned it rather than the government, but maybe the market is broken here, necessitating intervention. DRM'ed media is simply the wrong way to go, be it WMA or M4P or whatever, it is a pretty clear regression from the CD-Audio format, where anyone can make a CD, and anyone is allowed to make a player that plays them. The new system doesn't allow resale either, another regression.

The lock-in is highly artificial, not based on cpu or APIs like game consoles but by encryption. I really don't like the idea that an already degraded source has to be degraded again to use it on another media player.
post #20 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by JeffDM
I think this legislation has a point, though I wish that market forces had turned it rather than the government, but maybe the market is broken here, necessitating intervention.

The lock-in is highly artificial, not based on cpu or APIs like game consoles but by encryption. I really don't like the idea that an already degraded source has to be degraded again to use it on another media player.

I wish I had your editor: my answers are WAY too lengthy
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post #21 of 74
chers américains,

as the French were right for Irak, i think they're right for the iPod (uhuh, sorry i couldn't resist)

i want to be able to play on my PSP the music i buy on iTunes (long story short).

when you buy a DVD, you can play it on your powerbook, in your sony dvd player, in your panasonic portable dvd-player. same with a CD.

why would my music be stuck on my powerbook and my iPod?

i love iTunes, i love Apple, but i just think that Apple DRM is not fair and kills competition.

olivier
post #22 of 74
The French government has a monopoly on stupidity.

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post #23 of 74
I try not to get involved in these type of debates these days.

I understand the that the French are/could be using Apple as an example. But the fact remains that the iPod, iTunes and the iTMS are and end to end solution. I don't even consider them separate products. When I had Sony Minidisc player it came with Sonicstage. I don't see anyone making Sony open that up.

It was already stated that none of the other DRM players, offer a solution for non Windows platforms. I don't see a MusicMatch for the Mac. I don't see any Plays for Sure Apple compatibility. Matter of fact, didn't MS just pull the plug on Windows Media Player for the Mac. Shit WMP never played WMA/WMV DRM. Hell it hardly played the regular stuff.

I gotta say that when you 'buy' music you are not actually purchasing the music, only the right to listen. The same applies to the Movie industry. If you actually owned the content you would be getting a royalty check every month.

I'm not sure what people think is so unfair about Apples solution. You can play your music on up to five computers. Try that with a CD. Transfer songs to an unlimited number of iPods, burn purchased music unlimited amount of times, any playlist up to seven times. All it takes is burning it once to remove the DRM if you are so inclined.

I wouldn't mind if Apple were to allow other players to work with iTunes, but I believe they should be allowed to keep the iTMS to themselves. If you want the most convenient seamless and fully supported solution then you choose an iPod.

I think people should take a more modern look at industry. We as consumers demand more and more from companies every day. The minute Apple comes along and stops passing the buck and delivers a truly complete product and succeeds in the market with it ignorant consumers get they're panties in a bunch and start bitching about what they can't do. It doesn't matter what product you choose you lose something. You cannot have your pie and eat it too.

I may be wrong about the rules about Apples DRM rights so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Okay I think I'm finished now.
post #24 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
Actually games and software ARE available on multiple platforms.
Besides, in a lot of cases it could be argued that machine + OS/Games are built for eachother, which in the case of iPod + iTMS is not true.

I think the main argument for this case would be that Apple is actively limiting the use of music, and the reason WHY they limit it.
Their music is basically playable on every player, but limited by Apple.
That's different than an MP3 player not playing WAVs, or software not being runnable on any platform, which are technical issues and choices. Not being able to play CDs in a casette player, is physical.

...

Why should Apple have to pay MS for the license to put WMA on the iPod (and in iTunes)? Isn't that Apple's technical and cost choice in making an iPod? How is that different than Apple deciding to decode WAV or OGG Vorbis formats on the player?

We think of digital bits as something not physical. But decoding digital bits is in the physical realm; I need a processor and instructions to operate that processor. I grant that the PortalPlayer chips in the iPod have the power to decode WMA, but what if (hypothetically) Apple had to write/port the code to decode DRMed WMA on the processor it had chosen, and this increased the amount of RAM or power needed? By the way, given the DRM placed on CDs, it is or soon will be no longer true that all CD players can play all CDs. The region encoding makes this already true for DVDs.

And separately, why is it not true that iTMS was built for the iPod? iTMS works hand-in-hand with iTunes; you don't access iTMS via a general purpose browser but through iTunes (unlike most WMA stores). And iTunes was built for the iPod; for music content, you access (download music/playlists, upload data like times played, etc) the iPod via iTunes not via the file system (unlike most WMA players). That's the beauty of the system - it all works together because each piece knows what the other pieces are doing. How is this different from machine + OS/Games?
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post #25 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by olive_
chers américains,

as the French were right for Irak, i think they're right for the iPod (uhuh, sorry i couldn't resist)

i want to be able to play on my PSP the music i buy on iTunes (long story short).

when you buy a DVD, you can play it on your powerbook, in your sony dvd player, in your panasonic portable dvd-player. same with a CD.

why would my music be stuck on my powerbook and my iPod?

i love iTunes, i love Apple, but i just think that Apple DRM is not fair and kills competition.

olivier

Can you explain how does it kill competition?

Look, here are the choices:

1. Apple solution - iTMS/iTunes/iPod (any kind) and Mac or PC.

2. Other solution - any WMA store/any browser/WMA-playing software/any WMA device and PC.

3. CDs/iPod or any WMA device or MP3/OGG/etc device, any software to rip/play CD, and Mac or PC.

Since I have a Mac, if you want to compete, just build me a great other solution (solution 2) that works on a Mac, and convince me that it is better than solution 1.
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post #26 of 74
France can eat it. Apple should close iTunes to such a business-unfriendly country. You can take that, stick it in your corncob pipe and smoke it!

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post #27 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by mark2005
Since I have a Mac, if you want to compete, just build me a great other solution (solution 2) that works on a Mac, and convince me that it is better than solution 1.

So what if I can't even try to do that because I need copper, and my competition owns all the coppermines and doesn't want to sell any copper to me?
That's what they are trying to prevent from happening.
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post #28 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by jwdawso
[B]Well stated! Apple does not have a monopoly on music, and music is the commodity here. There are all sorts of companies that sell music in other ways - brick & mortar stores, websites, Napster, etc.

Excellent point. You can accuse anyone of being a monopoly if you just define the market narrowly enough. For example, a man selling flowers on the street could be a "monopolist on roses between 45th street and 47th street," and thus be eligible for punishment.
post #29 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
So what if I can't even try to do that because I need copper, and my competition owns all the coppermines and doesn't want to sell any copper to me?
That's what they are trying to prevent from happening.

Nope, wrong analogy. If by copper, you mean songs, it's not true, because Apple doesn't own the songs. The many music labels do. And the labels have made most songs available on other (WMA) stores.

If by copper, you mean Fairplay DRM, it's not true because you don't need Fairplay to compete. You can build your own end-to-end system.

Microsoft-based players don't compete well because they either suck or are me-too copies offering nothing that the user really wants. PlaysforSure sucks, WMA isn't so great, there is no WMA player with all the features of iTunes including usability and easy-reliable sync, WMA stores have nothing to distinguish them, and WMA players for the most part suck. Many people who choose WMA players claim that the ability to move music to the player from the PC desktop was key. Well, lots of people would rather make playlists that update the player automatically instead.

Hey, I'd rather their not be any DRM at all. But the way France is handling this is all wrong - wrong assumptions, wrong reasoning, wrong solution.
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post #30 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
So what if I can't even try to do that because I need copper, and my competition owns all the coppermines and doesn't want to sell any copper to me?
That's what they are trying to prevent from happening.


Actually, Apple doesn't own the copper mines, just one way of transporting the ore (to use you lousy analogy). Your point is only valid if Apple is the only way to buy music.
post #31 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by SMQT
"We" think is is not acceptable for a company to be the only player in a market. If necessary, such companies will be forced to allow competition, because a market without competition is not considered a healthy market.

Ok, but as soon as the government starts pushing people around, telling them they must do this, they must do that, they are no longer free people.

Now you say the government's goal is to create competiitve markets, but which is more important, competitive markets or free people?
post #32 of 74
ok, as someone who produces music and is a passionate and devoted music collector, I could give a f*ck less about whether traditional business models are maintained or not. business models have been changing since adam first traded his half eaten apple (no pun intended) for some leaf underwear.

the big problem I have with DRM is this scenario:

say at some point in the future, music is only collected and stored in digital form (not much of a stretch). now, say i want to find a copy of a song by some obscure band whose record label long since went out of business, and the master copies of the song are either wiped out or archived in some major label's warehouse never to be seen again. at that point the only copies i can find are DRM protected so that they only work on devices which are ancient history. so essentially the song is "lost" to anyone who may be interested in it.

DRM protected music essentially has a time-limit placed it. that time-limit being the lifecycle of the device on which it can be played (not to mention the technology it's based on and the companies which support it). obviously a similar case can be made for other media also, but at least they are "unlocked" so that, if you could find (or build) another device capable of playing that media, you could retrieve the music. not so with DRM (without "breaking the law" anyways).

just because the majority of people consume music and then throw it out doesn't mean that everyone should be forced to act this way. i am involved with a community of people who are digitizing old (and often rare) vinyl records created by bands and released on record labels which no longer exist in an effort to preserve the recordings since the media will eventually wear out. it would be nice to give future generations the ability to do the same.

now, i understand this is most likely not the motivation behind the legislation in France (more likely it's lobbying by people who want to get a piece of the pie), but i still feel that DRM isn't the right answer either. you all talk about freedom, but what about freedom for the people who are passionate about music?
 
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post #33 of 74
FRENCH PUSSES!


CRY BABIES AS ALWAYS!!!!!
never say never!
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post #34 of 74
As a French citizen I must admit that every internet savvy french person is against this law : badly thought, badly written, inadequate and inspired in its major part by majors (Univeral, Warner, Sony BMG and the like). The average age for a member of the the parliament 1st chamber is 50 and they rarely are internet savvy enough to understand DRM, P2P etc. and since the 2d chamber is composed of 70 to 80 old Senators, I am 100 % sure less than 5% of the members examining the law have any clue about it.
As a side note this law was proposed by the current government (within its right) and not by members of the parliament (which is the usage) and since the self- appointed experts working in the various ministries specialized commissions working on the law project are often picked among people in this field (music, entertainment industries), you can bet that this law is a major result of entertainement industry lobbying directed toward ignorant parliament members.

I guess if only parliament members had spoken a little with their 10 years old children or grand children, they would have understood better what they were voting about Stupids, really
post #35 of 74
It's amazing how some people can be against this law, since it's so obviously in their own personal interest.

Are you blinded by chauvinism? Patriottism? Or does the mere fact that politics are driven by opportunism and powerplay keep you from seeing that this time, it's in your own advantage as a consumer?

The question is rather why not *all* governments force all companies *all* content from *all* hardware.

iPods, PSPs X-Boxes - they're all really huge copyright dongles. Geez doesn't anyone see how you pay premium prices for PSP games because the hardware is a loss leader? We're only *lucky* that Apple lets us pay fair prices for their music, but for how long would they think they need to do that?

I know that some people think that you have to protect innovation by allowing companies to make economical use of it.

But Apple doesn't need DRM laws. As the possibility to burn cds without DRM shows. DRM is Apple trick to satisfy content companies.

By keeping their music prices low and their iPod prices realistically high, they have made sure that they remain competitive while the market conditions are going to change.

Because who is going to get hurt when the law gets into effect? Not Apple. The unfairly priced business models, like PSP, XBox, music-by-subscribtion are, while Apple is going to change nothing and survive.

The misconception everyone on the net seems to make, is that because the iTunes store and the iTunes-iPod combination work together so well, each of them can't stand on it's own.

Well, they can. Easily. Laughingly. iTunes is profitable, iPod is profitable. And their each the best the planet has to offer in it's category. That's the difference with content/hardware combinations Sony and Microsoft have to offer.

You read it here: Apple is going to function as the example for Sony and Microsoft, in being an innovative company with a pricing system that is resistant to anti-kartel laws that benefit us, consumers, and will be applied everywhere.
post #36 of 74
If the law passes it would be bye bye iTMS France. It only exist as a way for Apple to sell iPods. Simple as that.

What could be done was to ensure the right of the consumer to "unDRM" the files legally if it falls under some sort of "fair use". For those with the burning needs to use the music elsewhere than on iTunes or the iPod it could be done and all the negative consequences of Apples policy could be avoided.
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post #37 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by Doxxic
It's amazing how some people can be against this law, since it's so obviously in their own personal interest.

Are you blinded by chauvinism? Patriottism? Or does the mere fact that politics are driven by opportunism and powerplay keep you from seeing that this time, it's in your own advantage as a consumer?

But... when deciding what's in your best interest, you have to look at the next 80 years, not the next 5 minutes. So allowing a society to develop where the goverment pushes people around, for the sake of a few non-DRM songs, might not be a good idea.
post #38 of 74
Quote:
Originally posted by ascii
But... when deciding what's in your best interest, you have to look at the next 80 years, not the next 5 minutes. So allowing a society to develop where the goverment pushes people around, for the sake of a few non-DRM songs, might not be a good idea.

Hey look what I did - I replaced "a few non-DRM songs" with "a few drums of Oil" in your statement and you started making sense.
post #39 of 74
Well, unfortunately this article is really lacking in details. If the idea is to force companies into technology licensing agreements, I'm not sure how that can really work. How do you decide which DRM systems must be supported and on which devices/platforms? On the flip side, I'm all for anything that pushed back on industry to protect the "fair use" rights we consumers used to have with media content which have horribly eroded in the US over the past few years.

In the meantime, we can always hope that somewhere in the distant future, people will learn that stealing is wrong, and this crap all becomes unnecessary. Truly sad, the effort and money that goes into this garbage.

Quote:
Originally posted by AppleInsider
CompTIA, a trade association, reportedly said the law was the latest in a series of measures in the European Union that were "punishing inventors and stifling innovation."

Hilarious, way to suck in the Bill Gates so called "innovation" argument. Yeah right, limiting access to information via DRM is soooo inventive and innovative.
post #40 of 74
Hey Steve?

You still like France?
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