With a show of hands, French lawmakers approved a new copyright law on Friday, in a move that could have profound consequences for online music stores, open-source programmers, desktop Linux users and P-to-P (peer-to-peer) file sharers.
Companies that use DRM (digital rights management) technologies to protect music downloads will be required to provide information about their technology to competitors wishing to create interoperable systems. This would mean that Apple Computer, for example, may have to relinquish its tight control of the FairPlay DRM technology it uses to tie songs downloaded from iTunes Music Store to its iTunes jukebox software and iPod music player.
So far, Apple has licensed the technology only to Motorola Inc. for use on a small number of cell phones. Vendors that use DRM do have one way around the law: they can sell songs for proprietary systems as long as the owner of the copyright holders agree.