Tuesday, March 21, 2006

French MPs vote to open up DRM

French parliament have backed a draft law which would force companies like Apple, Sony and Microsoft to reveal the secrets of their proprietary copy protection and digital rights management (DRM) systems.

Their idea is to open up the standards so that any music downloaded from any online music store can be played on any portable music player. Apple will certainly not be happy about this, as it seems to be their strategy to lock iTunes downloads so they only play on Apple iPod devices. Microsoft do have their proprietary DRM format, Windows Media Audio DRM, but they license this to hardware manufacturers (so WMA files play on Creative players, iRiver devices, different manufacturers). This is a bit like the situation with Windows and Mac OS, Microsoft allow any hardware manufacturers' products to run Windows, where Apple limit it to running on Apple hardware.

Nevertheless, I doubt that Microsoft will be happy to open up their source code, considering their stance on the European anti-trust case(s), so it will remain to be seen what the response by these major companies is if this law goes through.

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