[news=http://www.slyck.com/newspics/frenchp2p.gif]Fire and brimstone will soon fall apon the music industry. Piracy will achieve levels never before seen. People will find ways to install pirated music and movies on their iPods. P2P and file-sharing networks will soon overtake authorized downloads, leaving the authorized music business in financial ruin.
So predicts Apple Computers, whose iTunes music store was the main focus of a controversial new French copyright reform bill. The copyright reform bill, which passed the National Assembly (lower house) yesterday, is now on its way to the Senate. There, itís expected the Senate will approve the bill, which will then become law if signed by President Jacque Chirac.
The doom and gloom scenario portrayed by Apple was articulated in a brief press release issued by the electronics giant. Although the bill contains over 400 reforms, the most significant is the amendment which forces Apple to open its proprietary FairPlay DRM scheme. In the release, Apple stated the bill equated state sponsored piracy.
"The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy. If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."
Since when is Apple so concerned about music sales other than its own? The funny thing of course is legitimate alternatives aren't truly winning over customers. However, a legitimate alternative is winning over customers - that of course being the iTunes music store. With over 80% of the market share, iTunes has been the singular driving force in the authorized music business.
While the music industry is content in the fact there is a viable market for such downloads, Apple's dominance is leaving little room for alternative distributors to prosper. Napster and Rhapsody, with a combined market share of less than 15%, have struggled because of their inability to allure iPod users.
Alternative services such as Napster and Rhapsody use Microsoft's WMA DRM scheme, which is not compatible with the iPod. Conversely, files from iTunes (FairPlay AAC) are only compatible with the iPod. Because of the iPod's dominance in the MP3 player market, owners of this unit can only participate on iTunes - or free P2P/file-sharing services. This blatant duality weakens the latter portion of Apple's statement.
"iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with `interoperable' music, which cannot be adequately protected," but it further warned, "Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy."
iPod owners have been freely loading their players with "interoperable" and "inadequately protected" music since day one. The same can be said for movies, as torrent sites and newsgroups specifically designed for iPod functionality continue to prosper.
The French reform bill will do little encourage an already encouraged buccaneer populace. Apple is furious of course at the prospect of loosing their iron-grip monopoly on the authorized music market. If the bill becomes law and is adopted throughout Europe, alternative stores will finally have a level playing field.
As admitted in their press release, piracy helps fuel iPod sales, which in turn helps the iTunes music store. It appears Apple isn't so concerned about piracy as they are about watching thier own sales decrease while the competition thrives.