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BuzzBites: Diffusing a Compatibility Bomb

What do Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, France's Minister of Culture and Communications, and Richard Stallman, founder of the free software movement, have in common? Both are taking aim at proprietary audio formats. On June 30, the French government passed a law that seeks to make music purchased from iTunes compatible with a variety of digital players.

Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation is hosting a petition calling on Bono--U2's front man and, more significantly, Apple's pitchman--to denounce digital rights management (see petition text at bonopetition).

We're intrigued by the loophole that's earning the French bill the adjective "watered down": A clause allows DRM restrictions to a single music player at the request of the copyright holder. So, Apple, Sony and others would need artists' permission to keep work proprietary. That leverage could empower musicians--industry experts suggest only 7 cents to 9 cents of the 99 cents it costs to download a recorded music track actually goes to the source. Achtung, Apple. --Lorna Garey, [email protected]

Hard Copy Is The New Black

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