PARIS -- French lawmakers approved an online copyright bill yesterday that would require Apple to break open the exclusive format behind its market-leading iTunes music store and iPod players.
The draft law -- which also sets new penalties for music pirates -- would force
Lawmakers in the National Assembly, France's lower house, voted 296-193 to approve the bill.
The legislation now has to be debated and voted by the Senate -- a process expected to begin in May.
Apple has so far refused to comment on the bill or on analysts' suggestions that the Cupertino, Calif., company might choose to withdraw from the French online music market rather than share the proprietary technology at the heart of its business model. Representatives for Apple France did not return calls yesterday.
Under the bill, companies would be required to reveal the secrets of hitherto-exclusive copy-protection technologies such as Apple's FairPlay format and the ATRAC3 code used by Sony's Connect store and Walkman players.