Saturday, April 15, 2006

French competition law will not promote piracy

DRM is killing musicMore anti-competitive nonsense from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, this time about French proposals to require the manufacturers of Digital Rights Management systems to allow other systems to interoperate with their technology:

[DRM] allows Apple to constrain the use of the songs to certified software and devices, giving them more control over the listener’s experience. It also puts a damper on illegal copying and distribution, giving the record companies who license Apple to sell the songs some peace of mind.

This line (which has also been spun by the US Secretary of Commerce) shows total ignorance of how computer security systems work. Rather than relying on obscurity of their underlying technology, well-designed security systems prevent unauthorised access to data using secret encryption keys. Publishing details of the system's design usually increases security because it allows third parties to verify the security of the scheme. Apple would be forced by the French law to publish details of their DRM design, not the keys that restrict access to music downloaded through their iTunes system.

The real threat from the French proposal is to Apple's business model, which locks iTunes customers to expensive iPods. How ironic that the French parliament is giving lessons to the American government and certain think-tanks on competition and capitalism.

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