Digital Lefts Management in France

Two things interest me in this story explaining Apple’s possible response to French legislation requiring that songs purchased online be playable on any mp3 player. Personally, I think the choice is simple: Apple should close shop in France. When citizens in France are still walking around with the latest iPod every time Apple releases a new product, the government will have its answer on which the French consumer values more. Capitulation to the French central planners would only encourage other central planners in Europe. I suspect Apple pulling out of France would lead to the same nonsense surrounding region-encoded DVD players, preventing online purchases of non-compliant players. Permit central planners to invade on the small things and they’ll control the big things, too. So Apple should leave France.

More intriguing is this:

Members of the activist group Free Software Foundation have staged protests this summer outside of Apple stores across the country, with members dressed in colorful toxic waste suits and carrying signs that rate digital rights management software such as Apple’s as “Defective by Design,” the name of the group’s campaign.

Henri Poole, a Free Software Foundation board member, said that such software restrictions infringe on consumer rights and are designed to protect “antiquated business models.”

“We purchase [songs] and we think we have the same rights we had two years ago, but those rights are being eroded and the [digital rights management] rules can even be changed after you’ve purchased,” he said.

I agree that excessive DRM is indeed “defective by design.” However, as I’ve said before, I’ve come to accept that with the iPod and iTunes. I knew going into the deal exactly what Apple expects, what it will license to me. As such, I won’t argue that my rights are being eroded. Perhaps they are, but if I value something else more (convenience, functionality), that’s my choice. I don’t need a central planner to tell me how I’m supposed to enjoy my iPod. I want it to have Sirius functionality, but I’m not going to ask Congress to require it.

Of course, economically, I’m still discussing the French, so I leave open the possibility that French consumers believe it’s better to have nothing than something if that something is “exploitative”. If so, c’est la vie. I’m not the boss of them.