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France approves iTunes law

Apple Computer will have to play better with digital-music others in France.

That's the upshot of legislation that French lawmakers gave final approval to Friday. It could force Apple to make its iPod music player and iTunes Music Store compatible with those from rivals. It would make the same demands of companies such as Microsoft and Sony.

An earlier version of the legislation drew fierce criticism from Apple as "state-sponsored piracy" because it would have required companies to share details of their digital rights management technologies. The law as passed reflects a more recent compromise that offers some wiggle room--interoperability is still mandated, but doesn't have to be enforced if services like iTunes get the permission of rights holders such as musicians and record labels to use DRM.

Apple had threatened to bid adieu to France rather than share its DRM secrets with rivals.