The French parliament has backed plans to give consumers more choice over music downloads from the Internet.

According to the BBC: “MPs backed a draft law to force Apple, Sony and Microsoft to share their proprietary copy-protection systems by 296 to 193 votes”.

The result means that if approved by France's upper house, the Senate it would make Apple's iTunes software illegal.

The French bill says that proprietary copy-protection technologies must not block interoperability between different systems.

The move, as Pocket-lint reported last week could mean that Apple is forced to either close down its Apple Store in France or open up its technology to allow users to save files on other MP3 players other than an iPod.

Although Apple wouldn't be the only service affected it would have the most dramatic effect as it dominates 70% of the download market across the globe.

While other services like Napster, Virgin and HMV's service allows users to download to a number of different players owned by a number of different manufacturers like Samsung and Creative, Apple iTunes users currently can only download music to transfer to an iPod or Motorola iTunes phone.

The draft copyright law also introduces fines of between 38 and 150 euros (£26-£104) for people pirating music or movies at home.

Talking to Pocket-lint Rudy Tambala, Head of Virgin Digital, commented: “The decision by the French courts is a great move for consumers. The current situation is like buying a Sony CD and only being able to play it on a Sony CD player - it just doesn't make sense. Virgin Digital has always been completely open to working with Apple, and in actual fact, we would like to see Steve Jobs get together with Richard Branson to discuss a solution that is in the best interests of all consumers”.


An Apple spokesman told Pocket-lint "The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy. If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers. iPod sales will likely increase as users freely load their iPods with 'interoperable' music which cannot be adequately protected. Free movies for iPods should not be far behind in what will rapidly become a state-sponsored culture of piracy."