Apple Computer won itself a victory in the ongoing French iTunes interoperability case when the French constitutional council, the country’s top judicial entity, on Thursday said a handful of provisions in its “iPod law” are unconstitutional, The New York Times reports.
Dominique Menard, a partner with Lovells law firm and an intellectual property rights expert, told the Times: “Apple’s lawyers might want to drink a glass of French Champagne today, but not a whole bottle. The constitutional council has highlighted fundamental protections for intellectual property in such a way as to put iTunes a little further from risk of the French law.”
The council released on Thursday a 12-page document that made numerous mentions of France’s 1789 Declaration on Human Rights, and said the iTunes law was in violation of intellectual property protections guaranteed within the constitution, according to the Times.
Both the French National Assembly and Senate approved the iTunes law last month with the intention of forcing Apple’s iTunes to sell content that would function with any digital music player. Apple currently sells content only for use with its ultra-popular iPod device, and since the Cupertino, Calif.-based company owns the U.S. digital music player and download space, a handful of rivals complained that Apple was creating a monopoly.
The constitutional council’s ruling does not necessary save Apple from having to open up its iTunes store to competitors in the country; however, it does say that any company that makes its proprietary technologies or services open to rivals must be compensated, according to the Times. The council also did away with reduced fines associated with file sharing, the Times reports.
The iTunes law was reviewed by the council after 100 members of the National Assembly submitted requests, and a constitutional council review is one of the last steps in the process to make a French law official, according to the Times. The law could be made official now or it could be brought before the French Parliament for an additional review, the Times reports.
Though the council’s finding is indeed a break for Apple, Jean-Baptiste Soufron, a legal director with the Association of Audionautes, an entity that protests against copy restrictions, told the Times that Apple may be less pleased with the fact that it still may have to license its iTunes Music Store.
“It is good news for Apple because they receive monetary compensation, but much bigger bad news if it forces them to license iTunes,” Soufron told the Times.
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