Apples on the Chopping Block

French consumer groups are just as misnamed as many American consumer groups. Their aim is not so much to benefit consumers as it is to punish corporate success.

A select committee in France that was considering a bill that would force the computer manufacturer Apple to open up its Fairplay digital rights management technology has, fortunately, “gutted” the bill.

The fact is the French Senate committee made a wise decision. The original legislation would have required the makers of DRM systems such as Apple’s Fairplay to provide technical information to competitors so that its iTunes songs could be used on non-Apple music players.

The decision, however, has enraged French consumer groups because the government won’t pirate intellectual property on their behalf. As a result, some are threatening to rush to the streets in protest.

Hey, let them protest. With a 35-hour mandatory work week and high unemployment, the French need something to do. And it’s been probably—what?—a month since the last nationwide protest. So what’s another riot?

While Apple narrowly missed being the victim of state-sponsored theft in France, it will soon have to turn its attention to Denmark, where two companies are agitating for legislation similar to the French bill.

Apple would have been fully justified if it pulled its iTunes Music Stores out of France had the French Senate followed the House and the bill had been approved and become law. It has the same leverage over Denmark, should it pursue the same misguided path.

It’s discouraging to see yet another energetic and innovative company being punished for its success. Apple, like Microsoft, has beaten the competition and it’s being rewarded in Europe by having to defend its intellectual property.

European countries would be better advised to focus on why innovation isn’t happening in Europe, rather than punishing U.S. companies for their success with European consumers.