Our World. Our Minutae.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

France's DRM Law - The Perfect Marketing Opportunity!

Some people have noted that the law seems bizarre, arbitrary and strange - of course, that's what happens everywhere where lawmakers gather ...

Some have noted that it makes business more difficult and cumbersome.

Bwahahaha. Welcome to France - as a business person.

98% of the world use two TV video display formats, NTSC or PAL ... France?


That's right. Why a third format that offers no real distinct advantage?

No reason other than it's one that others and maybe in particular, the United States (NTSC) and Britain (PAL) are NOT using.

Same with the DRM issue. If it indeed passes, Apple (and MS) could simply argue that iTunes already allows files to be easily converted (CD audio format) to be playable on other devices (and legally approved by publishers & the recording industry). If that fails, Apple has two alternatives and it does NOT include opening up Fairplay.

1) Apple could insist that all tracks it sells in France not have any DRM. This is not likely to happen but you never know.

2) Apple could simply close up the store portion of iTunes in France - pretty easily done - just like if you're in Canada, you cannot buy US iTunes tracks (unless of course, you're willing to go to some effort to get a US address but of course, that's' another story). After all, the money is not really in selling the tracks but in the ipod. People can still buy CD's or of course, resort to illegal downloading.

AND this could be a marketing opportunity for Apple. In France, they could market the iPod as the "pirate" device the legislature and the recording industry doesn't want you to own. Culturally, that would ring a bell with most French people - they want exactly what the government doesn't want you to own.

Next, Apple could simply launch an iPod kiosk machine (one that doesn't erase your library when you plug it in) and place in the every train station and airport outside of France. A 2-hour train ride will take you to another country from most of France's biggest cities - plug in - buy all the "illegal" tracks you want. Apple gets the cache of something pirate and flouting the law but not really - sort of like jaywalking in a mall - hey, we'll take our thrills where we can :-)

And Apple can go even further with loading special tracks for sale only at particular cities or kiosks so you'd have bragging rights of being in Milan, Ibiza or Brussels.

So, the lawmakers are idiots in more ways than one - like all of France's problems have been solved ... But I'm sure this law was drawn and monetarily supported by France's version of the RIAA. In any language, they're just lawyerly and still stuck in the 19th century (yes, not even the 20th).