Leading French lawmakers voted Thursday to water down a draft copyright law that could force Apple Computer Inc. to make its iPod music player and iTunes online store compatible with rivals' offerings.
But the changes did not appear to go far enough to satisfy Apple, which dropped the strongest hint yet that it might withdraw from the French download market rather than comply.
Currently, music bought at Apple iTunes can be played only on iPods, and an iPod can't play songs bought at rival online stores, such as Sony Corp.'s Connect. Critics have called the restrictions anti-competitive and anti-consumer, but the lock-in is a key part of the companies' business models.
The National Assembly, France's lower house, voted in March to force companies such as Apple and Sony to abandon their closed approaches and hand over exclusive copy-protection technologies to any rival.