The French Senate last night (May 10) adopted an amended version of the long-awaited copyright bill with a show of 164 votes for and 128 against.

The French Senate last night (May 10) adopted an amended version of the long-awaited copyright bill with a show of 164 votes for and 128 against.

The revised version of the text introduces some key changes to the text voted on by the Parliament on March 21.

Notably, a controversial option that would have banned closed digital rights management has been swept aside.

The earlier text had obliged companies using proprietary DRM to make public all information necessary to ensure interoperability between digital services and music players -- a clause that was immediately slammed by Apple Computer as promoting "state-sponsored piracy."

Instead, the Senate voted for the creation of a regulatory authority to act as a watchdog on DRM and private copy issues. This authority would be entitled to require DRM technology firms to ensure interoperability of their products.

The creation of such a body was vigorously debated, with senators from opposing parties arguing that the move would not effectively guarantee interoperability.

Analysts have warned that the revised text contains a potential loophole which could allow DRM technology firms -- such as Apple Computer -- to duck the interoperability requirement by renegotiating deals with individual copyright holders.

The final version of the bill must, by law, be negotiated by a dedicated commission of seven senators and seven members of parliament. It is understood this commission may begin work on it by the end of May.