Apple Computer has slammed the French parliament's contentious decision yesterday (March 21) to introduce the right to interoperability in the long-awaited copyright bill. In a statement issued today,

Apple Computer has slammed the French parliament's contentious decision yesterday (March 21) to introduce the right to interoperability in the long-awaited copyright bill.

In a statement issued today, the computer giant said France's implementation of the European Union Copyright Directive "will result in state-sponsored piracy."

Apple added, "If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers."

The bill introduces the right to interoperability between digital services and devices, a move which poses a potential threat to Apple Computer's dominance of the digital download market through its iTunes Music Store.

It would effectively force Apple Computer to open up its until-now closed digital music store to be compatible with rival music players.

Tnternational trade body the IFPI suggested that the current text was not sufficiently clear on interoperability, and said it was looking to clarify the point in advance of the vote by the Senate.

"Interoperability is crucial to attracting consumers to buy music online, but it should not be at the cost of endangering the technology used to enable legitimate offerings of music and services online," the IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy said in a statement issued today.

Apple admits the law would likely boost sales of its market-leading iPod music player, but warns its users would freely load their devices with "interoperable music which cannot be adequately protected."

And in a warning to the movie industry, Apple claimed "free movies for iPods should not be far behind." Apple unveiled its video-enabled iPod last October.

The French bill now has to be approved by the country's Senate. Discussions on it are expected to start at the beginning of May.