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Apple is expected to negotiate new deals with record labels and artists to sidestep French government plans to open the copy-protection technology of its iTunes music service to rivals, under a draft Senate amendment to be voted on this week.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Cultural Affairs Committee, softens the terms of a government-backed copyright bill which Apple criticised as “state-sponsored piracy” after its first reading in March.

Apple’s market-leading iPod, which accounts for about 70 percent of US media-player sales, is currently designed to play music only from iTunes, which is also incompatible with rival players.

The bill adopted by the National Assembly included proposals that would force Apple, Sony and others to share their copy-protection technologies, so that competitors could offer music players and online stores that are compatible with theirs.

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