The interoperability element makes it possible for competitors of, for example, Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, to build players capable of playing music bought from the iTunes Music Store, or for others to create online music stores selling protected works that will play on an iPod.
For now, Apple refuses to license its DRM system to others, leaving those wishing to create interoperable systems no option but to reverse-engineer Apple's system by breaking the DRM protection. The June 30 punished the breaking of DRM protection by six months in prison and a €30,000 fine, but exempted those doing so to develop interoperable systems.
With so much at stake for open-source developers and others wanting to build interoperable music and video players while staying on the right side of the law, the socialists had asked the Council to define the term "interoperability," undefined in the text. But the Council, rather than clarify matters, simply deleted the word, removing the exemption and exposing open-source DRM developers to the full force of the law.