Apple Accused of Restricting Consumer Choice; Jobs Forced to Testify
March 23, 2011 11:02 AM
comment(s) - last by
RealNetworks raises serious questions about Apple's tactics with iTunes
An order issued earlier this week by a federal magistrate judge will require
CEO Steve Jobs to answer questions regarding an
iTunes antitrust suit
, Apple's proprietary digital media player application, was launched in 2003. It became wildly successful, even beating Wal-Mart as the biggest music retailer in April 2008.
But according to
, a Seattle-based provider of Internet media software and services, iTunes allegedly utilized unfair practices in the digital media industry between October 2004 and March 2009. In july 2004, RealNetworks announced that its online store offered music that could be used on iPods through a technology called Harmony. Five days later, Apple
to its iPod FairPlay software, which is a proprietary software used by Apple to encode its digital music files. The iPod FairPlay software allowed iTunes music files to be used only on iPods, and blocked digital music sold by other companies to be played on the iPod. This included RealNetworks' digital files.
In 2005, Thomas Slattery, an iTunes customer, filed a lawsuit on behalf of customers who believe Apple "illegally limited consumer choice" by making iTunes exclusively for iPod and vice versa. He asserted antitrust claims from Apple's use of the FairPlay software.
In 2008, Apple faced the same issues with consumers in Europe who complained about the lack of compatibility with iTunes and the iPod. The European Union Competition Commission started an inquiry in 2005, where regulators from Norway, Denmark and Sweden examined the situation. As a result, Apple lowered the prices of iTunes tracks in the United Kingdom.
In March 2009, iTunes began selling digital music without the proprietary software, and in May 2010, the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division began looking into Apple's business
practices associated with iTunes
and the iPod.
Now, U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose, California has issued an order that allows lawyers for consumers to question Jobs. The deposition can only consist of questions regarding Apple's software changes made in October 2004, which prevented digital tracks from RealNetworks from being played on the iPod. In addition, the deposition can only be two hours long.
"The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software," said Lloyd.
Lloyd also declined requests from the plaintiff
to question Jobs
regarding Apple's refusal to license FairPlay to other companies as well as the companies use of the software on digital tracks from iTunes and the iPod. Both claims were dismissed from the litigation in December 2009.
"Plaintiffs remaining claims rely on the allegation that Apple attempted to maintain a monopoly in the audio download and portable music player market by issuing updates to FairPlay, Apple's proprietary digital rights management software," said David Kiernan, Apple's attorney.
Also, Kiernan noted that "any deposition of Mr. Jobs would be repetitive, at best."
A deposition has not been scheduled yet, according to San Diego lawyer Bonny E. Sweeney, who is representing the plaintiffs, but a hearing regarding Apple's motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for April 18.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Not really...
3/23/2011 12:19:21 PM
They took the DRM off of the iTunes music a few years back already. I understand avoiding buying iTunes content prior to that (hell, or even now if you want lossless CD quality or better), but I used my iPod for years before that with my own ripped CD content (both mp3 and AAC), so I'm not sure music is the best example of Apple making a walled garden at this point. AAC certainly isn't Apple's own codec. (It's Advanced Audio Coding, not Apple's Audio Codec...)
Video is another matter, though we can thank the content producers for that - I don't think Apple gives a crap about adding proprietary DRM beyond the fact that they
to in order to be able to sell/stream movies and shows since they can't get content contracts without agreeing to that. You can't copy a Netflix show out of their streaming walled garden to your hard drive and watch it when/where you want either unless they enable it in their own app or someone else hacks the DRM, I'm sure Microsoft (whether relevant or not) isn't making the XBox streaming DRM free today either.
So sure, blame Apple for things they either aren't even doing to the content, or that they - and every other player out there - have to thanks to the MPAA, etc.
Apps... well, there you have the fact that Apple isn't trying to make iOS for other hardware. That's their choice, and consumers can vote for what they like there. (Or are you pissed if a Windows app won't run on Linux too?) But really, subjugated? Not so much.
"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
Bon Jovi: Shot to the Heart and Jobs is to Blame, He Gives Music a Bad Name
March 14, 2011, 9:25 PM
Apple, Record Companies Discuss Changes to iTunes Service
March 4, 2011, 10:32 AM
UPDATED: Apple iOS 4.3 Now Available to Download
March 9, 2011, 1:10 PM
Netflix Announces 7-to-1 Stock Split, Eyes Explosive Overseas Growth
June 23, 2015, 8:18 PM
Sources: Hack on Fed. Database Lost 4.1M Social Security Numbers, Personal Info
June 11, 2015, 9:11 PM
The Big One: Chinese Hackers Steal Records of 4 Million U.S. Gov. Employees
June 4, 2015, 8:13 PM
Tutorial: Here's How to Force YouTube or Vimeo VIdeos to Embed as HTML5
June 3, 2015, 10:14 PM
Google Finally Fixes Maps Bug That Was Giving Racist, Profane Results
May 21, 2015, 1:43 PM
The Pirate Bay Loses Its Iconic Swedish Dot SE Domains
May 20, 2015, 6:31 PM
Most Popular Articles
F-16 Schools Trillion-Dollar F-35 in Mock Combat, Fleeing is Best Option Pilot Admits
July 1, 2015, 5:53 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
SanDisk's 200GB microSDXC Card Turns Smartphones Into Enviable PMPs
June 26, 2015, 2:02 PM
Windows XP, Vista Users Can Get Free Windows 10 Upgrade Thanks to Loophole
June 23, 2015, 2:23 PM
Apple Music: The Money, The Launch Hiccups, and the Nitty Gritty Details
June 30, 2015, 5:09 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information