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: Some random thoughts
3/24/2011 1:34:04 AM
All this discussion makes me go back one or two years ago on information not accurate about DRM and iTunes and I don't know how well informed are "we" all on this subject. And on my side, because I stooped worrying about it a while ago I forgot manny things and I cannot confirm or deny anything at a 100%.
On the claim that you are restricted to using the music on Apple/iTunes closed system at least I can say there are legal software to remove the DRM rights and play your legal purchased tunes where you decide. What I can't confirm is if it is legal in the US, but I am "almost" sure.
But also, I remember the upgrade to this legal status on iTunes more than a year ago when I personally upgraded and payed more for my purchased music to enable the 256 bit DRM format from 128 bits, and the new legal status with the new bitrate allowed me to own the music and not just license it. So the music is mine to play it where I want it.
On the discussion about the closed Apple system, this is their legal decision to implement it and yours to get into. But, to my not legal expertise this is all the same as the Xbox or Nintendo or Playstation. If you buy a game for a console system you have a closed system with a disc or software that only works on that specific ecosystem and manny times you cant get a specific title. It has its advantages and its disadvantages but, I don't think SONY or MS or Nintendo are money traps or wrong business models. I am speculating here as I prefer to play occasionally a few games on my PC and sometimes on my Mac. But for many people the Apple system works great and is not a trap more than any other commercial system. Start investing a lot of money and you are on your own, but don't blame big business models more than our all global society and yourself for not knowing what you are doing.
In my experience I have a small investment on iTunes and a way bigger collection from my CDs. It has being great because iTunes and Amazon allowed me to buy good quality music right at my desktop and because most of the tracks I purchased I would had a difficult time buying the whole CD. So I picked specific songs I always wanted. Also, I did the same on Amazon, and with property I can say that sometimes you could find the same song with different availability on both systems. I was able to buy some songs on Amazon that couldn't be purchased as separated on iTunes (only the album option was available). So Amazon is actually a great alternative.
In the end I can say there is nothing more frustrating than hating something and losing the opportunity to enjoy its advantages. I have both a Mac Pro and a very recent 2600K/ASUS/DELL Windows machine. And I don't know witch one I love more. But the same to my other brand devices. I research a lot and finally I invest on technology without concerns on "evil" practices anywhere by principle. As long as it delivers a service, I know what I am buying and it is good or best quality it becomes part of my repertoire if I can afford it.
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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
Twitter Senior VP: "Diversity is Important, But We Can’t Lower the Bar"
November 9, 2015, 9:59 AM
CNN Resorts to Internet Censorship to Promote Clinton Over Senator Sanders
October 15, 2015, 2:47 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Quick Note: Amazon UK Offers £10 Back on Any Order £50 or Over
August 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Editorial: Reddit Allows Itself to be Hijacked as a Hate Platform For Racist Bigots
July 21, 2015, 6:32 PM
Mozilla and Facebook to Adobe: It's Time to Kill Flash
July 20, 2015, 6:30 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 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information