Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Steve Jobs Words To Feature in Apple Antitrust Case
Apple’s Dominance of the digital music market has declined as the market shifts to streaming on demand. As Apple attempts to win back lost ground with its recently acquired Beats music streaming services and embed the enabling app in its latest update to the iOS operating system used on iPhones and iPads, it once again faces many questions in court over its previous iTunes software practices within the digital music market.
The current Californian case, brought by Melanie Wilson and Marianna Rosen, is seeking $350 million and under its class action status, it is estimated that the lawsuit could award damages to as many as 8 million people who purchased an iPod between September 12, 2006, and March 31, 2009. The case has evolved significantly since the original 2005 filing and now alleges Apple made a series of software updates to iTunes which were specifically designed to shut out competing music stores' ability to load their songs onto iPods.
The case centres around Apple’s use of its Fair Play DRM (Digital Rights Management) software and claims that by restricting ITunes tracks to iPods and others’ tracks from iPods, Apple forced buyers to use iPods instead of rival devices between 2006 and 2009. It is claimed that this in turn artificially inflated the price of iPods and resulted in harming consumers in the process.
Now a video of and emails by the late Steve Jobs are even being used in court as evidence against Apple.
Bonny Sweeney, the lead plaintiffs' lawyer stated that, "Apple made those changes to its software after top executives at Apple learned that competitors had figured out a way to have their songs played on the iPod." He also claims that the updates, "did not make the iPod faster, improve sound quality, did not make the iPod sleeker or smaller or cooler," but "prevented customers who had legally purchased songs from Apple's competitors from playing those songs on their iPod."
Apple counter stating that iPod prices were not set with reference to its rivals and that in 2006, rivals such as RealPlayer had less than 3% of the online music market and had little influence on their pricing.
Apple's iTunes store sold DRM encoded music track which not only prevented unauthorised copying but also could not be played on competing devices such as Microsoft's Zune and that songs from rival online stores could not be played on Apple’s iPods. The code that would go so far as to force users to reset their iPods if they were loaded with unauthorized MP3 files, wiping the devices clean. The code was removed from iTunes in 2009 and now music and other licensed media purchased from other companies can now be played on Apple devices.
It’s interesting to note that there are many who would suggest that the DRM ‘walled gardens’ within the ebook market have many similarities and in some cases also support hardware offers and although they are subtly different defining what is right and wrong may be hard.