Apple Moves to Dismiss FairPlay Antitrust Lawsuit

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Apple wants RealPlayer antitrust lawsuit dumpedApple has asked a Federal Court judge to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit that claims the company manipulated the FairPlay copy protection in iTunes Store music to intentionally block RealNetworks from loading music onto iPods. The lawsuit was filed in 2005, and just last month Apple CEO Steve Jobs was ordered to provide a deposition in the case.

The consumer-initiated lawsuit followed a change in Apple’s software that came only days after RealNetworks introduced its Harmony application that could load music that was purchased from its own service onto an iPod, bypassing the iTunes Store. At the time, music purchased from Apple included FairPlay digital rights management copy protection that was supported only by the iPod.

When Apple updated its FairPlay DRM, Harmony couldn’t load music onto iPods.

Now that Mr. Jobs’s deposition is complete, Apple’s legal team is asking the court to dismiss the case, according to Bloomberg. The company claims it made the change to its software to ensure that customers received the best possible user experience.

“Apple’s view is that iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third party software that can cause corruption or other problems,” Apple attorney Robert Mittelstaedt told the court.

The decision to change the software followed 58 complaints Apple received from customers having issues downloading music from other services.

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware, who is hearing the case, said he will issue a ruling on Apples motion to dismiss in May. Apple hasn’t commented on the lawsuit.

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Comments

Rob

Let me preface this by saying I don’t anything about FairPlay or how it is supposed to work…but if Apple implemented FairPlay to standards and the other services implemented FairPlay to standards, why would there be issues downloading music from the other services to the iPod?

Lee Dronick

Might as well get this out of the way right now so that we can get in with the discussion:

Welcome to their online store selling cheap knockoffs.

Icesnake

?Apple?s view is that iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third party software that can cause corruption or other problems,? Apple attorney Robert Mittelstaedt told the court.

That’s a nice way to rephrase “It was Apple’s intention to prevent third-party vendors from selling music to iPod owners through the use of anti-competitive technological measures.”

Lee Dronick

That?s a nice way to rephrase ?It was Apple?s intention to prevent third-party vendors from selling music to iPod owners through the use of anti-competitive technological measures.?

I have had no problem getting music from sources other than the iTunes Store into iTunes and then on to my iPods. I can download MP3s to disk and then import them into iTunes or rip CDs that I have bought.

Rob

I can download MP3s to disk and then import them into iTunes or rip CDs that I have bought.

I think RealNetworks’ point was that you shouldn’t have to download MP3s to disk and then import them into iTunes to get them on the iPod. Rather, if you used RealNetworks’ Fairplay-compliant service, you should have been able to download the music directly onto the iPod w/o going through iTunes. Or maybe you’re being sarcastic??? It’s hard to tell sometimes, my apologies if you are.

Lee Dronick

I think RealNetworks? point was that you shouldn?t have to download MP3s to disk and then import them into iTunes to get them on the iPod. Rather, if you used RealNetworks? Fairplay-compliant service, you should have been able to download the music directly onto the iPod w/o going through iTunes. Or maybe you?re being sarcastic??? It?s hard to tell sometimes, my apologies if you are.

No I wasn’t being sarcastic. Apple is defending their iTunes Store business, but not stopping us from putting 3rd party source music into our iTunes.

Rob

Apple is defending their iTunes Store business

.

On this we are agreed.

However, the issue at point is putting 3rd party source music directly onto the iPod w/o using iTunes. Does that make sense?

RealNetworks is arguing that if you plug in your iPod, you should be able to download music directly to the iPod using their Harmony service w/o having to launch iTunes, import your music and then download onto the iPod.

Lee Dronick

RealNetworks is arguing that if you plug in your iPod, you should be able to download music directly to the iPod using their Harmony service w/o having to launch iTunes, import your music and then download onto the iPod.


On this we also agree, that is what RealNetworks wants. However, why should Apple allow that?

Rob

However, why should Apple allow that?

You got me. I have no idea why they would do that. I’m just saying that if Apple created FairPlay so that other music services could interact with the iPod but then pulled back on it, that doesn’t seem right, does it? After RealNetworks invested in Fairplay only to get shut down by Apple because they changed their mind.

Lee Dronick

Rob the way I understand it FairlPlay files can be freely played on iPods/iOS. Getting those files onto the device is the sticking point. I can see both sides to the argument, but my fanboyism aside I side with Apple on this. RealNetwork files can come into the walled garden, but they have to go through the official garden gate.

furbies

if Apple implemented FairPlay to standards and the other services implemented FairPlay to standards, why would there be issues downloading music from the other services to the iPod?

Surely, iTunes would have had conniptions eventually ?

Doesn’t iTunes keep track of what’s on an iDevice, and if 3rd party Apps started downloading their music etc into an iDevice, and then you synced your iDevice with iTunes then there would be an accident, and something would overwritten or deleted, and then the users would have complained/sued Apple for not protecting them (the users) from their own folly ?

Lee Dronick

Doesn?t iTunes keep track of what?s on an iDevice, and if 3rd party Apps started downloading their music etc into an iDevice, and then you synced your iDevice with iTunes then there would be an accident, and something would overwritten or deleted, and then the users would have complained/sued Apple for not protecting them (the users) from their own folly

I think that is a part of it, maybe the biggest part.

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