Apple Finally Faces Trial in Class Action Suit Over iTunes/iPod

iPod. Remember when that was a thing? There's a group of lawyers somewhere who do, because Apple is finally facing a long-threatened class action lawsuit accusing Apple of antitrust violations concerning iPod and iTunes. The trial starts on Tuesday, according to Reuters, and plaintiffs are seeking US$350 million in damages.

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The suit started life in 2005 as a complaint about Apple refusing to license FairPlay, the company's digital rights management (DRM) scheme. Apple was contractually required by music labels at the time to have DRM restrictions on music sold through iTunes.

Apple used that DRM to restrict playback of iTunes Store songs to iTunes on Macs and Windows, and to iPods. The late Steve Jobs said at the time that Apple didn't want DRM at all, but that it was on the hook if FairPlay got cracked, and thus wouldn't license it.

The record labels eventually dropped the DRM demand, and claims related to FairPlay were essentially stripped from the class action—but, Apple still faces claims that it tried to illegally monopolize both digital media players and online music sales.

Never mind that there were more crappy portable digital media players than you could shake a stick at before and after the iPod, and never mind that hardly a week went by for many years that a new online music store opened up or shut down.

BuyMusic anyone? That didn't fail because of Apple's DRM.

Anyway, the case is going to trial. As The Wall Street Journal put it, "The case involving the iPod has kicked around various Bay Area federal courts for a decade."

Mainstream coverage of the suit has focused on the reality that the late Steve Jobs will have a presence in the trial in the form of depositions and emails. Mr. Jobs's penchant for speaking directly to the point has figured prominently in Apple's antitrust case in the ebook market, and in Apple's collusion with Google, Facebook, Pixar, and other Silicon Valley tech companies to prevent poaching.