iPod Class Action Moves Forward, Eligible Owners Notified

Apple customers who purchased an iPod between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009 have been notified of their class status in a class-action lawsuit against the company initially filed over two years ago. The suit seeks damages against the iDevice maker for unfairly blocking competition with its propriety DRM utilized by both iPods and iTunes.

Potential class members were notified of their status in emails (PDF) delivered early Wednesday. Although the class-action was granted in November 2011, notifications to consumers are now being delivered following failed settlement negotiations earlier this month.

iPod Class Action Lawsuit Notice

The court approved notice sent to potential class members.

The suit’s origins date back to the early days of the iTunes Music store. In 2004, RealNetworks released software called “Harmony,” which let users of Real’s digital music service play their purchased tracks on a number of devices, including the iPod. It accomplished this latter feat by circumventing Apple’s FairPlay DRM solution, essentially “converting” its own songs into FairPlay DRM’d files that the iPod recognized.

Apple characterized Real’s actions as those of a “hacker” and shortly thereafter released an iPod firmware update, closing the hole Real used to make Harmony work and once again limiting the iPod to music obtained via the iTunes Music Store and unprotected files. 

In the aftermath of Apple’s actions, several iPod owners filed suits against the company, accusing it of illegally blocking competition. Over the years the suits were consolidated until a class-action was finally granted late last year.

Those Apple customers not receiving the email notification can find out more about the suit at its dedicated website. Class-eligible customers have two options: do nothing and become part of the class, or opt out and retain the right to sue Apple individually. Those seeking to opt out must notify the consulting firm handling the lawsuit’s logistics by July 30, 2012.

A detailed list of iPod models covered by the suit can be found at the suit’s website.