Steve Jobs to Testify in iTunes Store Antitrust Case

iTunes Antitrust LawsuitApple CEO Steve Jobs has been ordered to testify in an antitrust lawsuit alleging the company is abusing a monopoly position in the digital music market, according to Bloomberg. The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in 2005, claimed Apple overstepped the law by blocking RealNetworks support on the iPod.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd said “The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software,” in his ruling.

The class action lawsuit against Apple alleges that the company updated the iPod software to prevent the RealNetworks Harmony software from working with the portable music player. The software change, released only days after the Harmony software, changed the iPod’s built-in copy protection scheme in such a way that music purchased from RealNetworks wouldn’t play on the device.

At the time, all music sold through Apple’s iTunes Store included FairPlay digital copy protection. The DRM scheme Apple used wasn’t available to other music resellers. In spring 2009, however, Apple dropped copy protection from all of the music it sells.

For its part, Apple’s legal team doesn’t think Mr. Jobs can offer any relevant testimony in the case. “Plaintiffs remaining claims rely on the allegation that Apple attempted to maintain a monopoly in the audio download and portable music player markets by issuing updates to FairPlay, Apple’s proprietary digital rights management software,” argued Apple attorney David Kiernan.

He added that any testimony Mr. Jobs offers will be repetitive.

The plaintiffs will be limited to questioning Mr. Jobs about the decision to update the iPod software following the release of the RealNetworks Harmony software.

Apple has not commented on the ruling.