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Judge orders Steve Jobs to answer questions in iTunes antitrust suit

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has been ordered by a judge to answer questions in a class-action lawsuit accusing Apple of an iTunes Music Store monopoly, according to court documents.

Bloomberg reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose, Calif., authorized on Monday limited questioning of Jobs by lawyers representing consumers in the complaint. Lawyers will be allowed two hours for questions limited to the sole topic of changes Apple made to iPod software in October 2004 that disrupted RealNetworks' Harmony software, which enabled songs purchased from the company's music store to be transferred onto the iPod.

The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software, Lloyd wrote in a court filing.

RealNetworks caused a controversy in July 2004 when it released its Harmony work-around. Responding to the announcement of the software, Apple quickly released a statement accusing the company of adopting "the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod" and warning customers that it was "highly likely" that Real's Harmony technology would not work with future versions of the iPod software.

As self-predicted, Apple disabled Harmony in a subsequent update to its iPod software later that year.

RealNetwork admitted to investors in 2005 that the Harmony technology had put the company at risk to a lawsuit from Apple.

However, such a lawsuit failed to materialize, and now the tables have turned as Apple finds itself on the defensive in the proceedings of an antitrust lawsuit from 2005. Thomas Slattery filed a class-action lawsuit in early 2005 alleging that Apple had violated federal antitrust laws and California's unfair competition law by requiring that customers use an iPod to listen to music purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

Though Apple was successful at having a few individual claims dismissed from the suit through a court filing in 2005, an overall motion to dismiss the case was denied by a judge.

According to the report, plaintiffs had originally requested to more broadly question Jobs about "Apple's refusal to license FairPlay technology to other companies or its decision to use the technology on music purchased from iTunes and the iPod." But given that those claims were dismissed in December 2009, Lloyd rejected the requests.

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, Apples proprietary digital rights management software, David Kiernan, who represents Apple, wrote in a December court filing, adding that any deposition of Mr. Jobs would be repetitive, at best.

Since the lawsuit was originally filed, Apple has negotiated with music labels for a more open iTunes Music Store. A footnote in a court document notes that, by March 2009, iTunes music tracks are now offered without digital rights management (DRM).

Jobs, who is a survivor of a rare form of pancreatic cancer, is currently on an indefinite medical leave of absence from Apple. After Jobs began his leave in mid-January, speculation arose that his health was in serious decline, with one tabloid publishing alleged photos of an emaciated Jobs at Stanford Cancer Center. Contrary to some rumors, however, Jobs was well enough to take the stage earlier this month for the unveiling of the iPad 2.
post #2 of 19
This can quickly be shot down, because an iPod is obviously NOT the only way to listen to iTunes store purchased music. You can listen to music on any of the Apple computers, you can listen to it streaming over AppleTV, you can listen to it on an iPhone and an iPad!

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

This can quickly be shot down, because an iPod is obviously NOT the only way to listen to iTunes store purchased music. You can listen to music on any of the Apple computers, you can listen to it streaming over AppleTV, you can listen to it on an iPhone and an iPad!

More so than that you can listen to any iTunes purchased music through any device, software or system that can playback MP3. The option to convert tracks is available with a single click on any track.
you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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you only have freedom in choice when you know you have no choice
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post #4 of 19
Quote:
RealNetwork admitted to investors in 2005 that the Harmony technology had put the company at risk to a lawsuit from Apple.

I guess it's time to bring out that law suit.

RealNetworks is an extremely shady organization. Interviewing for them back when Real was hot had me end up interviewing with the VP of Technologies who had come over from Avid asking me insider information about QuickTime after I left Apple.

They are scum.

I don't think he liked my turning the interview around on him after he let slip that once we [NeXT] took over, Avid's billion dollar offer for QuickTime was squashed, with Steve's first action as iCEO. I asked him what he learned with such a failure in business, seeing as he was Real's VP of business technologies and acquisitions.
post #5 of 19
But Apple never intended for software other than iTunes to load music onto iPods. That RealNetworks "hacked" their way onto iPods was an unauthorized breach. Apple can't be found at fault for sealing an unauthorized breach into their ecosystem. The judge didn't just dismiss the case for some reason. What am I missing?

"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has been ordered by a judge to answer questions in a class-action lawsuit accusing Apple of an iTunes Music Store monopoly, according to court documents.



RealNetwork admitted to investors in 2005 that the Harmony technology had put the company at risk to a lawsuit from Apple.



I think Apple should sue RealNetworks.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

More so than that you can listen to any iTunes purchased music through any device, software or system that can playback MP3. The option to convert tracks is available with a single click on any track.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

But Apple never intended for software other than iTunes to load music onto iPods. That RealNetworks "hacked" their way onto iPods was an unauthorized breach. Apple can't be found at fault for sealing an unauthorized breach into their ecosystem. The judge didn't just dismiss the case for some reason. What am I missing?

Both are right and wrong at the same time. Apple cut RealNetworks off from pulling a trick somewhat like the Palm Pre tried to use iTunes natively. Other devices are allowed access to the library via the iTunes Library XML file, they just couldn't use Apples built-in syncing. Once upon a time there was even a plug-in framework, but when the Library XML file came around that became unnecessary. It isn't necessary to go into writing out an MP3 at all, unless you are trying to circumvent DRM and then it's awfully sketchy for a manufacturer to sue over that..

There is absolutely nothing preventing another device manufacturer from accessing the iTunes library via a plugin or separate code, and several from that era actually have: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2172.

This is also how all the iPod integration is done for vehicles and external players. Today Sonos uses the iTunes Library XML file to move music from the local iTunes library to a copy on a NAS for use with their players (when a user wants to of course).

So the lockdown RealNetworks is claiming doesn't exist, they just weren't allowed to freeload off Apple's code. They had full access to the files and library listing to write their own code against.

As for the DRM in those days, that is a contractual label issue where the labels were more than willing to license in multiple DRM formats so not much to sue over there either. Well unless they want to say everyone else was responsible for handling DRM code and licensing for them for free too.
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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

Both are right and wrong at the same time. Apple cut RealNetworks off from pulling a trick somewhat like the Palm Pre tried to use iTunes natively. Other devices are allowed access to the library via the iTunes Library XML file, they just couldn't use Apples built-in syncing. Once upon a time there was even a plug-in framework, but when the Library XML file came around that became unnecessary. It isn't necessary to go into writing out an MP3 at all, unless you are trying to circumvent DRM and then it's awfully sketchy for a manufacturer to sue over that..

There is absolutely nothing preventing another device manufacturer from accessing the iTunes library via a plugin or separate code, and several from that era actually have: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2172.

This is also how all the iPod integration is done for vehicles and external players. Today Sonos uses the iTunes Library XML file to move music from the local iTunes library to a copy on a NAS for use with their players (when a user wants to of course).

So the lockdown RealNetworks is claiming doesn't exist, they just weren't allowed to freeload off Apple's code. They had full access to the files and library listing to write their own code against.

As for the DRM in those days, that is a contractual label issue where the labels were more than willing to license in multiple DRM formats so not much to sue over there either. Well unless they want to say everyone else was responsible for handling DRM code and licensing for them for free too.

Meh, Real's argument sucks I agree. But what Apple is doing is pretty shady too.

What Apple is advertising/posing to consumers is the inconvenience they have to go through when they use other Stores / or try to switch to different devices.
(e.g. had to purchase again since what they purchased are DRM locked, though not anymore /
have to purchase same apps again if they want to use Android devices, though it is not clearly at Apple's fault).

Such inconvenience itself, of course, is not a good reason to call Apple acting anti competitively.
However, if that inconvenience is keeps increasing by how Apple's behaviors are allowed at this moment, and if that inconvenience becomes one of compelling reasons to choose Apple's product or stick to that of, then I don't see why you can't call Apple anti-competitive and limits its actions.

But I have to admit, Apple is so good that it is so difficult to pin-point illegitimate behaviors that Apple do to increase the inconvenience.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

This can quickly be shot down, because an iPod is obviously NOT the only way to listen to iTunes store purchased music. You can listen to music on any of the Apple computers, you can listen to it streaming over AppleTV, you can listen to it on an iPhone and an iPad!

You forgot the umpteen billion CD players out there. People these days seem to forget you have always been able to convert your iTunes purchases to a universal and open format by clicking BURN.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


As for the DRM in those days, that is a contractual label issue where the labels were more than willing to license in multiple DRM formats so not much to sue over there either. Well unless they want to say everyone else was responsible for handling DRM code and licensing for them for free too.

As you say, the record labels insisted on DRM at the time and Apple were only following their contractual obligations. Game over, no case to answer.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by bfpseller View Post

I am seeing this as another chance for Apple to have a free PR

Yeah, Apple really needs more 'free PR'.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

More so than that you can listen to any iTunes purchased music through any device, software or system that can playback MP3. The option to convert tracks is available with a single click on any track.

I'm pretty sure that's not true even today, and it certainly wasn't true during the DRM era. Yes, you could burn tracks to a CD and then reimport them as MP3s, but that's a far cry from converting tracks with a single click. Defeating the DRM was pretty easy, but in no way an Apple-sanctioned feature.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loptimist View Post

Meh, Real's argument sucks I agree. But what Apple is doing is pretty shady too.

What Apple is advertising/posing to consumers is the inconvenience they have to go through when they use other Stores / or try to switch to different devices.
(e.g. had to purchase again since what they purchased are DRM locked, though not anymore /
have to purchase same apps again if they want to use Android devices, though it is not clearly at Apple's fault).

Such inconvenience itself, of course, is not a good reason to call Apple acting anti competitively.
However, if that inconvenience is keeps increasing by how Apple's behaviors are allowed at this moment, and if that inconvenience becomes one of compelling reasons to choose Apple's product or stick to that of, then I don't see why you can't call Apple anti-competitive and limits its actions.

But I have to admit, Apple is so good that it is so difficult to pin-point illegitimate behaviors that Apple do to increase the inconvenience.

Completely wrong. What you are describing: the inconvenience of switching to other stores/devices increase to such an extent that it becomes a compelling reason to stay with Apple product, is a very common and desired effect in business: the lockin effect. There's absolutely nothing wrong with striving for it, and in fact, every business strives for it.

Calling Apple anti-competitive, or shaddy for achieving it on such a wide scale is simply ridiculus. It would be equivalent of calling a dynastic sports team anti-competitive or shaddy for beating everyone else handily.
post #14 of 19
Why is the usual routine corporate legal shenanigans being reported as though the Pope has been subpoenaed to demonstrate whether or not he has a mole on his scrotum before a jury of eleven year old boys?
post #15 of 19
This is the same Real Networks that faked the USB ID even after the standards org responsible for USB and the device ID registry told them to stop doing so as it was a violation of their contract with Real?

That Real Networks?

I hope Apple sues the class litigants and most importantly the legal firm for their legal fee's associated in this glorified fishing expidition
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loptimist View Post

But what Apple is doing is pretty shady too.

Huh? Care to get specific?

Quote:
What Apple is advertising/posing to consumers is the inconvenience they have to go through when they use other Stores

Sounds like sour grapes to me. Amazon has no problem integrating seamlessly with iTunes!

Quote:
or try to switch to different devices.

So if you were a Zune user you would expect Microsoft to help you move to a Rio player?

Seriously? How is your desire to change players any burden whatsoever on a company like Apple to help you with?

Quote:
(e.g. had to purchase again since what they purchased are DRM locked, though not anymore /
have to purchase same apps again if they want to use Android devices, though it is not clearly at Apple's fault).

Well, this is a total non-issue since you have been able to convert DRM encumbered tracks to non-DRM and Apple hasn't sold DRM encumbered tracks for several years now.

And of course you could always just get your music from other digital store that didn't sell DRM music, or rip songs from your CD's.

But hey, lets not let inconvenient and annoying things like facts get in the way of a good straw man!

Quote:
Such inconvenience itself, of course, is not a good reason to call Apple acting anti competitively.

There is no reason to call Apple anti-competitive since they have never been anti-competative.

Their competitors have been un-able to compete because they keep focusing on the wrong group as their customers - the most critical mis-identification of "customer" being the geek led blog-o-sphere and tech press!

Quote:
However, if that inconvenience is keeps increasing by how Apple's behaviors are allowed at this moment, and if that inconvenience becomes one of compelling reasons to choose Apple's product or stick to that of, then I don't see why you can't call Apple anti-competitive and limits its actions.

"Life is hard - waaaahhhh!!"

Stop your whining. Nothing Apple is doing is anti-competitive. If anything they are forcing others to pick up their game. Given a choice between devices that well polished and well-integrated vs. the hodge-podge of thrown together crap that the rest of the industry peddles, I still am amused that so many are mystified by Apple's success. It's such a hard choice - I buy something from Apple that is well integrated and all the parts work together, or I buy something from another company that more resembles a science experiment vs. an appliance or device that let's me accomplish what I want to do.

It's simply amazing....

Quote:
But I have to admit, Apple is so good that it is so difficult to pin-point illegitimate behaviors that Apple do to increase the inconvenience.

The only inconvenience for most people is that Apple has the gall to charge for their stuff. Again, what a bunch of pathetic whining. Talk about a total non-argument
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

This is the same Real Networks that faked the USB ID even after the standards org responsible for USB and the device ID registry told them to stop doing so as it was a violation of their contract with Real?

That Real Networks?

That would be Palm that did that. The case in question dates back to the iPod several years go and has nothing to do with the iPhone.
post #18 of 19
Who does this judge think he is??? Apple is a corporation. Jobs can send legal counsel or anybody he deems best qualified to give testimony, and he can finger his nose at the judge until the judge shows cause to make Jobs appear personally to testify. Judge Bumpkin can subpoena documents all he wants, which is fine. I think the judge simply wants to see Jobs in person and get his autograph.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

That would be Palm that did that. The case in question dates back to the iPod several years go and has nothing to do with the iPhone.

Yup, your right - I got 'em mixed up. No wonder, it started in 2004

Right around the same time they got sued and settled with the MPAA over their DVD copying software...
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