Monday, 1 December 2014

Apple faces $350M in damages from iTunes antitrust suit first filed in 2005

Though Apple and record labels abandoned digital rights management protection in iTunes Store music purchases years ago, an antitrust lawsuit on the matter first filed in 2005 is set to go to trial this week.
iTunes TOS

The class-action lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago by Thomas Slattery originally alleged that Apple 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. Apple managed to have some claims struck from the complaint in 2005, but was not successful in having the lawsuit dismissed.

The suit originally centered around RealNetworks, which caused a controversy in July 2004 when it released a workaround allowing songs purchased from its store onto Apple's iPod. The lawsuit took issue with Apple's "refusal to license FairPlay technology to other companies," but those claims were dismissed in December of 2009.

What remains is an allegation that Apple attempted to maintain a monopoly on the portable media player and downloadable music markets by issuing updates to FairPlay, its DRM that locked iTunes purchases to Apple devices.

Of course, since the lawsuit was filed, Apple negotiated a deal with record labels to drop DRM from music purchases in 2009. But the lawsuit carried on, and Jobs himself, months away from death, was compelled to testify in the case in 2011.