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Music The Courts Apple

Steve Jobs Questioned In iTunes Monopoly Suit 370

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-seen-this-episode-already dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Twelve years ago Bill Gates had to deal with lawyers questioning him in regards to the Microsoft antitrust case. Now it might be that other tech mogul's turn. Steve Jobs has been ordered to answer questions regarding Apple's iTunes music monopoly. From the article: 'US Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd, based in San Jose, California, ruled on Monday that lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit may question Jobs for a total of two hours. Apple may appeal the decision. A company spokeswoman declined to comment, while attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment.'"
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Steve Jobs Questioned In iTunes Monopoly Suit

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  • Re:Unlike Gates (Score:1, Informative)

    by Master Moose (1243274) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:45PM (#35593018) Homepage

    A combination of history, good marketing, vendor lock in, agressive business practise, a few other sprinklings of fairy dust and mostly a public who know no better.

  • ridiculous (Score:1, Informative)

    by marblesbot (1750136) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:45PM (#35593026)
    I am not a fan of Apple. ITunes is one of the worst pieces of crap I ever made the mistake of using. However, popularity and lack of research done by users of iTunes does not make a monopoly. Apple makes the software that runs on their hardware. Nobody is forced to use iTunes. As much as I dislike Apple, this is ridiculous.
  • Re:Unlike Gates (Score:2, Informative)

    by camcorder (759720) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:47PM (#35593056)
    Because MS abuses its monopolistic status. You can't migrate over other operating system easily, even if you can. There're still too many incompatibilities. For almost every implementation of technology now there's a classification of Unix-based couple of OS and Windows ones (which was actually Unix based at the beginning). MS diverged its operating system too much and never released any reliable specs for considerably long time to cause vendor lock-in. Not any other implementation could ever existed apart from theirs...

    Enough?
  • by krizoitz (1856864) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:05PM (#35593270)
    Ripping from a CD is not illegal in any way shape or form if you own the CD and rip it for your own use. Apple has supported this method for a LONG time. iTunes isn't a monopoly. 1) You can get music off CD's and rip it 2) You can get Mp3's off Amazon 3) You can put music from either source (or any other compatible, i.e. non-DRM'd MP3, AAC, WAV etc.) on your iPod 4) You can put non-DRM'd iTunes music on other devices 5) The only reason music on iTunes was ever/is now DRM'd is because the labels demand it, Steve Jobs has been very vocal about non-DRM'd music being the right choice.
  • by Americano (920576) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:10PM (#35593316)

    The suit stems largely from the Apple / RealNetworks dispute regarding the Harmony service Real tried to offer, allowing people to buy music from Real, and load it on iPods by re-DRM'ing the track as a "FairPlay-compatible" track. Apple made changes that (deliberately or not) stopped Harmony-purchased tracks from working on an iPod.

    I'm not certain that this rises to the level of "antitrust" for several reasons:
    1) They weren't under any obligation to license their FairPlay technology to other vendors, and in fact VirginMega actually got shot down by a court in 2004 for that very reason;
    2) It's possible that turning a blind eye to how easily FairPlay was reverse engineered by Real could have put Apple afoul of its agreements with the record labels;
    3) iPods have *always* allowed (and played) non-DRM'ed MP3/AAC tracks - Real could have sold non-DRM tracks if they wanted to sell for the iPod - eMusic has been doing it for a while now;
    4) Real could have built their own iPod competitor, and had a run at the market that way; Microsoft's Zune and Sansa's various portable models both did this;

    In short, there was enough competition and choice for consumers on the market that Apple's product decision didn't reasonably constitute "monopolistic" behavior.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:23PM (#35593454)

    How many commercial applications can copy songs to an iPod?

    There aren't many, but there are some. Winamp [winamp.com] has been able to since the 5.55 release in March of 2009. It works well, too, I might add.

  • by Americano (920576) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:25PM (#35593484)

    And technically, just having a "large market share" doesn't mean you're subject to penalties, either.

    You have to *abuse* that large market share to unreasonably restrict competition. If you're simply better at what you do than anybody else, and people overwhelmingly choose your product/service, then there's no basis for an antitrust suit. Once you use your dominant position to harm Gateway's or RealNetworks' business, as Microsoft was found to have done.

    Antitrust law is intended to encourage competition by making it painful for the big guys to stomp on the little guys who are competing well; it's not intended to punish someone for succeeding in a *legitimate* competition. It's possible to have a large market share without abusing it, though I'm sure it must be awfully tempting.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:30PM (#35593514)

    That's not how the word "monopoly" works. If iTunes was the only place to buy music, it could be a monopoly. Just because some artists are exclusive to one store does not make that store a monopoly.

  • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Informative)

    by ejtttje (673126) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:33PM (#35593556) Homepage

    Also, while I'm no iTunes expert, I'm pretty sure that you can convert your Apple music to mp3s. My wife does it somehow.

    Only because Apple was able to convince the RIAA to drop the DRM restrictions... Apple was certainly not alone in that, but they did fight the good fight for us in terms of removing DRM on music, even though the associated lock-in was working in their favor to keep people using iTunes/iPod. Unfortunately I see no pressure to do the same with TV/Movies they sell through iTunes, as much as I would like to buy TV a la carte and watch it on my Linux media center. (Hacked AirPlay developments not withstanding)

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@FORTRANgmail.com minus language> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:57PM (#35593774)

    Yes, but there is no DRM on any music on the iTunes Store any more, and it's been that way for some time. Fairplay was never designed to be something that would spread - Apple had it out of necessity, but didn't want it to become a de facto standard.

    Even when they were selling music with Fairplay DRM they included a feature in iTunes to strip it off (burn to audio CD) if you wanted it (although this meant quality loss if you then re-encoded it). The fiarplay converter isn't strictly needed, if you have any old files left over that have DRM - Apple has two methods to remove that DRM, one of which has always been there (burn audio CD), the other offered at the time they swapped to non-DRM files (a $0.20 per-track upgrade to download the new files).

    But since they removed all the DRM, it is no longer an issue - the lawsuit seems to be about Fairplay, which hasn't been in use for some time, for this exact reason. They never wanted DRM in the first place, but had no choice due to the content owners demanding it. They removed it as soon as possible and made it extremely weak and trivial to defeat *within their own program* from the outset, strongly encouraging that you did so when you purchased music back then.

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