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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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  • Are people dumb enough not to be using Amazon for music? Even then what actually ties you to buying music from iTunes? Hell what ties you to using iTunes to get music on your iPod? I'm doing quite well without it on my Linux machine.
    • by ePhil_One (634771) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:47PM (#35593052) Journal
      Only iTunes can place rights restricted music using the native "Fairplay" DRM on the iPod. That is how it is a monopoly. Everybody else has to use unrestricted formats.
      • by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:49PM (#35593066) Homepage Journal

        Only iTunes can place rights restricted music using the native "Fairplay" DRM on the iPod. That is how it is a monopoly. Everybody else has to use unrestricted formats.

        Yeah, wow. That's really stifling competition.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Bobfrankly1 (1043848)

          Only iTunes can place rights restricted music using the native "Fairplay" DRM on the iPod. That is how it is a monopoly. Everybody else has to use unrestricted formats.

          Yeah, wow. That's really stifling competition.

          If you want to purchase music from an artist or label that refuses to sell in an unrestricted format, then the iTunes store is your only avenue, short of (illegally?) ripping the music from a CD. Need an example? Try buying a Beatles MP3 on Amazon. It's all cover bands.

          • 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 chrb (1083577)
              Can a user download DRMed music from a company that isn't Apple and put it on their ipod? I don't even know why people are bothering to argue this point - Apple blatantly does have a monopoly on being able to produce FairPlay compatible files for iPods. The real question is whether the courts will decide that this monopoly, and Apple's behaviour in blocking RealPlayer's FairPlay converter, is enough to invoke antitrust law.
              • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> 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.

              • by peragrin (659227)

                Fairplay hasn't been used in anything but movies for 5 years now.

                let's move into this decade please.

                Also Fairplay wasn't apple's idea but the demands of the music industry who didn't want compatible RM schemes.

                Apple is guilty of lots of things fairplay isn't one of them.

              • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:53PM (#35593742) Journal

                So, I had to really cut down that quote to get it to fit in my sig. Here is the full quote.

                There are those who confidently claim that making a copy of music on your hard drive is an act of space shifting protected by the fair use privilege. I'm sure that some people engage in such space shifting, for example by copying music files from lawfully purchased CDs onto their computer hard drives. But anybody why thinks that that is fair use is going out on a limb... I am not saying that it is frivolous to argue that space shifting is fair use. I am not saying that I would be shocked if some court were to conclude that it is fair use. But I don't happen to believe that it is, and I do happen to believe that anyone who makes such a a copy on a hard drive without the consent of the copyright owner is probably engaging in copyright infringement.

                The citation is David O. Carson (former General Counsel for the US Copyright Office), "Making the Making Available Right Available", 33 Colum. J. L. & Arts. 135, 138.

            • I put illegal? because the record companies assert that it is, many others assert that it isn't, and I haven't seen a case that attempt to prosecute over it. American law is convoluted and easily twisted. Just because you and I believe it is legal doesn't mean we can't be successfully sued for it by corporations with expensive lawyers.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by node 3 (115640)

            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.

            • It does not mean what you think it means.

              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.

              Actually you should have looked up the word monopoly in a dictionary before commenting on it. From Wikipedia

              In economics, a monopoly [removed the phonetic stuff because /. wont render it] exists when a specific individual or an enterprise has sufficient control over a particular product or service to determine significantly the terms on which other individuals shall have access to it

              It does not say 100%, it says "sufficient control". Apple has this in the digital music distribution market as it can, much like MS in the OS market dictate how other people can sell their products.

              Now being a monopoly is not illegal, abusing your monopoly is, Apple's been skirting this for a long time but staying 1 step ahead of an actual investigation unti

          • So a band you care about has an exclusive agreement? BTW there's nothing illegal about ripping your CDs and you can certainly buy those on Amazon. maybe you should boycott The Beatles for signing a digital downloads only agreement with the #1 music store in the world.

          • by EXTomar (78739) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:52PM (#35593726)

            How is Amazon's inability to secure The Beatles proof that iTunes has a monopoly? Hell a year ago iTunes didn't have The Beatles either where I find it hard to believe Apple Records suddenly went "Now that iTunes is a monopoly on the download music market, we will jump in!"

            On the other hand, Apple Records has a history of shrewdly protect their rights on The Beatles and has rejected many deals as along the way where it appears that Apple Computer Inc kept negotiating till they got a deal Apple Records agreed too. Added to this nothing is stopping Amazon from making similar concessions where it is only up to Amazon leaders to decide if The Beatles library is worth suspected cost.

          • So Apple is a monopoly based on the actions of another (the artist) party? That doesn't make sense to me. At that point your beef is with the artist, not Apple. It is not Apple's responsibility to make the music available.
      • Personally I consider that a positive thing rather than a negative thing.
      • Wow that's the best bit of anti-logic I've heard for weeks.
      • by sodul (833177)

        Everybody else has to use unrestricted formats.

        That's good then.

      • That sound you hear is the woosh of ePhil_One's comment going over the heads of most of these respondents. Must we actually use sarcasm tags?
      • by node 3 (115640)

        Only iTunes can place rights restricted music using the native "Fairplay" DRM on the iPod. That is how it is a monopoly. Everybody else has to use unrestricted formats.

        During the time in question, there were multiple DRM restricted music stores. Apple is the sole source of FairPlay DRM, but that's not a monopoly. That's having control over one's own product, which is generally how things are expected to work.

        • by jrumney (197329)
          Leveraging a monopoly in one market (MP3 players) to gain a monopoly in another (online music stores) is a violation of antitrust law. The problem no longer exists, so damages will be limited, but if Real want to continue to pursue this based on the situation 5 years ago, then that is between them and the lawyers on both sides, who will likely be the only winners here.
    • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:54PM (#35593120)
      In your haste to comment, you failed like so many others to READ.

      At issue is a piece of software called Fairplay that allowed only music bought on iTunes to be played on the iPod, according to the complaint.

      One competitor, RealNetworks Inc, responded in 2004 by introducing a new technology that would allow customers to play music downloaded from its site on their iPods. But Apple quickly announced a software upgrade to iTunes that once more blocked music from RealNetworks, the complaint charges.

      Lloyd said the deposition of Jobs would be limited to questions about the back-and-forth with RealNetworks in 2004.

      It's not about buying music from iTunes. It's about Apple killing music from a competing retailer on the iPod.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sockonafish (228678)

        That's just Apple refusing to support a DRM scheme other than their own, especially one that essentially broke Apple's DRM.

        Unencumbered media would still have loaded onto an iPod just fine. If Real weren't so incompetent, they would've pioneered DRM-free music sales, and might have saved themselves from becoming irrelevant.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          At the time non of the major labels would have accepted non-DRM sales. Many of the smaller labels would also have required DRM. The non-DRM movement started only recently. While yes Real could have tried to pioneer non-DRM music, they would have been limited to unknown artists that were just desparate to become known, only to be abandoned by those same artists when they did become known and would start requiring DRM on their music. The time wasn't there yet.

      • In your haste to comment, you failed like so many others to READ.

        You must be new here. If you're looking for commentary based on actually based on TFA, than perhaps slashdot is not for you...
        • In your haste to comment, you failed like so many others to READ. You must be new here. If you're looking for commentary based on actually based on TFA, than perhaps slashdot is not for you...

          Not new, I simply choose not to tolerate willful ignorance when source material is literally one click away.

      • by node 3 (115640) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:42PM (#35593630)

        It's not about buying music from iTunes. It's about Apple killing music from a competing retailer on the iPod.

        This assumes Apple has any obligation whatsoever to support third party DRM'd music stores on their iPod. I see no reason why that should be the case.

    • Perhaps people are not American enough to use Amazon? I'd be happy to give them my Canadian money for music if they would accept it.
    • Please remember when all that was happening Apple was alive and well selling desktop computers, and Linux had a huge share of the server (particularly web server) market and a sliver of the desktop market.

      Yet, MS was still nailed for being a monopoly. Reason is you do not have to have 100% of a market, just the lion's share.

      • 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 fean (212516)

      How many commercial applications can copy songs to an iPod?

      -none-

      Because Apple prevents competition with legal threats. They can't block Linux/Open Source, but they do prevent commercial competition, which is what is illegal. This suit is about the iTunes application, not the music store.

    • 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.

    • Are people dumb enough not to be using Amazon for music?. .Hell what ties you to using iTunes to get music on your iPod? I'm doing quite well without it on my Linux machine.

      Avoiding apple at all costs, my son was gifted a iPod by a family member a few weeks ago. One of the latest 4G devices. Without Jail Breaking the device, there is no way (that I have found) that I can get this to sync to my Ubuntu PC. I have searched forum after forum after forum.

      I tried to purchase an Mp3 from amazon, it wanted me to use their default downloader. Which was not compatible with 64 bit linux

      So while I don't have to use itunes specifically to use the IPod. . Linux is not an option for it at pr

    • I only know one person who buys music from iTunes. Everyone else uses other services, rips their own DVDs, or downloads torrents.

      Apple is far from having a music monopoly.

      But I have always been curious why Apple didn't get sued for getting into the entertainment business. I seem to recall Apple Records of Beatles fame having Apple Computer agree not to get involved in music so that there would be no confusion between the two Apples.

    • by Xest (935314)

      How is Microsoft a monopoly?

      Are people dumb enough not to be using Apple for their OS? Even then what actually ties you to buying an OS from Microsoft? Hell what ties you to using Microsoft to get an OS on your laptop? I'm doing quite well without it on my Apple machine.

      Hopefully this will give you a big hint as to the fact you don't understand that it's marketshare that determines monopoly, not amount of competition. There's always been many many competitors to Windows, yet Microsoft had a monopoly because

  • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:46PM (#35593042)

    Steve Jobs Questioned In iTunes Monopoly Suit

    Steve Jobs has been ordered to answer questions regarding Apple's iTunes music monopoly.

    It wouldn't be a Slashdot headline if it didn't contradict itself in the summary. He is ordered to answer questions. He hasn't been questioned yet.

  • Steve Jobs May Be Questioned In iTunes Monopoly Suit

  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:57PM (#35593170) Journal
    In a movie, a kid asked the question "What makes America great?"

    "Our endless appeals system."

    This was the tobacco lobbyist in Thank You for Smoking.

    The whole apple music thing has always confused me. Why didn't they go with something already existing? This would make sense, but we know Apple is out to make dollars. By whatever means possible of course.
  • The article title reads: "Steve Jobs Questioned In iTunes Monopoly Suit". QUESTIONED??? This hasn't happened yet, so Jobs has not been questionED. Bullshit troll article title.
  • by romanval (556418) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:10PM (#35593306)
    If it's about Fairplay there's one problem: Apple's has removed Fairplay DRM for all iTunes audio for over 3 years now (5 years for EMI music). And there's never been anything that keeps any iPods (any version) from playing standard MP3's that were bought from other sources.
  • People interested in this news item might be interested in this relatively brief overview (considering lawyers' tendency to logorrhea) of antitrust and IP rights bundling put out by the US government. Enjoy! [justice.gov]

  • There are plenty of online music stores with competitive pricing. Only in the fevered imagination of Apple-bashers is this a monopoly.

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