Feeds

French consumer group sues Apple, Sony

Alleges iTunes-iPod tie-in is anti-competitive

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A French consumer group has initiated legal proceedings against Apple and Sony, claiming their online music sites violate European anti-trust legislation.

We've seen this kind of silliness before. Like California resident Thomas Slattery, who filed a similar complaint against Apple in January, Paris-based UFC-Que Choisir claims that Apple's iTunes Music Store and Sony's Connect service are anti-competitive because they only work with the companies' own music players.

This is, of course, nonsense. In Apple's case songs can be downloaded and played on any Windows PC - a kind of machine the company does not itself produce. Sony Connect songs can similarly be downloaded and played on any PC - it doesn't have to be a Sony Vaio. To be fair, UFC-Que Choisir's complaint focuses on portable players, but since Apple has allowed Motorola to build an ITMS-compatible phone, its argument looks weak.

Apple can also argue that the French government's anti-trust watchdog has already ruled that it has a right to maintain a proprietary link between its music store and the iPod. Last November, the watchdog dismissed an attempt by Virgin's French retail subsidiary, VirginMega, to force Apple to license the Mac maker's FairPlay DRM technology, which would be essential to allow any third-party device to play ITMS-downloaded songs.

The organisation noted that Apple's policy was disadvantageous for consumers, but that VirginMega had not provided convincing evidence that the policy was actually harmful to competition. No wonder: VirginMega sells songs encoded using Windows Media DRM and compression technology which aren't compatible with the iPod and Mac computers.

Most third-party music player makers also seem unwilling to licence the AAC audio format Apple uses, which along with Apple's FairPlay, would be necessary to build ITMS compatibility into their products.

Sony and Apple will have to answer the claim in the French court later this year, Apple in Paris, Sony in Nanterre, French newspaper Les Echos reported this morning.

UFC-Que Choisir wants the two companies to open up their music stores to other device makers and to cough up €30,000 ($38,595) in compensation. ®

Related stories

Sony preps PlayStation 'music download service'
Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit
Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony
UK govt takes iTunes gripe to Europe
France rules Apple's DRM denial not anti-competition
Apple opens Euro iTunes stores

Related review

Apple iPod Shuffle

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.