Feeds

French consumer group sues Apple, Sony

Alleges iTunes-iPod tie-in is anti-competitive

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.