Feeds

Apple targeted in DRM monopoly suit (again)

'I want WMA on my iPod', squeals Hogmanay bellyacher

Application security programs and practises

Steve Jobs has received a New Year nastygram from a woman who is upset that iPods won't play Microsoft DRM-crippled songs as well as Apple DRM-crippled songs.

Lawyers representing Stacie Somers filed a federal anti-trust complaint in Northern California District Court in San Jose on New Year's eve.

The suit alleges that: "Apple has engaged in tying and monopolising behaviour, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets."

Somers' legal beagles point to Apple's use of PortalPlayer media chips in iPods. They're commodity parts that decode MP3s and WMA files. Apple disables the WMA capability because it does not pay Microsoft's Windows Media licensing fees.

According to the complaint, this means "Apple's crippleware operating system software prevents the iPod Shuffle from playing WMA files".

"Apple's iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format," it continues.

Apple is abusing its huge share of the music player market by supporting only its inhouse Fairplay DRM, they reckon. Somers isn't the first to make the claim by a long chalk.

This time, the claims are predicated on the increasingly outmoded view that rights owners "are generally unwilling to license their music for online sale except in protected formats". Amazon now carries unlocked MP3s from three of the four major labels, along with hundreds of independents.

It's worth highlighting the irony of attacking one alleged monopolists' media lock-in system by complaining that it doesn't support another, convicted monopolists' media lock-in.

Somers' lawyers call on European investigations of iTunes to back up their anti-trust allegations. The links seem weak, however: the EU is investigating how Apple forces consumers to use the iTunes store for their own country, not probing anti-trust concerns.

Norway, meanwhile, has taken a pop at Apple's own Fairplay DRM system, not its lack of WMA support.

El Jobso himself has called for DRM to be dropped across the board by record labels.

For what it's worth, Somers' court filing is here.

Apple told Information Week it doesn't comment on pending litigation. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.