Feeds

Apple targeted in DRM monopoly suit (again)

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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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.