Apple not guilty of hurting competition with iPod and iTunes DRM

Apple has been cleared of decade-long allegations it used the locked-in nature of the iTunes and iPod relationship to deliberately harm competition in the digital music market.

A jury decided the company had not acted wrongly by preventing files purchased from stores from other than iTunes being played on the iconic portable music player.

The case centred around an iTunes software update in 2006, which resulted in songs being deleted from an iPod if they were purchased from a competing stores.

The plaintiffs had also alleged that Apple had harmed competition by adding bespoke DRM protection to iTunes Music files, which prevented songs and albums being played on rival devices.

The jury took just four hours to clear Apple of wrongdoing in a case which has been a decade in the making. It backed Apple’s view that the software update had improved the experience for consumers and made the iTunes and iPod ecosystem more secure.

The company could have been liable for damages of up to $350m had it been found guilty, a sum that may have risen to $1bn if it were found to be in breach of anti-trust laws.

Apple had argued that it faced pressure from record labels in order to lock up the music files and claimed to be under constant attacks from hackers seeking to break open the iTunes store. It had also claimed it was under no legal obligation to make the iTunes and iPod platforms compatible with rival stores and devices. Clearly, the jury agreed.

An Apple spokesperson simply said: “We thank the jury for their service and we applaud their verdict.”

Read more: Opinion: iPod classic nostalgia is more than a hipster craze


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