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Apple knowingly deleted competitors’ music from iPods

on December 04, 2014, 10:28am

Apple is currently in the midst of a $350 million anti-trust lawsuit. A group of consumers allege that they were “locked in” to the iTunes “ecosystem” and had little chance to explore other platforms thanks to the company’s “FairPlay,” a DRM technology that only allowed Apple authorized music to be used with Apple devices. The case dates back to 2004, when consumers purchasing songs via RealPlayer found they were unable to sync songs to their iPod, often being directed to restore default settings before finding the RealPlayer music deleted entirely.

As it turns out, Apple may have acted willfully to delete competitors’ music from Apple platforms. According to The Wall Street Journal, this revelation came out during Wednesday’s jury trial deliberations, as prosecutor Patrick Coughlin alleged that Apple deliberately directed the software not to inform users of the restore process and subsequent music deletion. “You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up,” Coughlin told Apple security director Augustin Farruguia during questioning.

Farruguia appeared to acknowledge the removal, but said that the sync process was necessary to prevent iTunes from hackers. “We don’t need to give users too much information,” he explained. “We don’t want to confuse users.”

Apple had long claimed its “squabble” with RealPlayer didn’t violate any anti-trust laws, as Apple’s operations never negatively impacted RealPlayer’s three percent market claim. It’s also worth noting that while the “FairPlay” DRM still applies to eBooks and app sales, its since been removed from music purchases.

The lawsuit continues next week, with testimony from Apple software chief Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller, the company’s head of marketing. If Apple is found guilty of any violations, that $350 million price tag could triple under anti-trust laws.

The lawsuit comes as Apple still deals with the claims of privacy intrusion stemming from its recent partnership with U2, in which copies of the band’s new album were automatically downloaded to the devices of 500 million users.