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Antitrust Suit Filed To Halt Apple 'Music Monopoly'

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the a-bit-too-popular dept.

510

Dotnaught writes with word of an anti-trust lawsuit filed against Apple late last month. Information Week has the story, a suit charging the company with maintaining an illegal monopoly on the digital music market. "The complaint goes beyond software licensing politics and charges Apple with deliberately designing its iPod hardware to be incompatible with WMA. One of the third-party components in iPods, the Portal Player System-On-A-Chip, supports WMA, according to the complaint. 'Apple, however, deliberately designed the iPod's software so that it would only play a single protected digital format, Apple's FairPlay-modified AAC format,' the complaint states. 'Deliberately disabling a desirable feature of a computer product is known as crippling a product, and software that does this is known as crippleware.'"

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Really (-1, Offtopic)

Danny_Freak (1043608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901502)

Crippleware.

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901504)

post

Spluh (1)

Dixie_Flatline (5077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901508)

Another lame lawsuit. :/

Re:Spluh (4, Insightful)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901620)

I'll say it's lame.

I hate propriety formats and limitations but now they want to FORCE companies to build in features or supporting a format - get bent.

Re:Spluh (5, Interesting)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901754)

And kinda funny since the Zune shipped without support for Microsofts own "Play for Sure" music.

Where do these people get this stuff?

Shipping a product without support for a desirable format? WTF? This is the whole reason we have the choice to buy hundreds of other brands of mp3 players that support both wma and ogg and mp3 as well as iTunes. I see no monopoly here.

Wow (4, Insightful)

cbrocious (764766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901514)

These people need to learn the difference between codecs and DRM schemes. WMA support means the hardware can decode it, not decrypt the data. You're going to force Apple to license Microsoft's DRM? That's retarded.

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

Rosyna (80334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901608)

You're going to force Apple to license Microsoft's DRM? That's retarded.


Yup. The solution to Apple being accused of being a monopolist is to have them license DRM from a convicted monopolist. Seems simple enough.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901914)

Yup. The solution to Apple being accused of being a monopolist is to have them license DRM from a convicted monopolist. Seems simple enough.

Not only that but even Microsoft doesn't support its original DRM with the Zune. WMA is 100% closed spec, while AAC+DRM is only closed spec for the DRMed portion, since AAC is an open spec (note open doesn't necessarily mean license free) owned by Dolby and it part of the MPEG4 specification.

This suit sounds like another money grab. The only winners are the lawyers.

Re:Wow (5, Informative)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902020)

The PP5002c used in the first three generations of iPod (and the PP5003 used in the fourth) does indeed decode WMA.

It also has a USB interface. But the first two generations of iPod don't.

The PP5002c can decode video. But no iPods until the fifth generation did so.

The PP5002c also had lots of other logic in it that wasn't used by Apple. I can't possibly see how this is supposed to be an argument that Apple was supposed to support WMA.

Another harassment suit. I hope it gets kicked out of court quickly.

Re:Wow (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901622)

Exactly. So when is Microshaft going to hit them up with the 'Must make Apple machines run Windows' anti-monopoly lawsuit?

I really think these childish pissing matches make the people who launch these lawsuits look very ignorant.

Re:Wow (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902036)

So when is Microshaft going to hit them up with the 'Must make Apple machines run Windows' anti-monopoly lawsuit?


The current Intel based Macs can run Windows.

Re:Wow (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902060)

Apple headed that one off at the pass with Boot Camp. If MS wants to offer a Windows license to Mac purchasers for an OEM-level price, they can do that. Well, they could try selling ordinary ordinary licenses, but who would buy them at that price?

Re:Wow (1)

eclectic4 (665330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901670)

Dumbest, article, ever.

If /. became the place where all frivolous lawsuits are posted as articles, even just the ones against Apple, it wouldn't have time to do anything else.

Re:Wow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901684)

That's like comparing Apples with oranges [google.com] (excuse the pun)

OT: I got a "call it a night cowboy". Not to worry ;-)

Re:Wow (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901694)

Even if it wasn't just MS DRM it is just lame anyways. Apple never represented the Ipod as having the capabilities of anything other then what it does. Crippling a chip to include it in a product for a specific purpose isn't crime is it? I mean is all those computers capable of running linux but cannot because they are sold as appliances or devices like the Tivo or a router breaking some law? I didn't think so either.

I mean it would be different if they made a claim of ti being able to do something then locked it out. Maybe saying the Ipod is the best device ever because it used chipX that can film monkeys talking might be a different story. But this doesn't seem to be the case, they made a product represented it to do some things and it does what they claim.

I think common sense means more then a couple of guys finding pennies on the street and sharing them. This concept doesn't seem to even get that far.

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901810)

Worse than that, "support" for WMA in a portable player chipset doesn't generally mean the hardware can decode it by itself. It means that the hardware has enough memory and enough DSP horsepower to decode it when combined with an appropriate software codec. This is a case of licensing or not licensing the WMA codec, not just the crypto. It would almost certainly have cost Apple money on every iPod to support even the unencrypted WMA. This isn't something you get for free just by using a particular piece of hardware....

I would also hardly call WMA support "highly desirable". Among Microsoft employees who have portable music players, the iPod market share is reportedly 80%. If it were so desirable, don't you think at least Microsoft employees would favor Zunes because they support WMA? I think we can safely establish that at least as far as consumers are concerned, WMA support is not desirable. As far as consumers are concerned, a WMA file, an MP3 file, and an AAC file are all the same thing as an AIFF file. Most consumers just don't care. Expecting a hardware vendor to pay extra money on every unit for a feature that few users care about is silly, and I can't imagine how much crack their lawyers must have been smoking when they took on such a frivolous case.

If they were doing something useful like suing for the right to sell FairPlay songs, that would at least make sense, but suing because Apple didn't pay to license the WMA codec is about the most asinine lawsuit I've ever heard of. This makes the SCO lawsuits seem positively sensible by comparison....

Re:Wow (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901932)

I'll be the plaintiffs are hoping that the judge and jury are even more retarded... you never know. The layman-unintelligible buzzwords and jargon will abound, I'm sure.

Only Micro$oft is a Monopoly (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901518)

Apple is the victim of Micro$oft's monopoly. They are in the right and once again Micro$oft is in the wrong!

Check out the new iButtplug, exclusively from the world's greatest company, Apple.

licence fees (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901524)

If apple had enabled that feature, they would have had to pay licence fees to microsoft. the iPod is expensive enough as it is, why would i want to pay even more for a feature i'm not interested in, and have no intention of ever using?

If i wanted Microsofts DRM, i'd get a zune - and then download all the universal music i can find for free (i would have paid my piracy tax, i may as well receive my proper compensation)

Re:licence fees (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901736)

Who said anything about DRM? I have hundreds if not thousands of songs from my personal collection ripped to wma. I'd consider buying a iPod if it could play them. I have no desire to play DRMed music on any music device, let alone an iPod. I would however enjoy having more format compatibility in the digital music world.... or am I mistaken and we are only to advocate format compatibility when MS is the bad guy?

Re:licence fees (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901746)

Why do I have a feeling that the Zune cannot play iTune's AAC? Should we accuse file suit against them too? Oh, right. Zune is not the dominate music player.

This is /. (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901526)

Microsoft bad
Apple good
Linux great
Fire bad

Re:This is /. (4, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901656)

Microsoft bad
Apple good
Linux great
Fire bad
Microsoft + Fire neat.

Re:This is /. (2, Funny)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901698)

Oh I'm sorry... are you more familiar with Facebook?

Mean people R bad
Backstreet Boys good
Hanna Montana great
Parents bad

Re:This is /. (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901790)

Fire?

Also, there is more to the list:
Google-not evil

Re:This is /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901964)

You will never be forgiven for not including

Beer good

sued (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901534)

if they form this rumored label with jay-z will they get sued by the beatles again? this is what i'm wondering.

Apple's response... (4, Funny)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901536)

Sosumi

Re:Apple's response... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901828)

Sosumi Areti

Boo Fucking Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901542)

The iPod also plays everybody's favorite unprotected format (mp3). That's what consumers want: No DRM.
If consumers wanted a device to play WMA, they would buy them instead of iPods. Make a better product (DRM-free please) or get out of the market.

Karma Whoring and Comment (0, Redundant)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901546)

Antitrust Lawsuit Charges Apple With Monopolizing Online Music
The complaint takes issue with Apple's refusal to support the Windows Media Audio format.

By Thomas Claburn
InformationWeek
January 3, 2008 03:02 PM

An antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple on Dec. 31 charges the company with maintaining an illegal monopoly on the digital music market.
Plaintiff Stacie Somers, represented by attorneys Craig Briskin and Steven Skalet of Mehri & Skalet PLLC, Alreen Haeggquist of Haeggquist Law Group, and Helen Zeldes, alleges that Apple dominates the market for online video, online music, and digital music players and that its dominance constitutes a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The attorneys are seeking to have their lawsuit certified as a class action.

"Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, 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," the complaint states. "Apple's CEO Steve Jobs had himself compared Apple's digital music dominance to Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)'s personal computer operating system dominance, calling Apple's Music Store 'the Microsoft of music stores' in a meeting with financial analysts."

After years of government scrutiny, Microsoft was found to be exercising illegal monopoly power in late 1999. Some of its obligations under the settlement the company reached with the Department of Justice have expired; others remain.

The complaint against Apple claims that the company controls 75% of the online video market, 83% of the online music market, more than 90% of the hard-drive based music player market, and 70% of the Flash-based music player market.

A spokesperson for Apple said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The complaint takes issue with Apple's refusal to support the Windows Media Audio format. "Apple's iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format," it states, noting that America Online, Wal-Mart, Napster, MusicMatch, Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Music, FYE Download Zone, and Virgin Digital all support protected WMA files.

This is based on the proposition that music companies "are generally unwilling to license their music for online sale except in protected formats." Such assertions look increasingly tenuous as unprotected music becomes more widely available through legitimate channels. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN).com, for example, claims to offer "Earth's biggest selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads with more than 2.9 million songs from over 33,000 record labels." Just one week ago, Amazon said that Warner Music Group would make its artists' songs available in the unprotected MP3 format. EMI last year also began offering unprotected music online. And that's to say nothing of Web sites like Amie Street that have been offering unprotected music from independent artists for even longer.

Apple, for its part, might reasonably claim it doesn't want to license WMA from Microsoft, a cost the complaint speculates is unlikely to exceed $800,000, or 3 cents per iPod sold in 2005.

But the complaint goes beyond software licensing politics and charges Apple with deliberately designing its iPod hardware to be incompatible with WMA. One of the third-party components in iPods, the Portal Player System-On-A-Chip, supports WMA, according to the complaint. "Apple, however, deliberately designed the iPod's software so that it would only play a single protected digital format, Apple's FairPlay-modified AAC format," the complaint states. "Deliberately disabling a desirable feature of a computer product is known as 'crippling' a product, and software that does this is known as 'crippleware.' "

Attorneys for the plaintiff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The filing claims that the SigmalTel STMP3550 chip in Apple's iPod Shuffles also supports WMA but that "Apple's crippleware operating system software prevents the iPod Shuffle from playing WMA files."

As for the injury to consumers, the complaint says that Apple's pricing is "monopolistic, excessive, and arbitrary," citing how a wholesale $5.52 price difference between 1-Gbyte ($4.15) and 4-Gbyte ($9.67) NAND flash memory modules results in a $100 retail price difference between 1-Gbyte iPod Nano and a 4-Gbyte Nano.

To buttress its antitrust claims under U.S. law, the complaint points to the fact that European antitrust authorities have taken issue with the way Apple operates its iPod and iTunes Music Store ecosystem.
---

Hmmm...no mention of complainant. I'm guessing Microsoft shill.

Mod Parent Down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901866)

I really don't feel like scrolling past that whole fucking thing to read the rest of the comments.

Really? what about mp3? (1)

ztuni2007 (1005283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901548)

'Apple, however, deliberately designed the iPod's software so that it would only play a single protected digital format, Apple's FairPlay-modified AAC format,'... Also the unprotected, unmodified AAC format, and the mp3 format. It's not like the Zune plays protected AAC files.

Re:Really? what about mp3? (1)

MSFanBoi2 (930319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901704)

But the Zune DOES play AAC files.

The iPod doesn't play ANY WMA files. Personally I find WMA files sound better than MP3 files (your milage may vary), thus I use a Zune. Plus I like to Think Different.

Re:Really? what about mp3? (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901838)

so technically you can say the iPod plays everything but Microsoft licensed formats..

Whats the US coming to when people actually file a lawsuit complaining that a company has a monopoly when they cant play a convicted monopolists licensed format... are people this daft?

Re:Really? what about mp3? (1)

acroyear (5882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901772)

It's not like the Zune plays protected AAC files.

The lawsuit's point is that the iPod, by its numbers is a monopoly device that can thus restrict the sales of competing formats.

The fact that there is the Zune and a thousand other mp3 players that play one or the other format (I've had a NomadIIc that plays WMA files for years) seems irrelevant to them and they, I guess, think they can convince a court or jury that it's irrelevant.

This does, of course, effectively make their lawsuit irrelevant, since no such case could possibly hold up in today's legal climate.

Re:Really? what about mp3? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902044)

The lawsuit's point is that the iPod, by its numbers is a monopoly device that can thus restrict the sales of competing formats.
As evidenced by the number of sites hawking WMA files, i.e. everyone but Apple?

What's next, suing Walmart for not carrying Jimmy Dean Blueberry Pancakes and Sausage On a Stick in every store?

Standard or proprietary (5, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901566)

The suit might have merit if the iPod would not play MP3 files or some other standard format. WMA is not a standard--hell, the "W" stands for "Windows" for crying out loud. Can Microsoft be sued for not supporting "Apple File Protocol" or some other Apple-specific protocol?

Re:Standard or proprietary (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901710)

Can Microsoft be sued for not supporting "Apple File Protocol" or some other Apple-specific protocol?
Well, if Apple is found guilty in this situation, and uses this very case for precedent, it is quite possible, yes.

No. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901982)

Microsoft can be sued for not playing WMA Play for Sure files!
You can only buy music for a Zune from the Zune store. So even Microsoft doesn't support Microsoft's DRMd WMA files!

In other words you can sue anyone for anything.

Re:Standard or proprietary (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901714)

Can Microsoft be sued for not supporting "Apple File Protocol" or some other Apple-specific protocol?

Sure, you can sue them for anything... it doesn't mean you'll win though. In that case there might be some real merit, since MS has been convicted of antitrust actions with regard to their media player and music format.

Re:Standard or proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901874)

The vast majority of non-apple portable audio players (short of those that use CDs/cassets/etc - specified for the slashdot dicks that want to be overly literal even though they get the meaning, all others disregard) support WMA. Short of MP3 there is no format that is more common.

Other related thoughts to the monopoly charges:
But I'll add to that, what are Apple's fees to license iTunes DRM/AAC, and are there any other players that support this format? I've not heard of one, and last I heard they could licence it, but noone does? Why not? It seems like a good marketing move, unless the price is absurdly high or I'm wrong on them being available. That seems just as, if not more, anticompetative than the WMA issues.

Will Apple licence other vendors to let them make their players compatible with electronic iPod peripherials (including 3rd party manufacture as can be found by Belkin or Linksys), short of the obvious "it's only a mini sterio connection, of course it can work'. Obviously non-electronic periphs, such as covers, wouldn't be relative, since they would be based roughly on shape and layout, and Apple probably couldn't stop other companies from producing similar-enough products.

Re:Standard or proprietary (2, Informative)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902010)

But I'll add to that, what are Apple's fees to license iTunes DRM/AAC, and are there any other players that support this format?

Supporting AAC is easy. However, the specific DRM system Apple uses is not licensed to others; rumors abound about why this is, with probably the most sensible explanation being that Apple -- which is theoretically on the hook to the record labels if/when somebody cracks the DRM scheme -- doesn't trust anyone else to implement it.

Hmmmmm.... (1)

varmittang (849469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901568)

Does anyone know if Apple would have to take out a license to play WMA or DRM protected WMA files with the iPod?

Re:Hmmmmm.... (1)

cbrocious (764766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901588)

Protected WMA, yes. They pay for the WMA licensing with portalplayer AFAIK.

Re:Hmmmmm.... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901666)

Does anyone know if Apple would have to take out a license to play WMA or DRM protected WMA files with the iPod?

Yes, it's in TFA. It claims the cost would probably be about $.03 per iPod.

From the article .. (1)

Respawner (607254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901744)

"Apple, for its part, might reasonably claim it doesn't want to license WMA from Microsoft, a cost the complaint speculates is unlikely to exceed $800,000, or 3 cents per iPod sold in 2005."

You can macro these headlines (4, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901574)

$SUCCESSFUL_COMPANY sued for $OVERHYPED_REASON by $MONEY_HUNGRY_LAWYERS for $SOME_SCHLUB_WHO_AGREED_TO_BE_LAWYER'S_MARK

Lather, rinse and repeat.

Re:You can macro these headlines (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901846)

Someone needs to put that on a shirt at Thinkgeek (or you should do so through CafePress). Excellent, true observation. Welcome to America =(

boo-hoo (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901578)

Lets start suing GFX companies, mainframe, and firewall makers who use software to restrict what features are exposed to the end product. This is nothing new to Apple. If Apple advertised support for protected WMA then someone may have a ledge to grab onto, but instead they use the ploy that if a device -can- support something then it must.

I should sue Nintendo to force them to accept playing my home-brew games. They're illegally locking my right to run my own programmed games on their system even though the system has the ability to play it!! Get your torches.

Re:boo-hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901688)

Or better yet, lets sue Sony for not playing HD-DVDs in their PS3!

Re:boo-hoo (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901804)

I should sue Sony for not allowing me to play Xbox games on my Playstation2. I mean c'mon. The hardware supports it - the disks are the same size and all.

Can Apple use WMA without paying more? (2, Insightful)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901580)

If not, then I don't believe the suit has any merit. Even if the cost is 'only' $800,000. I'm guessing Apple still must license WMA playback even if the iPod contains a chip which is capable.
Where's the Ogg Vorbis support? I hear Microsoft specifies that player which can play protected WMA can not play Ogg Vorbis. Where's the lawsuit about that?

they just aren't paying attention, are they? (4, Interesting)

acroyear (5882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901584)

When the market is demanding, and receiving, DRM-free tunes at amazon, iTunes, and a number of smaller label-run sites (Deutsche Grammophon and Naxos, for example), the restrictiveness of one product to not play another's deprecated and irrelevant format is a rather trite thing. As far as I know, there's never been a precedent for "incompatibility" unless there's a contract violation clause to attach it to.

If they really want to solve the incompatibility problem, they should go out and sue HD-DVD and Blu-Ray device makers for not making players that can read both formats. Or how about a video game maker that only makes his games on PS2 and not on XBox or WII? or the other end, how about suing Microsoft for not being able to play Sony PS2 games...

pot meet kettle (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901604)

so Microsoft's players support Quicktime? (of course Microsoft is behind this if you dredge deep enough)

Non-apple platforms are openly HOSTILE to mac users (sorry, this service does not support Safari)

it's apple's do-hickey, they can do what they want.

losers

maybe these lamers should just get real computers that import music in non-WMA format, like a MAC

Re:pot meet kettle (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901980)

Windows media player used to support quicktime.

The support was removed in some service pack (windows 9x time I think) IIRC because apple sued them over it or something.

I must have been in a transporter accident... (5, Insightful)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901612)

...because that's the only way I can explain this mirror universe where DRM proponents are arguing that a product barring them from crippling your ability to do what you want with your music is itself "crippleware".

Scotty, for the love of God, get me out of here.

Plays MP3's just fine (2, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901616)

My iPod plays MP3's just fine. That's the most widely supported format their is. Why do they have to support WMA as well when they already support the most ubiquitous formats like WAV and MP3??

Re:Plays MP3's just fine (3, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901910)

Forget WMA... What about my PlaysForSure songs?! I think my Zune must be broken...

Re:Plays MP3's just fine (1, Funny)

cstdenis (1118589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902008)

IIRC they do not play MP3. iTunes converts files from mp3 to AAC on the fly.

Re:Plays MP3's just fine (3, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902052)

Please don't try to recall anything else, because your memory is clearly very faulty.

Verizon, too? (1)

WoodstockJeff (568111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901644)

I wonder if they've filed against Verizon for all the phone features they disable, like the ability to create your own ring tones?

MS conspiracy theorists take note (1)

Broken Toys (1198853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901646)

"But the complaint goes beyond software licensing politics and charges Apple with deliberately designing its iPod hardware to be incompatible with WMA."

Or, it's OK for MS to have its own proprietary audio format but if Apple does the same thing it's suddenly a problem.

Re:MS conspiracy theorists take note (1)

daveywest (937112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901782)

Yes, because Apple naturally makes easily usable products. MS cuts out the middleman and complicates them from the beginning.

common sense? (1)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901652)

I am a company.

I design a product to my specs.

QED

Now seriously, why should I feel obligated to make my iPod, that I designed and developed, slice bread and change my car's oil? You don't like the features my product has, either choose another or make your own. Just because my product is popular does NOT mean I have to change it to cater to you.

Regards,

WMA (1)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901660)

Windows Media is a proprietary Microsoft format! How can you sue someone for not implementing a competitor's file format?

Re:WMA (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901822)

Well, the thrust of the suit is that they are building Ipods using a third-party decoder chip, which has WMA support already, and then they are actively disabling it. It's not a matter of failing to implement the competitor's file format; the argument is that they are buying off-the-shelf hardware and disabling formats they wish to kill.

Re:WMA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901966)

And it's a shitty format, too.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901662)

The law suit was filed on a computer running a Monopoly OS using an office application suite that was yet another monopoly.

Say what? (1)

tyrantking31 (1115607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901690)

So their argument is that the most popular music player doesn't play the most popular music file type? Then how is it still the most popular music player? Bad law suit. Worse lawyers. Good luck kids.

Rubbish (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901696)

It's no different to most WMA players not supporting DRMed AAC, and only supporting MS's DRMed WMA. Which can be said of many, many low-end Flash players.

Re:Rubbish (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901728)

Windows Media Player doesn't even play UNPROTECTED AAC.

Re:Rubbish (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901796)

It's no different to most WMA players not supporting DRMed AAC, and only supporting MS's DRMed WMA. Which can be said of many, many low-end Flash players.

Yes, actually it is different. Most manufacturers of low-end Flash players don't have enough market share to come close to qualifying as having monopoly influence on the market. Apple has about 70% of the portable, digital music player market, last time I looked, which is right about borderline and if the courts rule they do have monopoly influence, several of Apple's policies would be subject to antitrust law and possibly reparations.

Of course the specific complaint is a bit different since it tries to artificially break the market into flash and hard drive based systems, and lists higher market share than even the most generous estimates I've seen. Also, Microsoft has been more than charged, they've been convicted of abusing their monopoly with regard to the WMA format, and no real action was taken to remedy that situation.

Re:Rubbish (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902064)

As long as the consumer is fully in control of whether to choose the product or its alternatives, there is no monopoly, regardless of how many units are sold. What makes something a monopoly is the lack of "close substitutes". Clearly, that is not the case for the iPod. You may not like the appearance of other players, but there are plenty of them out there, and they are at least reasonably close substitutes. People choose the iPod because either they believe it is the best choice or they think it is hip or they have had bad experiences with other companies' products or... lots of reasons, but the lack of reasonably usable alternatives is not one of them. iPods aren't even the cheapest players out there, so you can't even argue that Apple's volume makes it impossible to compete well....

The fundamental flaw with any argument based solely on number of units sold is that there is no real iPod lock-in. With operating systems, you are pretty much locked in. The cost of buying new software to support another OS is huge, plus there are all the compatibility problems with files, etc. With music, you have a choice. You can choose to buy music from the iTunes Store if you want, knowing full well that you will have to burn to a CD and have a little quality loss if you want to move to a non-Apple player, but you can also choose to buy DRM-free music on CD, from Amazon, or even some selections from the iTunes Store. I could switch to any other player right now if somebody came out with a better one. I'd have to spend a few hours converting my protected AACs to unprotected AACs (burning to a CD and ripping it), but I could do it. The barrier to switching is basically zero, and other alternatives exist. Thus, no monopoly. Simple as that.

Caveat: IANALBIPOOSD.

Single format ? AAC-only ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901716)

iPods can play MP3 too.

Since when (4, Insightful)

Altus (1034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901724)


is playing WMA files considered a desirable feature in a portable music player?

silver lining (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901730)

There is one potentially beneficial aspect to this:

As for the injury to consumers, the complaint says that Apple's pricing is "monopolistic, excessive, and arbitrary," citing how a wholesale $5.52 price difference between 1-Gbyte ($4.15) and 4-Gbyte ($9.67) NAND flash memory modules results in a $100 retail price difference between 1-Gbyte iPod Nano and a 4-Gbyte Nano.
If they could be forced to lower their prices, it would be nice for all of us.

Re:silver lining (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901928)

Or, you know, people could just not buy it if they think the price is too high. A manufacturer should never be forced to lower it's prices because "it would be good for consumers". That's what the market is for.

People Still Pay For Music? (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901732)

Haven't they heard of file sharing? This is a lawsuit where a slower dinosaur is attacking a faster dinosaur. They're still both dinosaurs.

Is crippleware illegal? (1)

Quebec (35169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901742)

If crippleware is illegal there would be many lawsuits to do against all who produce DRMs (Macrovision included) and as well against those who enforced of the "no-skip" flag in DVD players.

That would be very satisfying just to know.

If it is not illegal we should make it illegal, it's a democracy after all!

Re:Is crippleware illegal? (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901906)

Yeah, I have a long, long list of worse offenders than Apple in producing crippleware. It'd be tough to figure out where to start!! Cell phone companies? Microsoft? Cable providers? Apple would be pretty low on my list. Anyone tried to see if this schlub is on the take from MS?

Stupid (1)

ISurfTooMuch (1010305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901756)

I'm all for freedom to play what you want to play, but this lawsuit is the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time. Hello! Apple makes the iPod. If they want to tie it to AAC+, they can do that. But, hey, as long as we're talking lawsuits, then let's sue them because it doesn't support OGG, FLAC, ATRAC, FLV, WMV, and it doesn't have an 8-track player option, just for good measure. By this logic, every software or hardware product out there could be liable if they don't include every single media or file format out there. All a lawsuit troll would need to do is develop some half-baked format that may or may not work, then pounce on any company for not supporting it.

If the plaintiff or the lawyers happen to read this, drop this idiotic suit. You aren't going to win, and you aren't doing the cause of open formats any favors. All you're doing is making yourself and the cause you seem to think you're helping look stupid.

WMA compatible with anything???!!! (1)

jackjeff (955699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901768)

Yeah... but of course it bothers no one that DRMized WMA are incompatible with everything except M$ software and M$ operating system.

At least Apple ported its DRM scheme to Windows. Such cannot be said about M$. Microsoft has a problem with monopoly only when they do not have them.

Google:
- you do not need IE to use the website
- in fact it probably works better with FireFox
- they do software. For linux and mac also!!!.
- sometimes free software.
- ... even for the phone to replace that crap of Winblows mobile!
=>> Balmer: "they are evil" + "this is just for the show. That mobile thing is no where to be seen"
==>>> Google: one month later "see it's there already. took us much lest time than winblowz viztoys !!"

Apple:
- designed an mp3 player with probably a higher fee and slightly less feature than competitors. Did not want to pay royalties for their WMA proprietary format and relied on existing file formats. And put a USABLE GUI to the mp3 player so you don't have to be a geek to play songs!!!
- iTunes. Wow ID TAG encoding. You guyz on PC are no longer required to put everything in the file title and can actually have a small database of all your files (=> trash winamp, wmp of these days etc... ) Oh burning a CD and ripping with the same software. TOO EASY. not geeky enough
- M$ DRM are bad for customers. Ask those who already LOST what they bought with it. Apple answer: screw the majors. Same price for everything. You can burn your music. You're not happy? Go see elsewhere, customers are happy. There's no elsewhere? Then ppl will pirate your stuff.
==> M$. They're not using the standard WMA format
====> APPLE: WMA is not a standard. Does not work on Macs. You want us to use that for iPods???? No way! We have Macs to sell! Port you crap and let's talk after... When i mean port, don't do the same shit as we some of your previous software ports on mac (Windows Video Player for instance.. )

Illegal Monopoly? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901778)

This is a usual trolling by lawyers, what is illegal about Apple's monopoly on iPods and iTunes? I don't have an MP3 player at all, don't listen to music, but even I know that there are hundreds of MP3 players out there and that Apple's music file can be converted to an MP3.

Um, they broke WMA? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901800)

That's not a bug, it's a feature!

OGG! (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901802)

If this is proven, then it should be possible to get OGG in here. In fact, it might actually be better for Apple to support OGG.

Re:OGG! (2, Funny)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901908)

Is ogg on the chip too? If so we have ourselves a case.

Non-issue perhaps? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901832)

OK. Go ahead and enable WMA support on iPods. People can put their crappy 64kbps wmas on their iPods and not notice a difference. But for the rest of us who actually give a crap about the sound quality of the music we listen to, our choices for music on an iPod remain essentially the same... so no difference there. Really is this an issue?

Ridiculous defintion (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901836)

'Deliberately disabling a desirable feature of a computer product is known as crippling a product, and software that does this is known as crippleware.'
I see it there, and I see the wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] is equally overbroad. By that definition, any company that ships anything less than their "Ultimate extreme deluxe enterprise edition" is selling/distributing crippleware. Not everyone needs the full Photoshop CS3 with all the bells and whistles, though I'm sure it's nothing more than some compile settings. Crippleware should in my opinion be reserved for really annoying software that does nothing but nag about buying a different version, or shenanigans like DRM. Delivering several variations of an application to different markets at different prices, that each exist in their own right is not crippleware.

How long until (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901852)

we find out that Microsoft is footing the legal fees for this?

I mean, it's not like they have a history of doing stuff like that (coughcoughSCOcough).

Here's hoping this case is just as successful as SCO's.

Don't like apple, suit still retarded (3, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901856)

I can't see how anyone could seriously think this suit could win.

even though the ipod is a retarded crippled heap of junk and itunes DRM is evil, there's nothing forcing you to buy it, there's plenty of other choices out there.

add to this the fact they are expecting apple to pay a license fee to put WMA on the ipod, and you get the picture of the suit bringers idiocy.

I think this stems from one of these morons who files nucance suits thinking itunes is some kind of defato standard.

A few dates and numbers (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901896)

Apple introduced the iTMS in April 2003 [apple.com]

Over a year later, they had 8-50% of the market, depending on exactly which numbers you look at. [businessweek.com]

So it sounds like they were in the MINORITY when they put protected-AAC support in. Of the many reasons why this suit-of-the-day is probably groundless, I think this is a good one: are they required to worry about anticompetitive practices when they aren't yet a monopoly? Once they become one, are the required to change? I would think not--if the market didn't like the restrictive product they introduced, it wouldn't have become dominant in the first place.

This isn't like MS giving away IE for free AFTER Windows was firmly established as the dominant desktop OS. This is like if MS had given away IE since the Windows 1.0 days. Did any of the MS antitrust suits include complaints that they bundled Notepad? More people probably play Solitaire and the other bundled games than use Notepad--were there ever any antitrust suites re: the games?

Disabling? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21901924)

Implementing wma DRM playback (or wma playback at all) would have been additional work for the iPod designers. Excluding them is not the same as crippling the device. As well as Apple's proprietary DRM scheme, iPods play MP3's which were the most common music file format. Why should they be required to add support for Microsoft's format?

Apple's only real monopoly... (1)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901970)

I want to know what they plan to do about Apple's only real monopoly: movie trailers. God, I hate QuickTime.

So buy a different player (1)

bn0p (656911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21901988)

From TFA "The complaint takes issue with Apple's refusal to support the Windows Media Audio format. "Apple's iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format," it states, noting that America Online, Wal-Mart, Napster, MusicMatch, Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Music, FYE Download Zone, and Virgin Digital all support protected WMA files."

No one is forcing anyone to buy an iPod. There are several other music/video players that play WMA files (if that's what you want). This is equivalent to my suing a car manufacturer because they don't make a car the way *I* want it.

If you don't like how the company's products work, buy something else. If you don't like their music store, buy your music somewhere else. Their market share isn't the factor - they are not the only player in the market.


Never let reality temper imagination

The suit should be dismissed (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902006)

and the plaintiff should be horse-whipped.

"Why do you rob banks, Mr. Sutton?"

"Because that's where the money is."

Yeah, I know Willie didn't actually say that, it seems to apply in this case.

A monopoly is not magically illegal. (4, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902014)

What is illegal is to use that monopoly position to unfairly exclude others from the marketplace.
iPods have been unable to play WMA since when there was only one iPod. The condition precedes any monopoly.
Microsoft is in fact in the marketplace and makes a very brown player that plays WMA just fine.
Stacie is perfectly free to buy one of those.

Next?

Frivolous Lawsuit-o-Rama (1)

kjs3 (601225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21902018)

Yeah...good luck with that...
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