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Apple hit with antitrust lawsuit over iTunes, iPod

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005
News Categories: Apple

A displeased customer of Apple’s iTunes Music Store is suing the company, alleging it broke antitrust laws by allowing songs purchased from the store to only work with the iPod, shutting out competitors. “The suit was filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court in San Jose,” reports Reuters. “One antitrust expert called it a long shot, but Californian Thomas Slattery is hoping for unspecified damages for being ‘forced’ to buy an iPod. The key to such a lawsuit would be convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market, according to Ernest Gellhorn, an antitrust law professor at George Mason University. There is legal precedent for such claims, but courts usually conclude competing products as viable alternatives, Gellhorn said.”

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Comments

1

What a waste of everyone’s time.  I hope Apple quashes this idiot.  The fact of the matter is that if you don’t want to use an iPod, there are a myriad number of other venues and ways for you to purchase music - physical record stores, online stores, other download sales places such as Wal-Mart and so on. 

Posted by aliled on January 5, 2005 at 9:04 PM (PDT)

2

The point is that he had NO choice but to use iTMS. And therefore, he had NO choice but to buy an iPod.

There ARE no other music download services besides iTMS. And if you buy from iTMS, you CANNOT burn to CD for use with non-Apple system.

Oh, wait… never mind… wink

(I wonder what non-iPod player this guy has been losing sleep craving, and deciding that a lawsuit is easier than re-ripping CDs?)

Posted by Nagromme on January 5, 2005 at 9:38 PM (PDT)

3

just some ### trying to get exposure

Posted by BIGP in Texas on January 5, 2005 at 10:02 PM (PDT)

4

Damn, would someone tell my sony MD player in my truck that it shouldn’t be playing the songs i downloaded off of ITMS. Last time i checked my CD burner still burned music just fine off of iTunes for later transfer to any other CD player, for recording to MD, or to the iPod I was ‘forced’ to buy. What’s next a guy buying songs off of napster will sue them because he was locked into using only devices deemed fit by MS.

Posted by BigFil on January 5, 2005 at 10:06 PM (PDT)

5

I hope this guy loses big time, there’s no way he can beat apple in court. It’s almost laughable

Posted by MATRIXsjd in Burbank, Ca on January 6, 2005 at 12:14 AM (PDT)

6

I hope he wins smile and apple will sell mp3’s, that has be ripped in good quality. Then I might consider using iTMS

Posted by Gentleman_finn in Denmark on January 6, 2005 at 1:19 AM (PDT)

7

This suit makes as much sense as the ones Apple has been filing lately.

Posted by stark23x on January 6, 2005 at 1:30 AM (PDT)

8

Revealing trade secrets is a valid grounds for litigation….. provided the person providing the information is an Apple employee.

Suing because the luxury item you bought, with full public information available about what it can and can’t do, doesn’t do exactly what you want is nothing but legal system abuse and the ruin of this country.

Posted by miketex on January 6, 2005 at 4:55 AM (PDT)

9

It’s about time someone tried to stand up to Apple.  They’ve been MSing their way along, all the while getting raves from their ignorant fan base.

Posted by jab1981 on January 6, 2005 at 5:02 AM (PDT)

10

Forced to use the iTunes store?

So what happened, Steve came to his house and threatened him with bodily harm?

What nonsense! Until the U2 boxed set nothing was available at the iTunes store that wasn’t available on a CD.

So this lame luser is making an anti trust claim based on his stupidity - that he was somehow unable to do what even my 72 year old mother can do - rip a CD.

Here is clear proof that we do need legal reform. An idiot like this should be charged for the cost he brings to the legal system.

Posted by david_b on January 6, 2005 at 5:44 AM (PDT)

11

This is not “clear proof that we need legal reform.”  The laws of the United States are already equipped to deal with a suit of this kind.

First, the suit is likely to be dismissed in fairly short order.  The plaintiff has apparently brought an antitrust claim known as “tying.”  Under the DC Circuit’s decision in the US v. Microsoft case, such claims are very hard to sustain, particularly in rapidly developing high-tech industries.  Among other hurdles, the plaintiff would have to establish that iTMS has “market power,” i.e., the power to unilaterally increase prices without losing sales to competitors that have not lost sales. (Yes, I’m an antitrust lawyer.)

But getting back to david_b’s point that “we need legal reform,” the system is set up to deal with this type of situation.  Plaintiff brings frivolous suit.  Defendant files a motion to dismiss.  Court dismisses suit.  End of story.  If the suit is VERY frivolous, the law provides for sanctions against the plaintiff and/or his lawyerrs.  That is, the court can order the plaintiff or his lawyers to pay Apple for the costs of defending the suit.  That probably won’t happen here, because this is a developing area of law.  That is, while this suit is probably frivolous, and will likely be dismissed, it’s hard to say that it’s ENTIRELY without merit. 

In any case, the “legal reforms” that are currently being discussed would not address this sort of suit in any way.  The complaint of the other commenters seems to be that the plaintiff here should not have been allowed to file the suit in the first place.  Any attempt to prevent a plaintiff from even filing a suit will likely run into serious problems under the First Amendment, which says that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So the plaintiff has to be allowed to file the suit, but the courts will very likely dismiss it, without a trial.

Posted by dickius on January 6, 2005 at 6:49 AM (PDT)

12

I wrote “without losing sales to competitors that have not lost sales.”  (second paragraph above)

Of course, I meant to say “without losing sales to competitors that have not increased prices.”

Posted by dickius on January 6, 2005 at 6:51 AM (PDT)

13

One key factor - you don’t need an iPod to listen to Protected AAC files.  iTunes is a free download, so he’s not being forced to buy anything.  (And unless I am mistaken, you can only browse the iTMS in iTunes anyways, meaning that he MUST ahve the proper tools to listen to the music, to buy it in the first place - I could be wrong on this one, though.)

Posted by Geoffrey in Valhalla, NY on January 6, 2005 at 7:15 AM (PDT)

14

just burn it to a cd and re rip it   sure you ose music quality but your getting bad quality if you download in the first place

this person is like that ady who sued macdonolds for her coffee being too hot!

Posted by BionicSniper in Des Moines, Iowa on January 6, 2005 at 7:55 AM (PDT)

15

Now I can fianally move fwd with my lawsuit against Sony for forcing me to buy a Sony digi cam because I bought a memory stick.

Posted by drleen on January 6, 2005 at 8:06 AM (PDT)

16

I’m suing Nintendo because I bought all these games that cannot be played on my PS2.

Posted by starflyer in Madison, WI on January 6, 2005 at 10:14 AM (PDT)

17

Quote: “Any attempt to prevent a plaintiff from even filing a suit will likely run into serious problems under the First Amendment, which says that ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging . . . the right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’”

They’re already ignoring the first part (Compare the clear wording of the 1st with it’s application as having an effect on what the States do), the word “abridging” has no meaning (witness the 2nd Amendment), so it’s not hard to ignore the rest.

What the Constitution says hasn’t had any meaningful effect on the application of law for over 50 years. Unlike the other branches of government, the courts can declare that “black is white” with no check or balance. (Wickard vs. Filburn as a specific, abuse of the Commerce Clause and ignorance of the 2nd and 9th Amendments in general).

The legal system is a self-perpetuating scam, berift of any intellectual honesty.

Posted by Mike S on January 6, 2005 at 10:42 AM (PDT)

18

and?

Posted by dickius on January 6, 2005 at 11:31 AM (PDT)

19

Nagromme, I think MusicMatch is another music download store, so technically the person could have used MusicMatch, but it’s equally frustrating in the fact that MusicMatch downloads are encrypted so they can only be played on Dell Digital DJs (I may be wrong…)

This is a waste of time. The customer should have done more research. There’s no way that he would win.

Posted by greencoffeebean on January 6, 2005 at 1:30 PM (PDT)

20

Simply ridiculous. Suggested penalty for wasting everyone’s time: be forced to walk outside and pay the usual 18.98 at tower, or any other record store per cd.

Posted by podpilot on January 6, 2005 at 7:00 PM (PDT)

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