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Apple sued over lack of WMA support

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Friday, January 4, 2008
News Categories: Apple

A new antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple on Dec. 31 claims the company has an illegal monopoly on the digital music market. The plaintiff, Stacie Somers, and her representation claim that Apple is dominating the market for online video and music sales, as well as the digital music player market, and that its position is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. “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. More specifically, the complaint takes issue with Apple’s refusal to support Microsoft’s proprietary Windows Media Audio format. “Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format,” the complaint says, while listing several competing music services that support protected WMA files. This specific complaint is based on the idea that the music labels “are generally unwilling to license their music for online sale except in protected formats,” a statement that seems to lack credibility in light of recent moves into DRM-free sales by industry heavyweights EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group.

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Comments

1

Wait, what?

The complaint is full of facts that totally refute the claim.

Posted by dualsub on January 4, 2008 at 8:28 AM (PDT)

2

Im suing the makers of Monopoly because I cannot play Pop-o-Matic Trouble on it.

They have an illegal monopoly on monopoly.

Another useless person with another useless lawsuit.

Posted by unreal on January 4, 2008 at 8:39 AM (PDT)

3

I’m going to sue Sony for not letting me play Wii games on the PS3.

I’m going to sue makers of DVD players for not letting me play VHS tapes.

Finally, I’m going to sue the car industry for not letting me fuel my car with beer and jelly beans.

Posted by nosedive51 on January 4, 2008 at 8:44 AM (PDT)

4

Even though ipods have the chip to be able to play wma files doesn’t mean that
1. they have the default ability to decode the protected format - I would think that is a software thing.
and
2. they are legally bound to license the format from Microsoft and use their own resources to support it.
If it were *just* the ability to play unprotected wma files, then that would be at least some kind of argument but even then, iTunes offers the ability to convert from unprotected wma files and that’s really not what she wants anyway - she wants the ability to play protected music from other services.  Makes very little sense as a lawsuit.

Posted by Jeremy on January 4, 2008 at 8:49 AM (PDT)

5

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

They would have a better chance of suing for lack of OGG Vorbis support, since that’s at least an open-standards format.

Since WMA is technically a proprietary Microsoft format, it’s ridiculous to suggest that Apple “owes” anybody support for it.

Somebody should have sued Sony years ago for not supporting MP3—that at least would have made some sense (not that I agree with that position, of course).

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on January 4, 2008 at 9:21 AM (PDT)

6

Have you ever know anyone that actually used WMA?  Yeah, neither have I.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on January 4, 2008 at 9:26 AM (PDT)

7

i wonder if it is too late for me to sue Panasonic for lack of beta max support on their vhs players??

Posted by hydra-calm on January 4, 2008 at 10:23 AM (PDT)

8

Weird. We have Microsoft sued for bundling Media Player with it’s OS and then we have someone who wants to sue their way to a decent pension because Apple won’t support a Microsoft format. Hopefully this dopey cow’s case will be on the tv…she can record it, send me the DVD and then I’ll sue her because the NTSC disc won’t work on my PAL DVD player.

Posted by Rob S on January 4, 2008 at 11:41 AM (PDT)

9

I don’t think that this is a really valid argument. If Apple were only to support the AAC file format, then yes, I’d say she has a case.

But since the .wma format needs to be licensed from Microsoft, nobody can force Apple to do business with them. Furthermore, her case would look better if Microsoft was at least trying to open the .wma format open to Mac users, but instead they discontinue Windows Media Player for Mac.

Posted by Andrew on January 4, 2008 at 1:25 PM (PDT)

10

I’m going to sue my lawyer for not thinking about this lawsuit first!

Posted by Bill on January 4, 2008 at 1:50 PM (PDT)

11

Stupid ### lawsuit. It’s format based like blu-ray and HD DVD. There’s no way she can win.

Posted by AZ on January 5, 2008 at 8:37 AM (PDT)

12

I think I’m going to sue her because while listening to my iPod, this lawsuit caused me undue hardship and has significantly affected my ability to listen to my music in AAC format which we all know that we are all actually able to listen to on all devices sold in the world.

Posted by daelin in The Ugliest City in the US (I'm the exception ;) ) on January 5, 2008 at 11:39 AM (PDT)

13

Can we sue Microsoft for not allowing us to install Mac OS X on a PC.  You can install Windows on a Mac.

Posted by Simon on January 5, 2008 at 1:39 PM (PDT)

14

This is Sue Sue wrong!

Posted by sue mee on January 5, 2008 at 6:56 PM (PDT)

15

I would like to sue the goverment for not giving people like this a public beating.

Thanks you

Posted by GaryZero on January 8, 2008 at 7:05 AM (PDT)

16

I was using a windows based computer and used iTunes with WMA files because it was more organized to use Win. Media Player, then backed up my files to an external. Recently purchased a Macbook, NOW i have to purchase a program to convert all my WMA files to ACC. thats bogus…I love apple, but this law suit was very called for.

Posted by SeanyMacHimself on March 2, 2008 at 8:17 PM (PDT)

17

Hey Simon,
You can install any thing you like on a PC including Mac OS or Linux. Problem is Mac will sue you because they are a hardware company and they want you to buy their hardware at a nice markup. There are entire communities build on install Mac OS on other hardware.

I am not sure if it warrents a lawsuite but it would be nice to be able to play wma and wmv files on an iPhone / iPod. would be nice to be able to use a subscription service like Napster. then again if that is what you want then don’t buy an iPod. You do have a choice there are many players out there just as good or better then iPod.

check out the Zune HD.

Posted by i am smart and you are dumb on January 7, 2010 at 11:41 AM (PDT)

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