Apple Accused of Deleting Rival Music From iPods

Courtesy of Christina Ascani / Mashable
Courtesy of Christina Ascani / Mashable

In an ongoing court case investigating whether Apple attempted to lock down the music market between 2007 and 2009, lawyers have now accused the company of surreptitiously deleting songs from rival services from some users’ iPods. Jurors will soon hear testimony from the grave, as a video of Steve Jobs filmed shortly before his death will be used in defense.

The class action lawsuit, brought about by a group of individuals and businesses who feel Apple abused a monopoly position, is being heard in a US District Court in California. The case has gone on for over a decade, and Apple could pay out $1 billion in damages.

According to the most recent allegation, users with non-iTunes music received a deliberate error message when attempting to sync their devices. The error forced them to restore their devices to their original factory settings in order to sync up, thereby deleting their music and content.

The company did not deny the move, but stated that it was a legitimate security measure. Apple Security Director Augustin Farrugia told prosecutors that their attempt to block any non-iTunes music was done out of protection to consumers, so that the iPods would be safeguarded against hackers and malicious content. He added that the error message was intended to be vague so as not to “confuse users” with too much information.

Earlier in the case, the court was made aware of an email from late Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs. He sent the email in 2005, upon discovering that a rival company was about to introduce a program that would allow users play music from any source on their iPods. “We may need to change things here,” wrote Jobs.

Lawyers believe these words signaled the start of an internal campaign to keep Apple devices free of non-iTunes content. They assert that the ensuing software updates, which used error messages to block music from rival services, contributed to a closed system that froze competitors out of the market.

Jurors will soon examine testimony from Steve Jobs himself, in a video that was filmed just six months before he died. They will also hear from a Stanford economist, who theorizes that Apple inflated iPod prices by almost $350 million.

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