iTunes Lawsuit: iPod Software is “Crippleware”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has posted a PDF of the complaint in the iTunes/iPod lawsuit. Here are some choice quotes:

“The software Apple has designed for the iPod, which disables the iPod’s inherent ability to play WMA format files, is thus a classic example of crippleware. [emphasis ours] By preventing the iPod from playing WMA or any other protected music format besides FairPlay-modified AAC format, iPod owners’ only option to purchase Online Music is to purchase from Apple’s Music Store. This conduct constitutes an illegal tie in violation of antitrust laws.”

• “Apple deliberately makes digital music purchased at the Music Store inoperable with its competitors Digital Music Players.”

• “Conversely, Apple also makes the iPod unable to play music sold at its rivals’ Online Music stores.”

• “The protected music file format used by most Online Music stores is the WMA format. … There are no technological limitations preventing the iPod from supporting WMA playback.”

• “Apple is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format.”

The following is from Apple’s motion to dismiss (PDF):

• “Without DRM, legal online music stores would not exist. Thus, this complaint does not challenge Apple’s use of some form of DRM. Rather, it attacks Apple’s decision to develop and use its own DRM rather than licensing and using Microsoft’s. As a matter of antitrust law, however, that theory is so unsupportable that plaintiff cannot bring herself to identify Microsoft as the maker of the software that she contends Apple should be forced to use. Enhancing Microsoft’s dominance is obviously not a goal of the antitrust laws. But the central flaw of this complaint is much broader than that. No matter who makes the software, the antitrust laws simply do not require Apple or anyone else to use another company’s technology.”

Is not lack of support for a file format “crippleware”? Read the ruling here (PDF).

Is Apple in violation of the Sherman Act by “tying” iTunes to iPod? The judge responds:

•”To establish that a tying arrangement is per se illegal, a plaintiff must prove (1) a tie between to separate products or services sold in separate markets; (2) sufficient economic power in the tying product market to effect the tied market and; (3) an effect on a substantial volume of commerce in the tied product market.”

Apple’s motion to dismiss was denied. —MEGHANN MARCO

Court documents: iTunes-iPod antitrust lawsuit [Seattle P-I]

Comments

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  1. phrygian says:

    The iPod is no more tied to iTunes than PCs are tied to the Windows OS. There’s plenty of information out there on how to use an iPod without iTunes. If you don’t like the player, don’t buy it. If it’s the downloads you don’t like, don’t buy them.

    • Anonymous says:

      iPod is tied to iTunes, even Apple have admitted this is how they sell more iPod’s. Comparing one crippleware company with another does not make crippleware right. You are being trivial & pedantic. Let’s not even get started on the matter of Aple plagiarising the MP3 format for increased profit. That’s why we have the growing open source revolution and need (not profit) orientated solutions like Linux (Ubuntu), Java, Firefox, Thunderbird, Gimp, Blender 3D, Eclipse, Open Office, DVD burners and Spotify (the iTunes killer)

  2. edgesmash says:

    Phrygian: Sure, you can use an iPod without iTunes just like you can use a PC without Windows. But that’s not a fair analogy. Windows isn’t a content provider like the iTunes Store is. This suit is about the iTunes Store, of which the iTunes program is a subset.

    Apple is leveraging the market position of the iPod to essentially force users to use the iTunes Store instead of other online music providers. This lawsuit is not about tying together the iPod and iTunes (Apple has done a great job of this and should be commended), but about not allowing other companies to penetrate the alliance across markets (iPod as a DAP, iTunes as an online media provider).

    As a side note, as one of the only people on Earth with a DAP other than an iPod, I am frustrated that I can’t sync even my MP3 collection of my CDs from the iTunes software to my Dell Pocket DJ. Although that’s not illegal per se, it’s frigging annoying.

  3. GenXCub says:

    Not a fair comparison Phrygian. PC’s aren’t made by Microsoft. PC’s can use any number of operating systems out of the box, but iPods cannot. Without modification (which will invalidate warranties), iPods (made by apple) are stuck using iTunes (made by apple)

  4. dukerayburn says:

    I use eMusic and transfer the files to my iPod just fine. There’s no DRM, they’re just mp3 files. And even if you do want to buy from another source, DRM is always crackable. Apple knows that better than most, since there’s has been cracked recently.

    This whole thing’s going to come down to sticky wording and stickier legal maneuvering. But if in the end the consumer wins out, then I’m a fan. Microsoft should be paying attention, though, because Zune will be next.

  5. edgesmash says:

    dukerayburn: cracking DRM isn’t relevant to this case, as currently cracking DRM is illegal.

    eMusic stands out because it’s (as far as I know) the only online music provider that distributes MP3s. The problem is DRM-protected content from sources other than the iTunes Store cannot be played on the iPod. Apple knows that the iPod is the best DAP out there, so rather than improve the iPod by allowing competing content providers access to the iPod, they force iPod users to get their DRM content from the iTunes Store.

    You could compare this situation with the situation when Microsoft tried to force Windows users to use Internet Explorer for web browsing. They were using the ubiquity of Windows (an OS) to push IW (a web browser), hence the problem.

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    a big key factor here, which i didn’t read anything specifically about in the complaint, is Does or Would Apple License the AAC Codec To Another Company? If the answer is yes, then it’s the onus of the other company to use it.

    For Example: If Apple were to grant licenses to companies like Creative or even Microsoft to use the AAC codec for protected music, and they chose not to use it, then you can’t accuse Apple of tying the iTMS to iPods because nobody else supports AAC format.

    The complaint does say that no other players support AAC, and that’s true, but is that by apple’s choice or by the other company’s? It’s not specific.

    As far as being able to play WMA format… well there are lots of things the chipsets in the iPods are capable of doing, supporting FM radio for one, High quality recording for another but Apple doesn’t build that functionality into the iPod. That doesn’t make it crippleware, it’s just not a feature Apple wants as part of the device.
    The difference here between say Verizon crippling the bluetooth functionality of their phones is that the same phone in its entirety would have a different feature set under a different carrier. An iPod simply isn’t built to do certain things, and playing WMA files is among those things, regardless of what components are inside of it. It’s like blaming the car manufacturer for using metric sockets in the engine because you want to use SAE sockets and you find out that the threads match but the heads are different.

    I do think that apple has pretty tight reins on the business of selling music online, and it’s probably best left to a judge to decide whether it constitutes monopoly or not but this particular complaint doesn’t seem tight enough to hold up too long.

  7. HawkWolf says:

    ipods can play unprotected mp3 files. that is a completely invalid claim on their part to say it only plays FairPlay-protected AAC files. How can that even be part of a lawsuit?

  8. SecureLocation says:

    I hope Apple gets its ass kicked in court. They are arrogant bastards who make shoddy products. And if iPod/iTunes doesn’t qualify as an anti-trust violation I’ll eat my hard hat.

  9. viriiman says:

    I’m just afraid of the nightmare it could be if Apple has to support other players in iTunes. Part of the reason the iPod and iTunes works so seamlessly is that Apple has control over the whole experience. Having an issue? It’s only one phone call.

    Imagine another player being supported. First, I can see people complaining that there are a limited amount of digital music players supported, and they don’t have one of them.

    The next nightmare I see is support. Is it the digital music player with the issue or the software? Well, Apple can troubleshoot the software, but for the hardware you’re going to have to make a separate call.

    Ultimately, I don’t think that it’s a monopoly or illegal of any sort. No one is forcing users to buy an iPod or to use iTunes. MANY other digital music players exist at this point, and most aren’t iPods. Apple just happens to be the most popular player and method of distribution at this point.

    (note, I use “digital music player” instead of MP3 because the Apple store doesn’t sell MP3′s. AFAIK, the Zune marketplace doesn’t either. They both play MP3′s, but that’s not the format that the music is sold in)

  10. edgesmash says:

    DeeJayQueue: Your analysis makes sense, but I think you’re missing one key point. The iPod is nearly ubiquitous, and Apple is using that fact to push iTunes, a product in a separate market.

    The metric sockets analogy doesn’t hold up for two reasons. 1) A socket cannot be both metric and SAE. 2) It doesn’t take into account market power.

    A better (though still imperfect) analogy: imagine one car company made 90% of all cars. Now imagine their sockets were all metric, but only their company could build metric wrenches. Now if you want one of their cars and you want to fix it yourself, you need to buy their wrench. (This anology doesn’t take into account the idea that DRM-content isn’t necessary for the iPod, but it represents the idea of the market power Apple is utilizing).

  11. MeOhMy says:

    Is it just because they offer iTunes as a separate “service”? Because I’m still not getting it.

    My DirecTV receiver can only receive DirecTV content and won’t work with Dish or any other content provider.
    Sirius only works with Sirius content.
    My TomTom GPS device only works with the maps provided by TomTom.

    Other than market share (which based on the number of people with non-ipod DAPs out there I have serious doubts over whether it approaches being considered a monopoly), how does tying iTunes to iPod differ from any other device that only works with some sort of proprietary data or service offered solely by the manufacturer of the device?

  12. viriiman says:

    @edgesmash: You’re forgetting one thing. No one is forced into iTunes to purchase music. Emusic (as you mentioned), Allofmp3 (legalities aside) are two that come to mind to purchase MP3′s.

    The last option that a user has is… to go out and buy the physical CD. Some people would wonder why? Simple. You can convert that CD into whatever format at whatever quality your heart desires.

    If online distribution was the ONLY way to get music legally, then I could see Apple having a problem. But as long as the option exists to buy a physical media with the music on it, then no one is forced into anything

  13. edgesmash says:

    Troy F.: Maybe I’m wrong, but buying an iPod shouldn’t mean that you have to use iTunes for your content provider. If the iPod was billed as a device which only played iTunes content (like the Sirius radio receivers, TomTom GPS device, or DirecTV receiver, all devices sold with contracts to a service), then it would be legal to only allow iTunes content. But if you buy an FM radio, you can choose which station to listen to because you didn’t sign a contract when you bought the radio.

    The point is that DAPs and online content providers are two distinctly separate markets, whereas satelite radio service and satelite radio receivers are not.

  14. Rapter09 says:

    I’d like to look this over point by point. I’ve also done a brief of the actual legal filings and this just kinda screams ‘poor understanding of technology.’ There are more complications to the issue than it seems that I do not have access to, so some of these comments are to be taken with at least a grain of salt or two.

    So “The Software Apple has designed for the iPod, which disabled the iPod’s inherent ability to play WMA format files is thus a classic example of crippleware.”
    - Incorrect. Why did you emphasize this? The chipset within each iPod model *can* in fact decrypt WMA, perhaps, but that would be 100% illegal according to the DMCA. Apple does not have the authorization to decrypt encrypted WMA-format files. So their primary point on filing this is based on making Apple do something illegal. (unless they pay $800 000 – which quite frankly is Apple’s choice not to do – and I don’t believe a court should have the authority to force them to do that.) More to the point, if Apple doesn’t want to pay for WMA support they don’t have to. Honestly, WMA and AAC are pathetic and MP3 should be the only “one true” format anyways, so I don’t understand why the plaintiffs are in a huff. If you don’t want protected WMA files or protected AAC files you should be petitioning your government to abolish or otherwise suspend the RIAA’s capacity to litigate useless cases against file-sharing consumers.

    “Apple deliberately makes digital music purchased at the Music Store inoperable with its competitors Digital Music Players.”
    - Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first, Apple liscencing the so utterly “popular” WMA format, or other manufacturers getting off their butts and liscencing AAC? Now this is where things get fuzzy because if Apple is REFUSING to license AAC to other companies… that’s one thing. If other companies are not licensing AAC that’s a whole different thing.

    “Conversely, Apple also makes the ipod unable to play music sold at its rivals’ Online Music stores.”
    - See point 1. If “Rival online music stores” started telling the RIAA to get a life and started posting straight MP3s then they would play PERFECTLY with the iPod. And again, Apple can’t break encryption it doesn’t have the rights to break. This is a completely moot point.

    “… There are no technological limitations preventing the iPod from supporting WMA playback.”
    - Certainly not any technical limitations. Certaintly tonnes of legal limitations. Hello RIAA!!

    “Apple is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format.”:
    - What the heck? was this suit filed by Microsoft or something? Let me explain it clearly. In a world with no DRM and a world filled with MP3s the iPod is the best. Not because of any WMA format support, or because AAC is better or worse, but because its a good music player. The DRM is the issue. It’s not Apple’s fault.

    This is a completely bunk case and I’m almost appalled that the judge didn’t throw the plantiffs out on their butts for such a ridiculous attempt at a lawsuit. They do bring up a few valid points, but those points should be thrown at another monopoly: the RIAA and the major music record labels who have been screwing everybody since the start of this whole technological digital music revolution.

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    Well that’s what I was saying in the first part of the comment edgesmash. If your scenario is true it would depend on whether or not apple restricted the ability of other companies to make metric wrenches, or if the other companies simply weren’t interested in making them.

    The point I was making in my analogy was more to the effect of a customer complaining because SAE sockets would fit the threads but they chose to use metric.

  16. edgesmash says:

    viriiman: It is true that iPod users are not forced to use iTunes. Maybe that fact blows my arguments out of the water.

    But the fact that DAPs and online content providers are different markets (unlike satelite radio broadcasts and satelite radio receivers, to use Troy F.’s comment) means that Apple can’t use the market ubiquity of the iPod to force iPod users searching for online content to use iTunes. And yes, users could use eMusic or other services providing MP3s, but you have to consider DRM-protected material as well because iTunes’ content is DRM-protected as well.

    I’d love to continue this debate, but I have to return to work.

  17. tz says:

    Last I checked, Microsoft wasn’t giving away the specifications or information to its DRM away free. Maybe you could get an iPod to play *UNPROTECTED* WMA or WMV (and there are 3rd party players that do Ogg/Vorbis which is what I would want).

    Real (as in realmedia/realplayer) does have a case as they found a way to hack the firmware, but Apple just mutated it and pushed an upgrade.

    But still, the problem is more the Digital Restrictions Management. You have to rip an aiff format CD into MP3 to play it – if there were an easy way to rip the WMAs into MP3s, would they still be complaining, or is the only complaint is about the WMA files you can’t play except on the one (or few) licensed computers and devices because of MSFT’s DRM?

    And you can’t even play the “playsforsure” on a Zune, Or zune DRMed music on anything except a Zune – are they going to sue Microsoft next? Or sue MSFT for not licensing Apple’s technology?

  18. olegna says:

    How many ways do iPods suck, let me count:

    #1.) A two-year battery life, inability to easily replace battery (ie like you can do with digital cameras and flash memory players), purposefully designed that way to encourage consumers to simply re-purchase a new iPod;

    #2.) DRM sucks. All of it. If it can’t play an MP3 simply without a bunch of complicated software adjustments and hacks and third party software, it sucks, period;

    #3.) Relatively complicated software, need to “reformat a spinning disc”. I simply want to plug in MP3s, navigate some folders and hit play. Why do I need all tis software to do that? Why am I carrying around a Hard Drive in the first damn place?? (Oh, wait, I’m not because I never got on the portable hard drive music player bandwagon!)

    #4.) It’s not flash memory. (At least the iPod. And the Shuffle still suffers form Problem No. 1. I’ll stick to rechargable AAA batteries that last two weeks in a flash player, thank you very much.)

    #5.) Let’s see: 10,000 songs in a $300 gadget containing a built in battery with a limited lifespan and a delicate spinning disc, or 1000 songs in a $50 gadget with no software that I can throw against the wall? (And which loads music WAY faster, so it’s easy to change out 1000 songs with another 1000.) Hmmmmmm, that’s a tough one.

    #6.) Although the iTunes Store is not an iPod, I am going to include it: Ever tried to customize the order in which your purchases download? Of course not, because you can’t! (This is something easily done with any bittorrent program, so why the fuck pay for this completely stupid inconvenience. If I accidentally queue up Episodes 2-9 of Lost, but forgot to get episode 1 first, I have to download eight 300-meg files before it will get to the one I want first. Great planning!)

  19. forgeten says:

    funny I can play all the music I buy from emusic.com. Oh yeah they are just mp3s. I don’t understand these types of lawsuits its not like apple said “the ipod will play everything” they tell you what it will play and what it will not. I agree with olegna though , I don’t understand why people would carry around a hard drive when solid state is much more durable.

  20. phrygian says:

    So, perhaps I shoud have said “Dell” instead of “PC”, but the really are very similar. Both pieces of hardware come loaded with software that many people find to be obnoxious and invasive.

    But, really, the root problem is the DRM. While Apple and Microsoft are certainly making money off of their respective DRMs, the real culprits are the major music labels. DRM is *their* solution to their perceived problem of “unlicensed” copies. The iTunes Store (and whatever the Zune Store is called) are able to offer a wide selection of music because the music industry doesn’t want to put its content online without DRM protection. It sucks — what are you going to do about it?

    As for WMA files, Microsoft’s DRM isn’t free. Apple would have to pay licensing fees for it. A cost which would be passed along to the consumer. As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever accessed WMA content, so I doubt I’m missing anything.

  21. zentec says:

    This is an interesting bit of argument. If the complaint is correct, Apple disables the hardware ability of the iPod to play WMA files. I am not sold that this is anti-competitive behavior. Likewise, I’m not convinced that selling music in AAC format is anti-competitive either.

    What I am convinced of however, is that Melanie Tucker is not bankrolling this lawsuit on her own nor did she brainstorm this argument herself. The cynical side of me leans toward this is the brainchild of the music industry trying to pull some of Apple’s power in the distribution of music. Perhaps it’s Microsoft looking for a toe-hold for its Zune, or at least a piece of Apple’s action.

    The crux of the argument that the iPod does not play music from other online stores seems disingenuous because many other online stores, including the ones cited in the lawsuit as supporting WMA, sell their music as a subscription.

    If this does fly and Apple has to open-up WMA as well as allow competing players access to AAC, the only adverse thing for Apple might be defections from iTunes to subscription based services. I don’t think this will assist competing players in getting more than a token share of the iPod market. You can adjudicate with Apple all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a hit with consumers, even with these alleged egregious restrictions and tying contracts. The consumer has spoken; and I think it annoys the music industry and Microsoft to no end.

    On another note, if Apple is found responsible for this behavior, it should send shivers down the spines of the cell phone industry. Here would be case law that is on the books and it would be a simple matter to replace “iPod” with cell phone and you’d have more than ample examples of anti-competitive anti-consumer behavior. Which incidentally, is my reasoning behind thinking that Melanie Tucker and her iPod are not behind this lawsuit. If it really were about the consumer rights, the cell phone companies are a sitting duck, not Apple.

  22. rbf2000 says:

    “The software Apple has designed for the iPod, which disables the iPod’s inherent ability to play WMA format files, is thus a classic example of crippleware.

    Of course it has the inherent ability to play WMA format files, it’s a DAP. However, this format, just like the MP3 format, is not free, and costs money to license.

    By preventing the iPod from playing WMA or any other protected music format besides FairPlay-modified AAC format, iPod owners’ only option to purchase Online Music is to purchase from Apple’s Music Store. This conduct constitutes an illegal tie in violation of antitrust laws.”

    Why is it the problem of Apple that other music download sites decide to use DRM as well? Should Apple be forced to license their proprietary DRM as well? Why not sue those online stores for making their music incompatible with the ipod?

    • “Apple deliberately makes digital music purchased at the Music Store inoperable with its competitors Digital Music Players.”

    There is a difference between intentionally crippling hardware, and not making the investment for a license from a competitor.

    • “Conversely, Apple also makes the iPod unable to play music sold at its rivals’ Online Music stores.”

    Once again, this is not Apple’s problem. Just because they don’t want to pay the license fees for a competing DRM does not make them a monopoly.

    • “The protected music file format used by most Online Music stores is the WMA format. … There are no technological limitations preventing the iPod from supporting WMA playback.”

    No, only legal limitations, like the fact that they would have to pay licensing fees to add that support. Why don’t we just sue the sites that make their music in wma format for using Microsoft’s proprietary format?

    • “Apple is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format.”

    If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
    - Anatole France

  23. DeeJayQueue says:

    the iPod nano IS a flash player. in fact the only ipod in the current lineup that has a hard drive is the ipod video which is the “flagship” model. They don’t recommend it for things like jogging or exercise where it will be jostled around because yes, it has a hard drive in it.

    If you’re going to throw your DAP against the wall or be otherwise abusive to it, then no, the iPod isn’t the right product for you. Neither is an inkpen if you need to erase things.

    Also key to note here is that while Microsoft got in trouble for making IE the ONLY browser that would work in windows (going so far as to completely integrate it into the operating system so that it couldn’t be removed without crippling it) the iPod is not locked into using ONLY AAC files from the music store. The complaint is based on a contingency of a contingency.

  24. yellojkt says:

    You do not NEED iTunes to use an iPod, it’s just easier. Before iTunes for Windows was stable, I used xPlay2 to manage the songs on my PC-formatted iPod. There are tons of third party iPod managers out there. IPod and iTunes are not joined at the hip.

    You don’t have to ever buy anything to use iTunes. You don’t even need iTunes to rip you music. I use Windows Media Player to rip my CD’s because I like the customizable folder and file name options better. I rip to MP3 format and then import to iTunes to load on my iPod. No money changes hands.

    I buy CD’s retail because it is worth it to me to be able to rip to 192kbps or higher rather than whatever sampling rate iTMS uses. Plus I still have a full hard copy back-up of my music for when the computer and/or iPod dies or technology changes.

    This whole thing is bogus and full of red herrings.

  25. Antediluvian says:

    Olegna:
    #6. Are you saying you’re using the iTunes Music Store without an iPod?

    Doesn’t that just sorta blow the lawsuit premise out of the water?

    Granted, it seems from your comment that you’re only using it to view video from within iTunes itself, but from that stance, you could just as easily listen to music on the PC. Hmmmmm…. are any of Apple’s lawyers trolling here?


    #4. And more interestingly, Olegna, is the fact that the iPod Nano is a flash-drive based product. Check it out:
    http://www.apple.com/ipodnano/specs.html

    The only music-playing gizmo you could throw against the wall w/out risking serious damage MIGHT be something without a display. But why take that risk?

    #2: all iPods can play MP3′s without any hacks, cracks, or other tweaks. Are you saying they can’t? ‘Cause that’s just wrong.

    #3. I only use iTunes for copying music from my computer (which I organize manually) to my iPod. It’s not complicated, and I could use something else if I wanted. I haven’t accepted a software or firmware update in a looong while, and have no intention of doing so. I could use WinAmp, or even Windows Explorer (or Finder under MacOS) to do the same thing if I wanted to. I don’t use iTMS.

    #5. I guess I don’t understand your point: are you saying that since you prefer a particular style of MP3 player, the rest all suck, because they don’t match your checklist of needs? Is that like saying Honda Civics suck because they can’t drive off-road? Or 2 bedroom homes suck because they don’t have 4 bedrooms? Or South Dakota sucks because you can’t grow palm trees outside? No, it means they suck for the purpose you need.

    #5 again: Are you saying you can’t afford it so it sucks? And really, is wall-throwing a requirement? If durability for harsh situations is needed, then sure, a regular iPod might not be the correct choice. I don’t think it’s a secret though that they have spinning disks in them and shouldn’t be thrown against walls. Don’t abuse something and then complain it didn’t work properly.

    So, by my count that leaves #1.
    Yes, short battery lives suck. Keep a charger handy. I have one in my car, one for my office, and one at home, because I know that rechargeable batteries don’t last forever, whether or not it’s got an Apple logo on it.

  26. Mr. Gunn says:

    itunes just sucks on a pc, that’s all there is to it. Plenty of people have gotten used to it, but when you get right down to it, that’s mostly because they don’t know any better.

    I’m not comfortable using some third-party hacked firmware that probably violates the hell out of the warranty just so I can manage my files on it like I manage every other usb drive.
    I’m not comfortable installing yet another media playing application that wants to take over my computer and force me to work the way they’ve decided I should work.
    I’m not comfortable carrying around a music player that costs hundreds of dollars.
    I’m not comfortable knowing that I could plug it in to a friend’s computer to charge it up and have my library overwritten by whatever crap they listen to.

    In other words, what elegna already said.

    /was given one as a gift
    //took the damn thing back for a refund.
    //farky fark fark

  27. Sudonum says:

    For those of you who haven’t made it to the PDF of the judges rulling on the Motion to Dismiss…

    Regarding the “Free Will” to purchase an iPod and use an alternative source for your music: Read Page 7 lines 6-9. It’s all about coercion.

    Regarding proposed solutions and their legality (IE Apple licensing it’s DRM): Read Page 11 Lines 1-6.

    There’s also a few choice lines about previous court rullings regading doing business with your competitor in order enforce anit-trust laws. Didn’t make a note as to where.

    You have skim through it and try to spot the good bits without falling asleep while reading the whole thing

  28. viriiman says:

    @edgesmash: The only reason I didn’t consider DRM protected material is that it’s not Apple that’s forcing the DRM on the masses, it’s the RIAA. If it were the case where it was Apple, don’t you think every other site selling digital music would do so without DRM?

  29. olegna says:

    >> #6. Are you saying you’re using the iTunes Music Store without an iPod?

    Yes, I use iTunes to watch television programs I download and watch on iTunes. It’s the ONLY thing I used iTunes for. I’m forced to use iTunes (which is not the best media playe ron the market) because of Apple’s DRM.

    Yes, the Nano is a flash player… with a built in lithium battery that has a shorter product life than the Nano itself.

    Yes, durability is a very important aspect of a gadget you will carry around with you, to the gym, in your car, to the park, etc. Size is important, too.

    Yes, price is important. I actually can afford the iPod — but that doesn’t mean I want a crappy consumer product. I’d rather buy 6 flash-based gadgets for the price of one iPod — or better yet, one flash-card reading player and four or five 1-4 gig flash cards. (Granted, they hold fewer songs, but they so easy, simple and fast to load and download that I can move 1000 songs off and on it fairly easily.

    The only time I need 10,000 songs in my pocket is, well, never, really. I suppose if I pimped out my car stereo I might want those 10,000 songs.

    I can buy a 4 gig card (and a card-reading player that is far more durable than a portable HD) that I can then use in other card-reading gadgets, giving me greater versatility. (I can pull the card out of my card-reading player and plug it into my card-reading camera, or cell phones. That’s a very nice feature.)

    If they made a Nano that took AAAs or AAs (rechargeable) I would cinsder buying it.

    Until then there are hundreds of Flash-based players that are better than the Nano because of the battery thing.

    Anyway, there’s nothing new about the Macfans’ defense of their gadgets. If it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

  30. viriiman says:

    olegna:

    1)A battery is a battery that can only take so many charge/discharge cycles. I can agree that it’s a pain to not have an easy way to replace the battery, but often times manufactures don’t want people tinkering around inside devices. Look at anything that has tamper resistant screws. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamper_resistance#Safety)

    2)DRM is evil, yes. But it’s not Apple’s fault that the music they sell has DRM on it. Blame the RIAA.

    3)iTunes is one of the easiest programs I’ve seen to convert MP3′s and sync them with a portable music player. I’ve had to teach many different people how to make MP3′s, and iTunes is by far the easiest and most well rounded. An “average” home user isn’t going to understand how to click and drag tracks from their hard drive to their portable music player.

    4)Ok, it’s not flash memory. It’s not like this is a secret that Apple was hiding from everyone. Flash memory hasn’t gotten to the point where it’s large enough to be used in the iPod.

    5)Is there a delicate spinning disc? Spinning disc, yes. Delicate? Not so much. An iPod can stand up to normal use. I wouldn’t throw it against the wall like in your example (which if you threw a portable music player at a wall hard enough, any type would break) however I have used one on a day to day basis without any issues. I keep a nice case on it and don’t treat it roughly (like I treat all my other electronics). Again, as for the no software discussion, see #3. And I don’t understand how music would load any quicker on your MP3 player with no software then with an iPod.

    6)Haven’t used the iTunes store to purchase music recently, so I’m not 100% sure about this one. My reccomendation would be to contact Apple and suggest that they change the way downloading is handeled.


    Two questions for you:

    1)When was the last time you updated the firmware for your digital music player? (iTunes will let you know automatically when there’s a newer firmware)

    2)How do you get your music from CD to MP3 (or whatever digital format you choose)? If you purcahaseyour music online, how do you properly format the ID3 info (including album art) w/out software?

  31. Funklord says:

    Wow, a lot of confusion here, both in the article and in the comments. Let’s clear a few things up. The first is the file format (AAC, WMA) is not the same thing as DRM method (FairPlay, PlaysForSure, Zune).

    Apple sells their songs in the AAC format. AAC is an open format and anyone who wants to can license it. It is not owned or controlled by Apple. Microsoft has licensed it and the Zune can play AAC files. Microsoft, and the Plays For Sure stores sell their songs in the WMA format. This is a proprietary format owned by Microsoft. In order to sell a player that plays WMA files, one would have to pay Microsoft a licensing fee (just as one has to pay for the AAC format).

    So no, iPods can’t just automatically play WMA and Apple has turned off the capacity to do so. Apple would have to add this functionality, and pay a licensing fee in order to do so.

    Apple sells their songs through the iTunes store using a proprietary DRM system called FairPlay. So far, they have refused to license this DRM to anyone other than Motorola. The PlaysForSure stores use DRM from Microsoft, which they must license and pay for. Microsoft’s own Zune store uses yet another DRM format, a proprietary one owned by MS and so far not offered for use to anyone else.

    So the issue isn’t a question of Apple letting the iPod play WMA files. It’s a question of whether Apple should be forced to license their DRM (FairPlay) to other companies. There’s no way you’ll get a court to declare that Apple must buy WMA licenses and PlaysForSure and Zune DRM licenses and add them to the iPod.

    Personally, I won’t buy any product with DRM, so it’s all irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. I also think it’s stupid to step in and mess with an unestablished nascent market. I’m also not sure how you can have a monopoly on 3% of the music market.

  32. misskaz says:

    Just because you don’t need 80 gigs on your music player doesn’t mean an 80 gig player sucks. I would go insane witha 4 gig player, because I do not have the energy or inclination to constantly be changing out what music I have on my player. So for me, it is far, far more convenient to just dump my entire music library on the thing and only have to think about it when I buy new music. (Which I typically buy on CD and rip using iTunes to MP3 format with no DRM)

    I listen to my iPod daily on my commute to/from work (public transit), often at the gym and at work, and whenever I go on a road trip using an FM transmitter for my car. My old iPod (a 3rd generation 15 gig player) still works and I never even bought a case for the thing, I threw it in my purse or tote bag daily, and even dropped it a few times. The battery life has decreased but is still quite usable; I use it as a backup player or even just as a portable hard drive for files. My new iPod is the crazy 80 gig video one, and although I bought a case right away, I don’t treat it especially carefully but it still looks and works good as new.

    As Antediluvian pointed out, just because a consumer product is not right for your individual needs doesn’t mean it is crap. Just because I like the iPod doesn’t mean you have to, but I don’t get angry that non-iPod flash players exist and don’t meet my needs; why care about the iPod if no one’s forcing you to use it?

  33. incidentist says:

    I am by no means a fan of DRM. As it becomes more prevalent, it’s going to lead to more and more unnecessary situations like these. But as long as Apple would have to pay to license WMA DRM, I can’t support this lawsuit. When the DOJ busted Microsoft, they didn’t force Microsoft to install Netscape on Windows, nor did Microsoft have to pay a fine to their competitors. It’s one thing to say “Apple has to stop blocking competition” and another to say “Apple has to financially support one specific competitor”. If MS were to go on record saying that they’d license WMA to Apple for free, then these folks would have a case.

  34. LintMan says:

    Grady wrote:
    >I’m not comfortable using some third-party hacked firmware that probably violates
    >the hell out of the warranty just so I can manage my files on it like I manage every
    >other usb drive.

    Huh? What are you talking about? All it took for me to make my iPod work like a USB drive was a settings change in iTunes: check “Enable disk use”. Worked fine. No “third party hacks” involved.


    >I’m not comfortable installing yet another media playing application that wants to
    >take over my computer and force me to work the way they’ve decided I should
    >work.

    I haven’t found it as intrusive as, say, Real Player was. But if you don’t like it, don’t use it and manually copy over your ripped MP3′s.


    >I’m not comfortable carrying around a music player that costs hundreds of dollars.

    A couple points here:
    - You’re probably fairly alone in this. People spend hundreds on cell phones and PDAs and carry them around all the time. Some of those cost double or triple the cost of a good DAP.
    - How is this a rip specifically against iPods? Don’t Zunes and high end Creative Zen players cost similarly? Or are you saying all the expensive big-storage, video-playing DAPs suck? To me it’s a matter of preference: The ability to hold my entire mp3 collection, plus my photo collection, plus some video, on it trumped the smaller form factor, and solid state design of a flash player. For you it doesn’t, but that doesn’t make them suck.
    - Didn’t the iPod Shuffle cost under $100?


    >I’m not comfortable knowing that I could plug it in to a friend’s computer to charge
    >it up and have my library overwritten by whatever crap they listen to.

    Seems a fairly unlikely situation to me, but you can a) check with your friend first if they have auto sync enabled before you plug your iPod into his PC. b) buy a AC-to-USB power plug for $20 and recharge your iPod anywhere with no computer necessary (yes, iPods should come with one of these included).

  35. billhelm says:

    i’m never had a single DRM crippled track on my Ipod and never will. To say that it violates anti-trust laws is kind of absurd.

    i either download from emusic.com (no DRM, can download as many times as you want once you’ve downloaded once) or rip a CD.

    The other thing I can’t stand about the Itunes store is that if you ever lose your hard drive and the tracks you a) can’t easily get them back off your ipod (it’s possible but difficult) and b) can’t download them again off of Itunes. Rediculous.

  36. Ass_Cobra says:

    I think the moral of the story here is that eMusic is the balls. Long live non-drm’d, non-top 40 music.

  37. which disables the iPod’s inherent ability to play WMA format files, is thus a classic example of crippleware.

    Oh, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. Without software the iPod wouldn’t do or play anything. Apple designed it, Apple wrote the software, and there’s nothing that says Apple couldn’t reduce the iPod to a weighty clock if it wanted – but they add more features in every generation.

    How to play WMA content on an iPod:

    1. Copy (unprotected) WMA content to iTunes.
    2. Right-click and select “convert to .mp3″.
    3. Sync iTunes and iPod.
    4. There is no step four.

    Seeing as how you can’t get music onto an iPod without iTunes, I don’t really understand what they’re so upset about. And I agree with the poster above that if this sets precedent, the cell phone companies are all going to be screaming bloody freaking murder.

    As to AAC, it is an open standard. Advanced Audio Codec. Apple’s FairPlay DRM wrapper, however, is NOT an open standard, and isn’t avilable for licensing. Neither, for that matter is OS X. Or Final Cut Pro. Or iPhoto. Or most of Apple’s intellectual property.

    WMA playback benefits Microsoft, Apple competitor. Why hasn’t this suit been thrown out by now?

  38. olegna says:

    >> And I don’t understand how music would load any quicker on your MP3 player with no software then with an iPod.

    Drag and drop to a Flash memory device with no software (or in some cases a simple BIOS program so you can surf folders) loads music faster.

    >> My reccomendation would be to contact Apple and suggest that they change the way downloading is handeled.

    I did. Not only did they say sorry we can’t help you, but they refuse to clear out my MusicStore queue. Another annoying aspect: if you back up all your iTunes TV programs to DVD and remove them form the default folder (for the very logical reason of freeing up space on your HD), iTunes will commence RE-downloading everything you just removed form your folder and IT DOESN’T HAVE a “clear queue” option!!! Huh???


    >> When was the last time you updated the firmware for your digital music player? (iTunes will let you know automatically when there’s a newer firmware)

    Never done it. Some of the flash-based players I have used offered firmware upgrade, but they’re so simple to use I never found a need to do it.

    >>> How do you get your music from CD to MP3 (or whatever digital format you choose)? If you purcahaseyour music online, how do you properly format the ID3 info (including album art) w/out software?

    You can tag any MP3. As far as album art — I don’t really care if my MP3 comes with a little thumbnail pic of the album art. I found Apple’s ballyhooing this new feature in the latest iTunes to be a sign that they’re running out of ideas. (I have one: allow customers to edit their own iTunes Store queues!!!)

    >> but often times manufactures don’t want people tinkering around inside devices

    Oh, please. We’re not talking kitchen appliances here. Apple purposefully designs its casings in a way that makes most customers take their overpriced gadgets to the local Mac Store and overpay on servicing (not just for its iPods, by the way, but also those new iMacs where if you DARE open it yourself for something as simple as a HD switch, you have fucking find and purchase a SPECIAL TOOL just to get to a HD or a RAM chip.)

    >> But it’s not Apple’s fault that the music they sell has DRM on it. Blame the RIAA.

    No, I blame Apple for getting in bed with the RIAA with its new strategy of becoming a content provider. Why? Because their computers only make up like 5% of the market and since they aren’t out-selling in the home computer market they’re cozying up to the RIAA in order diversify their company into shilling for the RIAA.

    >> Is there a delicate spinning disc? Spinning disc, yes. Delicate? Not so much. An iPod can stand up to normal use.

    Two years. That seems to be the lifespan of an iPod, thanks to the handling an dthe battery life. I still have a cheap $35 Chinese 1 giga flash player that I have indeed dropped on numerous occasions on concrete, down stairs, etc. (it was my keychain for a while). Still works. Still holds 600 songs (I’ve since expanded to card-reading players that hold card up to 6 gigas.

    >> An “average” home user isn’t going to understand how to click and drag tracks from their hard drive to their portable music player.

    I don’t know. I’ve NEVER understood IMPORTING tracks into iTunes (or WMP, for that matter) that are already on your HD. I don’t understand why consumers wouldn’t understand finding their MP3s on their HD and dragging and dropping their files onto a flash player.

    My mom has a Mac Mimi (hell, I have an iMac) and when I loaded a bunch of her music form her CDs onto her computer I simply placed the MP3s in the iTunes folder. I left town before I could figure out how to get iTunes to simply recognize the new MP3s in its OWN FOLDER! because I apparently I violated some rule of logic by simply placing the MP3 in the folder instead of asking iTunes to do it. Mom still doesn’t know how to get to those tracks already there in the iTunes folder because she hasn’t been able to figure out how to politely ask iTunes to look at it’s OWN FUCKING FOLDER to RECOGNIZE the existence of several hundred MP3s I placed there. (And keep in mind. My Mom is an older Boomer, but she uses Photoshop and FTPping regularly for her design work. She’s not computer savvy, but she’s probably more computer savvy than the average Boomer and she can’t figure out (or doesn’t understand the concept) how to ask iTunes to scan its own folder to recognize the new tracks I placed there directly. I haven’t bothered to check either — I am waiting to visit again to do it on her computer because I don’t want to try to explain the whole prcess over the phone or by email.)

    Was that my fault? Yes. Apparently I broke iTunes rules by placing MP3s in its folder without asking iTunes to do it for me.

    But, then, I realized something: why the fuck should I have to play by iTunes rules? Why the hell isn’t iTunes automatically recognizing the hundreds of new MP3s placed in its folder without being asked to do it somehow? WHY AM I “IMPORTING” TRACKS INTO ITUNES THAT ARE ALREADY ON MY HARD DRIVE???

    What is so simple about iTunes?

    Ugh. Give me a system folder full of MP3s, WinAmp, and a flash player for me. I’m too simple minded to go through some iTunes indoctrination process. No thanks.

  39. olegna says:

    >> 1. Copy (unprotected) WMA content to iTunes.
    2. Right-click and select “convert to .mp3″.
    3. Sync iTunes and iPod.
    4. There is no step four.

    You forgot step 2.5: wait while your tracks are converted. (Depending on how many, you might be waiting fro a while.)

    You also have to wait while iTUnes imports tracks that already exist on your HD.

    Sych? What’s that? Oh yeah, I forgot: I don’t use software to load my music players.

    You also have to wait while this bulky piece crappy code (aka iTunes) loads when you run it.

    I don’t even download anything that’s not MP3 because I don’t want to spend the time converting these crappy proprietary formats (AAC, WMA, whatever) into a standard format (MP3).

    The only “wait” time I have with my system (WinAmp boots in like two seconds) is when I rip my CDs and when I loads tracks onto my flash memory (with a shorter waiting time than loading the same stuff on an iPod, with no “synching”.)

    Here’s the steps for playing MP3s on a flash player:

    1.) Plug in flash player into USB slot
    2.) Highlight the MP3s you want to load.
    3.) Drag and drop them to the player’s drive.

    Whew! That was hard!

  40. You forgot step 2.5: wait while your tracks are converted. (Depending on how many, you might be waiting fro a while.)

    So, I just did a test. On a g4 iMac and iTunes 7.0.2 (the most current, and seemingly slowest iTunes), it takes all of four seconds to convert a 14 minute-long unprotected WMA file to .mp3.

    And good grief – AAC, as I explained, is not a proprietary format. It’s a format that requires licensing – just like .mp3. Can I help by explaining the difference between open, but licensed technologies, and proprietary technologies? The two are not the same.

    I think somebody just dislikes Apple.

  41. olegna says:

    We all know AAC is not a proprietary !!! But M4a, Apple’s proprietary file format, is what everyone is talking about! Enough with straw man already.

    Multiply all those seconds with every single DRM piece of audio and that adds up. But the point it: converting audio files is unnecessary if you stick to MP3s. As far as your time test, you’re not including the time it takes to start up iTunes, find the file, and queue it.

    As I said before: I use both platforms almost daily and have for the past five years. I have an Apple computer and I have a Windows system. I assume you only use Apple. I also work with field audio recordings and have tons of storage gadgets. I have very specific reasons for why the whole iTunes/iPod thing sucks, and I know because I use both platforms and various media players. I consider myself pretty damn objective, and objectively speaking, iTunes and iPods suck. Trust me, dude. I know you spend a couple of hundred dollars more (on your Apple product) and want to feel like you got something extra from it besides sexy brushed aluminum cases and a shiny, white “2001 Space Odyssey” aesthetic. More power to ya.

    I think this is a dead horse now.

  42. mozart11 says:

    My God people by a different player. That’s choice. Buy a Zune. Use the Microsoft music store.

    It’s like someone buying a Chevy and insisting Chevy install a Ford motor.

    People have many choices. Zune. By a cd and rip it. Sandisk. Sony PSP. Heck even my Magellan GPS now plays MP3.

    This is nuts. Don’t buy an Apple iPod if you don’t like the experience. People want an iPod and to force Apple to make it not work smoothly.

    Buy something else already. Get the hell out of the courts.

  43. Thain says:

    What I want to know is why the glitchy, near-Sony-root-kit level glitches with iTunes have not been included in this suit. Before I discovered Quicktime Alternative (which still doesn’t work well, when it works at all, for embedded quicktime), Apple started forcing iTunes into a bundle with the latest Quicktime upgrades (thankfully, they have since ceased this reprehensible behavior).

    Really, I never once used iTunes, and was, quite frankly, annoyed at the 30 MB of unused bloatware on my hard drive. When I finally decided to get rid of it, the uninstall broke my CD/DVD drive. I’m an old hand at tech troubleshooting, so I reseated the drive…nothing. Once Windows loads after removing iTunes, my drive is completely gone. This is a well-documented problem with the iTunes software, fortunately, so I was able to find the registry keys that needed to be modified and/or deleted, but it is absolutely ridiculous that a bloated, shovel-ware, piece of shit digital music player designed to sync with a product I will most likely never purchase can fuck up the Windows Registry to the point that the CD/DVD drive stops working.

    The average computer user would have no clue that uninstalling iTunes triggered the problem, and could easily spend a few hundred dollars letting a computer technician try to fix it (who also would not know the original cause, since your average computer user wouldn’t thnk to tell the tech what changed), quite possibly ending up with a complete format and reinstall of the OS. Sorry, I don’t bite. I’ll use VLC Player (even Winamp has gotten a little too bloated for my tastes) and, like olegna says, just drag and drop the music I want onto whatever music player I may eventually purchase.