Is iTunes an Illegal Monopoly?

So, Apple’s disclosed a class action lawsuit aimed at declaring its iTunes/iPod combination an illegal monopoly. From the complaint:

    “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 restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has himself compared Apple’s digital music dominance to Microsoft’s personal computer operating system dominance.”

Has Apple done this? Have they placed “unneeded and unjustifiable” restrictions on iTunes music? Have these restrictions kept you from or convinced you not to use iTunes? Let’s hear about it in the comments. The lawsuit seeks to “an injunction that would force Apple to make the iPod compatible with other online music and video purchased elsewhere.” What do you think? —MEGHANN MARCO

Does Apple have a music monopoly issue? [ZDNet]


Edit Your Comment

  1. HawkWolf says:

    This is like complaining because VHS video tapes don’t work in a BetaMax player.

    Or, it’s like complaining that a BluRay disc doesn’t work in an HD-DVD player, to be more topical.

    Or, like complaining that you can’t use Lexmark ink cartridges in your HP printer.

  2. JuliusJefferson says:

    The problem isn’t with the player, as the lawsuit is claiming. The problem is with the online store(s). If they provided unprotected files, there would be no argument about a monopoly.

  3. I think there’s merit, insofar as there is really only one place you can download legal music. This is, of course, not Apple’s fault, but rather the fault of the music industry for their backwards thinking to not compete with them on any recognizable scale.

  4. bluegus32 says:

    But there is competition. Apple doesn’t have a monopoly. It has a 75% share of the marketplace. Anyone could jsut easily go out and buy any other mp3 player and purchase music at the same price from MSN Music or a host of other online music stores. It’s not like people are without choices. People choose iPod plus iTunes because it is a superior product. Personally, I think this lawsuit is full of it.

  5. monkeypox says:

    this doesn’t even make sense. why should it be compatible with music sold by competitors? I can’t play xbox games on my playstation2, but both of them can play dvds… should I sue sony?

    if you’re so concerned with being able to play your music anywhere, BUY THE CD and rip it yourself. it’s an mp3 player, after all.

  6. Sudonum says:

    My problem isn’t that I’m buying music. I am buying a license for my personal use of that music. And if that includes using it on a different MP3 player then I should be able to do that. I am not talking about sharing it with friends or family. I am talking about me using it on various players.
    There are certain songs or artists that are “exclusive” to iTunes (alegedly). If I can’t get that music from any other source. Then is that a monoply?
    Countries from the EU are already passing laws that state that the music from iTunes must be compatible with ALL players. Apple is digesting that fact and if they are either going to comply, or pull out of those markets. For Apple this is not an issue that is going to just go away.

  7. AcilletaM says:

    Not for nothing but you can still have a monopoly despite competition. A monopoly is about your influence and control over the marketplace.

  8. Vinny says:

    Wah wah wah…

    1. Buy your own CD’s and rip ’em.
    2. Buy another player and use one of the myriad of other stores out there.
    3. Buy from iTunes, put the stuff on an iPod and shut up.

    Seriously. If I want Halo, but I only have a PS2, why can’t I sue MS? Same thing. They created a monopoly by only making Halo available for the Xbox, and there are no other outlets.

    No one has a gun to your head telling you to buy an iPod, and there are lots of other choices out there. Buy one of the other ones and quit yer yappin.

  9. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    To me, the problem is the terminology.

    My iPod is an MP3 player. I bought MP3s through iTunes. I also have a Zen MP3 player. Can I play my MP3s on that MP3 player? No? D’oh!

    If iTunes/iPod used a term other tham MP3s, then it wouldn’t seem like a universal file format that should carry over to other MP3 players.

    Like the example of VHS/Betamax. You don’t have VHS tapes that won’t play on some VHS players, because of the type of VHS. They are distinct formats with distinct names.

    It is the customers getting screwed up because they think all MP3s are created equal.

  10. I think what commenters are missing from above is that while customers can choose to buy other types of digital music elsewhere, iTunes requires you to own Apple products to play it back on.

    With VHS or BluRay, multiple manufacturers have playback units. With iTunes, you have no choice.

  11. Chris says:

    Apple doesn’t sell mp3 files. It sells/licenses AAC files. To my knowledge, that’s what its advertising says.

  12. revmatty says:

    They should be suing every store that uses Plays For Sure then. It’s the exact same issue. If it’s not a non-DRM’ed MP3 or something much less likely (ogg, flac) then it’s incompatible with other software and online stores.

  13. MeOhMy says:

    Maybe I’m a little fuzzy on the legal definition of monopoly, but I don’t have ipod and I don’t buy music from iTunes. It’s not like every MP3 player available comes out of the box only able to use songs downloaded from iTunes. Then there might be a case.

  14. squidhat says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. Troy F., you just summed up the man’s point.

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    actually, when you look at the files, they’re .m4p or .m4a files. We’ve been calling all digital audio files mp3s because that’s what they used to all be. Excuse me, I have to get a Kleenex and then go make a Xerox of the rebate form for my Band-Aids. Ok, I’m back. Most people’s complaints about iTunes/iPods regarding monopolies are that you can’t use your iPod with anything other than iTunes, and iTunes doesn’t really play very nicely with other DAPs. Then there’s the whole DRM thing. Nobody likes it but until/unless they find some other way to make money from selling digital audio, it’s not going away. The ideal would be for the entire industry to come up with an encryption standard and then have all digital media stores use the same standard. Yes it will be cracked in no time flat but at least it has the appearance of some security, and then everyone will be on the same page from a format perspective.

  16. I think a lot of people buy ipods BECAUSE of the ease of use of it with itunes and the iTMS. I think when you Choose ipod, you are also choosing itunes and the iTMS as your downloadable music store.

    Like everyone else has said- if you don’t like the iTMS or iTunes, you can get a different player. There are like hundreds of them to choose from. People are pissed because they see no way to stop apples success in the market especially with the Zune tanknig so hard.

  17. misskaz says:

    I have an iPod. I love it. I do not purchase music from iTMS any more, because the DRM problems (like being unable to stream my legally purchased music from the computer in the den to the stereo in the living room via either the TiVo or the Xbox360) were too restrictive to me.

    I still use iTunes to manage the music and podcasts on my iPod, I just don’t purchase songs from their store any more (and have burned and re-ripped CDs of stuff I previously purchased to remove the DRM.)

    I am in the midst of trying to decide if I want to sign up for eMusic, or Rhapsody, or both, or neither. (Yes I know that I can’t play Rhapsody music on my iPod, and that will factor into my decision but does not make me think that Apple has a monopoly.)

  18. I chose not to buy an iPod or deal with iTunes because of it’s inflexibility.

  19. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    iTunes does work with files purchased from other stores, so long as they are in MP3 or AAC format. Also, you are free to synchronize your iPod with any software you choose–there are solutions available for Linux and alternatives for Windows and (I think) Mac OS, as well. Most people, myself included, choose to use iTunes due to its simplicity and capability to keep their music collection organized.

  20. max andrews says:

    No merit.
    Having a proprietary system is a standard business practice. It makes yourproduct exclusive and different. People like that. For example, let’s say you like BMW cars because of their engines. BMW is the only company that makes the BMW engine, and to get the engine you have to buy a whole BMW car. Now imagine that BMW was forced to sell their engines at low prices as stand-alone products, so that people could use them in whatever body they wanted. Well then BMW sells fewer bodies, and their shares drop, and the cut jobs, and instead of producing new cars they focus on the engines now.
    But with apple, the engine in this case is the music, and apple makes just about NO MONEY on the music. Apple is a hardware vendor and all their revenue is through their physical products. OSX and iLife are great but they exist for one reason: to sell macs.

    You can’t charge a company with a monopoly for messing with its OWN products, only with OTHER people’s products. For example, microsoft and netscape. Microsoft basically said you can’t install netscape on any machine with MS windows. THAT’s a monopolistic practice. What apple is saying is, we are selling this ipod player, and a good reason to buy it is that we have all this good stuff that you can’t get anywhere else, but to get it you need that ipod. A bummer for some? Sure. But not illegal. Every other company in the world does the same thing, from cable companies offering more channels to cellphone carriers offering more coverage, to hotel chains offering larger pillow-mints and faster wifi. If you don’t like it, then you get to take your business somewhere else. You don’t see motel-8 guests up in arms that they don’t get the embassy suite’s buffet breakfast. Some things are sold as a package, and it’s not always going to be available to everyone exactly the way they want.

  21. My complaint is:

    “placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice and restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets”

    Right, like that’s not the industry standard across all music distribution channels these days. If screwing customers with DRM makes it an illegal monopoly, can we sue the RIAA, the labels, and, heck, the movie studios for the same thing?

  22. Brian Gee says:

    The root problem is the DRM. Its a nuisance. I made the mistake of buying a few songs off iTMS, but stopped that silly practice after I found out I am unable to play the music on all of my computers, because of an arbitrary limit set by Apple and the Recording Industry. There are workarounds, but those violate the DMCA (more industry bullshit, but I digress).

    Worse yet they can, and do, change the terms of the license after the purchase, so songs I can play today might not play tomorrow. Screw that, I say.

    So its back to CDs and ripping to mp3 for me. Call me old fashioned, but at least I don’t have to break the law to listen to my legally purchased music anymore.

  23. Panhandler says:

    DJQ… are you gonna FedEx that rebate?!?!

  24. There are ways, (somewhat) legal ways even, to play your iTunes music on other devices. All you have to do is burn it to a CD and then re-import the music.

    Yes, this is technically a circumvention of the DRM, but, it’s also one that the record labels and Apple is plainly aware of (else why would they let you do it?). I guarantee you that people sat down and they actually talked about it, and it probably came up during their design that people could easily circumvent it. So why do they let you do it? They reasoned that there was no way to stop a limited degree of circumvention and that the hassle of burning to a CD and reimporting was worth the trade off of DRM [in]security.

  25. HeyGabe says:

    Apple locks you into using their player by REQUIRING you use their defective DRM and then disallowing anyone else to decode their DRM. That’s where your monopoly is. If they allowed others to decode their DRM, I’d have no beef with them– but the fact is, I’m not able to (legally) use Amarok to put iTunes music on my iPod. And that’s just stupid.

    Further, let us consider ridiculous steps that iTunes goes to to obscure your files from you once they’re on your IPOD. Take a look at the hidden ITUNES MUSIC folders sometimes.

    The only reason for obscuring the files the way iTunes does is to lock you into using iTunes as your syncing tool.

    Is it a monopoly? that’s up to a judge. Is it a shitty, anti competitive practice that causes undue suffering to end users, hell yes. Which is why I’ll not be replacing my iPod with an Apple Product in the future.

  26. HeyGabe says:

    It ate my comment. :(

  27. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    In regards to PlaysForSure.. Yes, it’s DRM intended to lock down the content to the device. However, it’s supported by multiple digital audio players, from various manufacturers. And multiple content providers use the PlaysForSure DRM to offer music, videos, and so on.

    I’m sure there are plenty of ipod users that would love to use the Yahoo or Rhapsody or Napster subscription service. And I’m sure there are plenty of Creative or Samsung or iAudio users that would love to buy stuff from the iTunes Music Store as well.

    The problem here is that Apple is doing the same thing with ipods as they did with their Mac operating system. They’re trying to create their own little Apple microcosm, and not opening up to the rest of the world.

  28. Vinny says:

    Apple locks you into using their player by REQUIRING you use their defective DRM

    No they don’t. You can use MP3s, unencrypted AAC, or Apple Lossless (which is unencrypted). Saying you’re required to use DRM is stupid and demonstrably untrue.

    Secondly, if you buy any digital downloads from iTunes or a PFS or the Zune store, you’re getting DRM.

    To recap:

    Avoid DRM by:

    1. Buying digital music from a store that sells MP3.
    2. Buy CD’s.

    It really is that simple. Yes Apple offers DRM. NOTHING requires you to use it. Not a single bloody thing.

    UNLESS you want to buy from the iTunes store, in which case, that’s the price you pay for track by track downloads at $0.99.

  29. krakbuste says:

    HeyGabe has a valid point. The point of the post was to identify and parallel to Windows/ITunes mantra. Use this service or not I-Pod (actually you can but it’s a bit of a hassle). There are other hidden DRM’s that are included in Apple I-Tunes (7 burn limit anyone? Google it) And AAC is not mp3 player friendly, but then again, you COULD get around it.

    If buying from I-Tunes:
    Step 1: Buy it
    Step 2: Burn to Audio CD
    Step 3: Rip to MP3, riff, etc.
    Step 4: Import to I-Tunes

    Burn limit gone.

    Oh and those that say “you loose audio quality”
    if you’re really listening for that, I got two unpostable words for you.

  30. dclounger says:

    I think you are all missing why this lawsuit has merit. iTunes is the dominant (75%+?) electronic music delivery service/product. iPods are the dominant elctronic music player (80%+?). iTunes music only plays on iPods. Apple owns/controls both. As such, Apple could continue to gain market share, putting music delivery competitors (which could eventually include brick & mortar CD stores) out of business through either undercutting on price (subsidized by iPod sales!), or striking exclusive music distribution deals (already happening!). Once a sufficient number of competitors go out of business, Apple can then jack up the price, with the consumer left to do nothing but pay the higher fees (and with competitors left without a way to compete due to exclusive deals, etc.)

    How do we prevent this? We follow antitrust laws which prevent companies from using market dominance in one area to dominate other areas. Now, I don’t know if Apple is actually using iTunes dominance to hurt competition in the music player field, but you have three choices: (1) Stick your head in the sand and say they aren’t—and, you know, maybe they aren’t; (2) Wait until it becomes overwhelmingly apparent that Apple has violated the law and crushed competition, at which case we’re pretty much stuck with Apple dominance (he says as he types this into Microsoft’s Internet explorer on a machine running Microfot’s operating system); or (3) we tolerate a lawsuit or a governmental investigation that makes sure everything is on the uppity up.

  31. viriiman says:

    You could also argue that since Apple has a majority of the market, and the hot MP3 player is the iPod, they have a huge bargaining chip over the RIAA.

    If they RIAA goes to Microsoft and tells them that they have to increase prices by 10%, there’s a good chance that they will. Why? They don’t have the market presence (with Plays for sure OR Zune). When the RIAA goes to Apple and tells them to increase prices, Apple can tell them to go screw. Why? They have a majority of the market. Apple can stand up to the bully that is the RIAA.

    What other digital means would the RIAA have to peddle their crap?

    My opinion is to let Apple do what their doing. The alternative is going to push people back to piracy.

  32. dclounger says:

    Also, does anyone else find it funny that Microsoft’s investment in Apple (back in 1997 when Apple was against the wall) went a long way in lessening the Microsoft antitrust impact (a legitimate competitor exists!), and now Microsoft’s Zune player may help Apple lessen any antitrust impact (a legitimate competitor exists!).

  33. d0x says:

    Alot of you are missing the point. The issue with Apple is that songs BOUGHT in the itunes MUSIC STORE only play on an ipod.

    Competitors want Apple to allow itunes songs to play on their players. They want to license Fairplay DRM but Apple refuses.

    I wouldnt mind having a little choice, just because I prefer the itunes music store doesnt mean i should be forced into using an ipod for on the go music.

  34. “The root problem is the DRM. “

    I agree. There are interesting discussions to be had about monopolies and content vs. distribution and proprietary systems and so forth, but the root problem here is that the law inadequately addresses digital data property rights and US copyright law is woefully backwards when it comes to modern media.

  35. john_nyc says:

    This is ludicrous.

    Nobody’s forcing anyone to buy an iPod and no one is forcing everyone that buys an iPod to buy music from iTunes.

    The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player and it’s not the only one now. Why was it so wildly successful? I think because it’s easy to operate, easy to load songs onto, and is tied to a mechanism that makes it easy to purchase song downloads.

    The fact that iTunes Store utilizes what is for all practical purposes a successful DRM system is what allows it to have the US music industry buy-in that it’s had and therefore have product to sell.

    The RIAA can cry into it’s beer all it wants that iTunes sales are undercutting cd sales. Well, they should be happy that they’re getting the licensing business at all, with the crap they’re foisting on us these days. I mean, come on… what does it say about the state of the industry when some of the top acts are the result of televised karoke?

    At least this way they get to make money on moving licensing fees for a vast back catalog. How many years has it been since we all had to replace our vinyl collections with CD’s? DVD-Audio wasn’t exactly a resounding success that forced us to do it all over again.

    I personally don’t buy music from iTunes because I can’t stand low bitrate compressed audio, not because of a philosophical hatred of DRM. If they offered 256kVBR or lossless files, I’d definitely make purchases.

    Instead of wasting their time with this lawsuit, maybe the party who’s bringing it should instead come up with a better system than Apple’s and then do a better job in marketing it. Isn’t that how a free market economy is supposed to work?

  36. Some posters have mentioned by analogy to proprietary formats, like Xbox vs. Playstation or Beta vs. VHS, etc as an argument that iTunes DRM is normal or even expected. Perhaps proprietary formats are good for the company producing them, but I think everyone will agree that it is highly unfriendly to the consumer.

    It’s strange that a country like China is the first to rid themselves of proprietary formats by requiring cell phone companies to use USB as a standard, while in the US, cell phone users are mired in a world of cables that vary not only brand to brand, but phone to phone.

    For a supposed free market economy, we have perhaps the worst record for being “free.” A record not improved by our draconian and backwards IP laws.

    Oh, and the sharding of the video game industry helped no one. Prices did not decrease, quality did not improve, etc. The end result was actually worse for the consumer. Just like the end result of DRM laden music files that will only play on an ipod when purchased from the iTunes store.

    I don’t know if Apple has a legal monopoly or not, but I think it’s the measures they take to prevent you from using music that you paid for are certainly ridiculous.

  37. I think what commenters are missing from above is that while customers can choose to buy other types of digital music elsewhere, iTunes requires you to own Apple products to play it back on.


    Apple provides a legal way for you, as a license holder of a song, to convert it for use on any digital music player.

    It’s called the “Burn” button. As in: burn a CD.

    This lawsuit has little merit – and if it does go forward, Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace will be shut down for the exact same (il)logical reason.

  38. rbf2000 says:

    A monopoly is basically defined as a company that has control over the market so that they can restrict output and increase prices, which is the reverse of what competition would create. However, in a free market monopolies are extremely rare, and I would go so far as to say that the only actual monopolies are endorsed by the government, and only exist as monopolies because there are laws in place that protect them.

    There is an aluminum company called ALCOA. For all intents and purposes they are the only aluminum producer in the country. Since this is the case, you would expect them to restrict their output and charge more for aluminum.

    The exact opposite, however, was true. They increased output and lowered their prices, as if there was another aluminum company with which they were competing.

    It turns out that it was not another aluminum company that they were competing with, but plastic companies. They had to lower the price on aluminum to stay competitive to plastics, which could be used as a substitute for aluminum.

    The point I am making is that there are tons of alternatives to using the iTunes music store, and just because the music they sell has proprietary DRM on it certainly does not make it a monopoly. People can easily use another online music download store.

    Apple should certainly not be punished for trying to protect their interests by having that DRM on there.

    Will I buy iTunes music? never. But I still buy music, because iTunes is not a monopoly, and I have other choices.

  39. Is it a shitty, anti competitive practice that causes undue suffering to end users, hell yes. Which is why I’ll not be replacing my iPod with an Apple Product in the future.

    Oh, give me a break. Apple didn’t invent DRM, and I doubt DRM would be nearly as restrictive if it wasn’t for the whiny little suits in the record industry.

    Apple, as far as I’ve been able to tell, has fought for and gotten concessions for less restrictive DRM. The number of computers you can authorize music for has grown (once 3, now 5), and Apple provides a way for you to use your DRM’d music on any CD-audio device.

  40. rbf2000 says:

    To be honest, I think people should be looking at the cartel that is the RIAA ( A cartel is a group of formally independent producers whose goal is to increase their collective profits by means of price fixing, limiting supply, or other restrictive practices.) Cartels are illegal.

    Sound familiar? Didn’t the RIAA try to pressure ITMS into changing the pricing structure for the music they sell?

    I would support a lawsuit against the RIAA. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the RIAA broken up, or at least sue them for massive amounts of money in a class action suit for colluding on music prices.

  41. misskaz says:

    jcase757 gets to the meat of the issue. Bravo!

    RIAA are the bad guys here, Apple is not (and I say that as someone that does not use the iTunes store because of the DRM but does use an iPod.)

  42. ValkRaider says:

    Many people seem really confused.

    1. an iPod can play ANY songs that are in these formats: MP3, AAC, or AppleLossless. ( There are also “hacks” you can do which can enable a couple other formats on the iPod, like FLAC or Ogg. Of course they will void your iPod warranty )

    2. an iPod can NOT play songs from *other* online services that are encrypted or have DRM.

    3. Other players can NOT play songs from the iTunes MUSIC STORE because they are encrypted with DRM.

    4. iTunes is a media player, works on Mac and Windows. iTunes Music Store (iTMS) is an online music retail store. They are not the same thing, however you have to use iTunes the media player to buy from the iTunes Music Store. However, you can play all sorts of media in iTunes as long as it is in standard formats and NOT encrypted by another source.

    5. I have over 10,000 songs from _other sources_ that work in my iTunes and iPod. Most from ripping CDs, some from band websites, and a couple from other stores (most of which are out of business now). They all play fine in my iTunes on my Mac and in my iPod. I have 30 songs from the iTunes music store. They will only play in iTunes on up to 5 computers, or on my iPod.

    So again: an iPod does not require iTunes the application or music from the iTunes Music Store. The iTunes application does not require an iPod or the iTunes Music Store.

    The ONLY THING that Apple “locks” is the songs that you purchase FROM the iTUNES MUSIC STORE. And the ONLY reason they do that is because the RIAA made them. This is Only the songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

    You can use other players with iTunes the application. You can use other applications with the iPod. You can even use an iPod with Linux. There is nothing restricting how you use your iPod.

    There is no monopoly.

    Oh, and I can’t play games I bought online via the Wii game store channel with my Laptop. Should I sue Nintendo? No. The games are made for my Wii.

    If you want music that you can play anywhere – just buy the CD.

  43. d0x says:

    Still missing the point here people..

    The problem is the DRM, there is no reason at all for Apple not licensing FairPlay for other MP3 makers to use. Not every company has a music store of their own.

    Whats wrong with a creative player being able to play songs you bought from itunes? NOTHING except for the fact that apple says no so they can keep a lock on the market and they damn well know it.

  44. HeyGabe says:

    Those of you who say that you can use programs other than Itunes to Sync your iPod must have not made an effort to use programs other than iTunes to Sync your iPod. Amarok is the best of the bunch, and even it leaves a LOT to be desired.

    So, Yeah. You can use other programs to sync your iPod. But be prepared for that not to go so well for you.

  45. weave says:

    dox, can I play songs purchased from zune store on a creative zen player? Or an ipod? Or any other player besides zune?

    Answer is no of course.

  46. Terrelowens says:

    Wow, the vitriol on this board is thick and juicy………….

    Several good points have been made here and I’ll not waste time rehashing other than to say this.

    I was using iTunes to organize my music BEFORE I owned an iPod because, in my opinion, it was better set up than the Windows Media Player.

    The fact is, the RIAA tried to increase the cost of downloaded music and Apple SHUT THEM DOWN.

    So, if that is how a monopoly works…..then SIGN ME UP.

    Oh, and a monopoly is not illegal. There are several monopolies that we deal with on a daily basis, locally and nationally. It is the BEHAVIOR that SOME monopolies exhibit that is illegal.

    Good day.

    I said GOOD DAY SIR.

  47. Judge373 says:

    Yea, the DRM is a pain, but how else was Apple going to be able to get the music companies to agree to selling their music online? There was no way that the music industry was going to start selling non-“protected” music, so basically, that puts Apple in a difficult position – either have protected downloads, or no iTunes Store at all. However, the fact that they only play on iPods is something entirely different, and for what it’s worth, I think that Apple should allow playback on other devices.

  48. Vinny says:

    The problem is the DRM, there is no reason at all for Apple not licensing FairPlay for other MP3 makers to use.

    Give me one practical reason why diluting Apple’s market would be good for Apple.


  49. Papa K says:

    Find me a website that has a better selection then iTMS. I mean, other then AllofMP3 since they’re the Russian devil and aren’t to be trusted because they sell DRM-free mp3s that work with any mp3 player.

    I know because the RIAA told me so.

  50. airshowfan says:

    I hate to start a comment this way, but: I think a lot of you are missing the point. Or at least half the point. I think ValkRaider’s point #2 is the most important one to this lawsuit, but few people noticed it.

    The problem here is not just that the iTunes store sells DRM’ed music that does not play on other players. As annoying as this is (I hate DRM as much as anyone does), it can be easily circumvented by burning and ripping CDs (or even more easily and losslessly with programs like QTFairUse and MyFairTunes).

    The other half of the problem (according to the lawsuit) is that iPods are needlessly incompatible with music from non-iTunes music stores.

    Therefore, it could be said that Apple is using its dominance in the music-player market to promote its music-selling services.

    The iTunes store makes money because the iPod is so popular. Not vice versa. People don’t buy iPods because they’re the only way to portably play music from iTunes. They buy music from iTunes because it’s the only way to legally download music for their iPods. Well, most people.

    Apple makes a lot of money from iPods, but not much money from iTunes. (For each iPod sold, Apple sells on average about 20 songs from the iTunes store). If they made iTunes music playable on other devices, they might gain a little money from iTunes sales, but they would probably lose more money from any decrease in iPod sales. So it’s relatively understandable that iTunes music plays only on iPods. If they made non-iTunes DRM’ed music playable on the iPod, though, they would not sell any fewer iPods, they might just lose a little money on iTunes music sales. I think this is the part that is easiest for us to be frustrated at.

    So my take on this is: Selling songs just for the iPod? Relatively understandable, not much impact on the market overall, especially since you can have iTunes without an iPod and easyly de-DRM those songs. Keeping the iPod from playing songs from other stores? That’s the annoying part.

    And for all those people who foam at the mouth at the mere thought of DRM, please remember this: As has been noted here, Apple would not be able to have a music store at all if it did not have DRM. The recording labels just would not allow Apple to sell (or, rather, license) their music without DRM. And given this fact, Apple kept the consumers in mind, and has actually managed to set up a system with DRM that is barely strong enough to please the recording industry; DRM that can be broken by the average user with a CD burner. So let’s not hate Apple for their DRM, but for its lack of interoperability.