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]