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Steve Jobs must answer in antitrust case, says judge

updated 09:35 am EDT, Tue March 22, 2011

Dispute over blocking Real files from iPods

A federal magistrate judge, Howard R. Lloyd, has ordered Apple CEO Steve Jobs to answer questions in a long-running antitrust dispute over the iPod and RealNetworks audio files, says Bloomberg. "The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software," Lloyd's judgment reads. Jobs is expected to undergo a deposition, although it is not allowed to last more than two hours or stray from the topic at the heart of the case.

In July 2004, Real announced plans to sell music files compatible with the iPod through a platform called Harmony. By October 2004, Apple made software changes which suddenly prevented Real tracks from playing on iPods. The antitrust allegations stem from a 2005 lawsuit by iTunes customer Thomas Slattery, who argues that Apple illegally limited the public's choice by linking the iPod to the iTunes Music Store; while Apple's now-abandoned FairPlay copy protection prevented iTunes downloads from working on competing media players, Slattery says that it also blocked music from third-party stores from working on iPods. Such discrimination could be seen as arbitrary given that iPods have always been capable of playing music associated with no store at all.

Lloyd's ruling states that Jobs will not have to answer questions about Apple imposing FairPlay on its music, or refusing to license FairPlay to other companies. Both of these were excluded from litigation in a December 2009 decision by another judge. Jobs will, however, have to explain the October 2004 changes that interfered with the iPod's ability to play Real files.

An Apple spokeswoman has refused to comment on the current situation. In December, though, Apple's legal team actively fought the prospect of a deposition. Attorney David Kiernan argued that "any deposition of Mr. Jobs would be repetitive, at best."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I still don't understand

    how you can be accused of a monopoly abuse within your own product line, but If Apple was the only manufacturer of music players, I could see it, maybe...

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    All This Time ...

    ... and I still can't get those damned CDs to play in my cassette tape player and I can't listen to those stupid cassette tapes on my record player. On top of that, my records won't play on my reel-to-reel tape recorder and those effin' reel-to-reel tapes are useless on the wire recorder - which itself can't even play my wax cylinders. (Still waiting to collect on my lawsuit against Thomas Edison on that last one - frickin' slow court system!)

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: I still don't understand

    how you can be accused of a monopoly abuse within your own product line, but If Apple was the only manufacturer of music players, I could see it, maybe...

    You can't take the argument that there are other music players, because that's the argument Microsoft kept pointing out ("There are other OSes out there, people have a choice, so we're not a monopoly").

    And yet the fanboys are also the ones who'll tell you that all other music players suck. "Zune? What's that?" "Apple re-invented the music player."

    And a judge can easily rule it wasn't a monopoly or there isn't merit. But the defense needs info to make their case so a judge can make a ruling. Justice isn't done by just performing a 'smell test' or a 'this is stupid' test.

  1. Loren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @Foe Hammer

    Post of the week! lol

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not quite, Loren ...

    ... I'm totally PO'ed that I forgot all about my 8-tracks. (Will my red Panasonic Dynamite player ever forgive me?)

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