As some of you know we’ve been having some thoughtful discussions on Apple, iPod, and its DRM in the forums (here and here), but I don’t think any of us knew that the numbers were as high as the judge found the evidence to be. Also of interest was that Judge Ware specifically rejected Apple’s argument that tying doesn’t apply since consumers can buy iTunes music for playback on their computers without having to own an iPod. I’m sure some will say that this is not a monopoly, but ask yourself: What other online music services, other than the iTunes Music Store, offers Apple’s Fairplay DRM wrapped music for you to purchase for your iPod? That’s right, exactly zero. So unless you own a physical CD and have ripped the tracks to MP3 or AAC, there’s no other way to add music to the device other than by way of iTunes. (OK, there are two non-traditional exceptions: 1) Services like eMusic that sell DRM-free MP3s, and 2) Real’s Harmony software that can convert their copy protected music to a compatible format for the iPod – Note that Apple threatened Real with a lawsuit for providing this feature.)
On the flipside, if you’ve purchase DRM wrapped music from services like Napster or Yahoo! Music, you will be denied access to those files since Apple doesn’t feel compelled to license Windows Media DRM (not that Microsoft hasn’t offered). So you see, being the leader of “closed system,” even if you’re a small company, can get you into trouble when you have the majority of the market locked down and are unwilling to loosen your restrictions on allowing your player to work with other services and codecs.
* If anyone has more details on the proceeding of this case, please comment.
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