A US jury on Tuesday cleared Apple Inc of abusing its dominant market position in an antitrust case over online music for the iPod.
The class-action antitrust case in California’s US federal court featured videotaped testimony recorded by Apple cofounder Steve Jobs before he died in 2011.
The US$350 million suit accused the tech giant of illegally forcing iPod users to purchase their music on its iTunes service.
The suit said iPod buyers between 2006 and 2009 were blocked from buying music from other vendors, advancing Apple’s dominant position on music downloads.
The jury ruled otherwise.
“We thank the jury for their service and we applaud their verdict,” Apple said in a statement. “We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world’s best way to listen to music. Every time we’ve updated those products — and every Apple product over the years — we’ve done it to make the user experience even better.”
Jobs’ testimony from a few months before his death in October 2011 was played at the hearing on Friday last week.
In excerpts published by online news site The Verge, he said that Apple was “very concerned” about retaliatory measures that could be taken by record companies if songs purchased in iTunes and downloaded to an iPod were then copied onto another computer.
“We went to great pains to make sure that people couldn’t hack into our digital rights management system because if they could, we would get nasty e-mails from the labels threatening us that they were going to yank the license,” Jobs said.
He said that “lots of hackers” were trying to break into the system, and as a result, Apple had to be constantly “revving the iTunes and iPod software, closing any holes that might be in it, or any problems it might have.”
If these changes meant that competitors became locked out, then they were just “collateral damage,” he said.
Plaintiffs in the class-action suit said that the repeat changes prevented other online music stores — and potentially less expensive ones at that — from adapting their own systems fast enough for their music to be used on the iPod.
This, they said, meant iPod owners had to buy via iTunes.
Apple has remained a powerful player in online music, but in 2009 dropped its “digital rights management” that limited how users could copy or transfer songs.
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