Apple boss, Steve Jobs, is to face questioning over an antitrust case that was filed against the iTunes music service more than 6 years ago. The class action suit which contains various claims, primarily alleges that Apple unlawfully monopolized the digital music market by ensuring songs on its iTunes Store could only be playable on iPods and vice-versa. This isn't the first time Apple have found themselves in hot water over digital music. Last year, we blogged (read article) about Apple's alleged online tactics which sparked calls for the Department of Justice to investigate.
According to an article by Bloomberg, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Howard R. Lloyd, has now ruled that the consumers who filed the antitrust law suit in 2005 can now question Jobs, but only for a maximum of two hours covering software changes that Apple made in October 2004. In particular, the report by Bloomberg indicates that the questioning will focus around software changes that "rendered the digital music files engineered by RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) inoperable with Apple's iPod music player."
Shortly after RealNetworks announced the launch of its Harmony platform in 2004 which enabled iPod users to play songs downloaded from their service, it is alleged that Apple released an iPod update five days later that rendered the songs unplayable. But why has Steve Jobs in particular been ordered by the court to answer questions? Judge Lloyd is quoted as saying, "The court finds that Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, firsthand knowledge about the issues at the center of the dispute over RealNetworks software."
Although the iTunes Store now sells DRM-free songs encoded in the iTunes Plus format, this case hinges on Apple's FairPlay DRM system and whether it tried to unfairly monopolize the digital music market.
Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
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