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Apple Has Big Win In iPod, iTunes Case

Apple Has Big Win In iPod, iTunes Case

The quick verdict ruled that Apple didn’t violate antitrust laws by blocking music from rival storefronts in iTunes software updates, Reuters reports.

The verdict was rendered in less than a day, following closing arguments on Monday. Had the jury swung in favor of the plaintiffs, the company could have owed some $350 million in penalties.

During the trial, Apple argued that the FairPlay DRM system and related iTunes updates were meant to protect people against malware. A company security director, Augustin Farrugia, in fact claimed during testimony that Apple was “very paranoid” when it came to building a digital music service, and was concerned about excluding both malware and pirated music.

 The plaintiffs’ side took the view that Apple was intentionally trying to exclude rival music services, namely Real, from selling to iPod owners. Real devised a workaround for FairPlay that would let people load its music on iPods, but this was broken in a later iTunes update.

The lawsuit is an amalgamation of cases tracing back to 2005, and was languishing in courts until this year. It evolved over time, particular after Apple’s decision to kill FairPlay in 2009, which did away with a complaint that Apple was refusing to license its DRM to other businesses. In the run-up to this month’s trial, two plaintiffs were forced to drop out as neither could prove they had bought an iPod in the window covered by the lawsuit. This forced a last-minute scramble to find a new plaintiff.

Key Apple executives provided testimony and/or evidence, including senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, and former CEO Steve Jobs. 

An email from the latter initially appeared damning. “We need to make sure that when Music Match [sic] launches their download music store they cannot use iPod,” Jobs wrote about one competitor. “Is this going to be an issue?”