Apple erased “wrong” music from players

    Removing songs from competing services can cost a company a billion dollars

    During the trial of the lawsuit for violation of antitrust laws, very interesting details surfaced. Lawyers say Apple removed songs purchased outside the iTunes store from iPods.

    This statement was made by lawyer Patrick Coughlin, who represents the injured party. According to him , from 2007 to 2009, Apple secretly from consumers during synchronization with the iTunes library erased songs downloaded from competitor services.

    It looked like this: a user could download songs from third-party stores onto his iPod, for example, RealNetworks using special programs that circumvented apple DRM protection without obtaining permission from the owner of the ecosystem.

    When trying to sync, iTunes looked for “other people's” tracks. If they were, the interface required restoring factory settings, says Coflin. After the reset, the files were deleted, and non-iTunes songs could not be downloaded back thanks to the updated DRM methods.

    Thus, Apple software hid the real policy of the actions taken, which was aimed at forcing users to stop leaving money in other people's media stores.

    In 2006, iPod nano was introduced. He had twice as much memory, and the lineup had five different colors than Cupertino was very proud of. But Apple was silent about the new Keybag Verification Code feature, which was not aimed at improving performance or improving the GUI or sound quality. This feature did not allow the client to listen to legally purchased songs in third-party stores, claims plaintiffs lawyer Bonnie Sweeney claims . Changes to iTunes versions 7.0 and 7.4 are called anti-competitive.

    The story of this lawsuit began in January 2005, almost 10 years ago. Today Apple is accused of creating a monopoly by restricting users to a closed ecosystem. The apple giant has imprisoned customers in the iTunes digital prison using DRM called FairPlay .

    The interests of individuals and organizations that have purchased iPod classic, iPod shuffle, iPod touch and / or iPod nano are protected between September 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009. This is about 8 million people.

    The amount of the claim is $ 351 million. According to the antitrust laws of the United States, it could potentially become three times higher and exceed a billion dollars.

    The figure is not taken from the ceiling: Sweeney gave some calculations. Buyers overpaid 7.45%, Apple resellers - 2.38%. Over the specified time period, resellers bought approximately 36 million different models of iPod, spending an average of $ 173.93 apiece. Consumers bought 11.9 million units and spent an average of $ 219.15. There are also approximately 485 thousand sales, which ended in a return or upgrade.

    For the end user, the introduction of DRM led to the problem of the inability to listen to their own MP3 files on the iPod, and the content purchased in iTunes could not be used outside the Apple ecosystem. This led the Free Software Foundation to launch the Defective By Design campaign in 2006.

    In turn, Apple representatives claimthat such a message and the subsequent removal of “bad” tracks is just a security measure to protect users.

    Augustin Faruggia says the warning text was dictated by the fact that "users did not have to give too much information." The director of security at Apple said that the company "did not want to confuse users."

    He also noted that Apple was “very paranoid” in protecting iTunes. To a large extent, this was triggered by a 2004 Steve Jobs internal email.

    After RealNetworks launched the 2006 Harmony service in Cupertino, they began to worry. Jobs wrote: "Jeff, we may need to change something." “I think we need to talk ... about conducting simple authentication in 6.0.2 for the iPod. Not with a database, but with the help of keybag keys, ”wrote Jeff Robbins to another colleague.

    Meanwhile, Jobs and Schiller were preparing a press release. In his earlier version, Jobs directly accused Real of using hacker methods and ethics. “I like to compare them with hackers. Mute the part that describes their success? ”Wrote Schiller. There was nothing to muffle: even after August 2004, when Real sold songs at 49 cents at a cost of at least 70, Apple lost only a few percent of the market.

    The accused side claims that it was the music industry representatives who insisted on such a tough defense system. Frequent updates were needed to deal with hackers (specific nicknames were called: DVD Jon and Requiem), which found new and new ways to circumvent restrictions. The other day, the court examined Jobs letters and videos of 2011, from which it was possible to understand how much Apple was afraid of losing contracts with music labels.

    And with updates, too, not everything is so simple, they added not only DRM. For example, in 2006, films appeared in version 7.0. This was one of the largest updates in the history of iTunes.

    Finally, Harmony’s working methods really resemble hackers: a program without Apple’s permission invaded digital keys and emulated FairPlay’s actions. New encryption methods in versions 7.0 and 7.4 solved this problem, albeit in such a radical way, associated with deceiving the user.

    By the way, RealNetworks presented did not testify, since the company is not the injured party in the process. Today iTunes does not use DRM for songs.

    The trial will continue in a few weeks. Interestingly, among the 8 jurors there was one programmer and two engineers, who, judging by the answers to the questions, might have experience writing code.

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