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  • Apple's Old DRM Policies Set To Go on Trial in a Lawsuit against RealNetworks


    RealNetworks, the company behind the old RealPlayer software was recently granted a jury trial in a lawsuit against iTunes from back in 2004. This particular suit was revolved around an anti-piracy measure that Apple implemented on iTunes and the iPad after RealNetworks debuted their competing music player.RealNetworks is stating that the Cupertino California company used iTunes updates to prohibit users from playing music that was purchased from competing online stores.

    This is where the company is suing Apple for a lump sum of $351,631,153 in damages. This number was broken down into the following: $148,947,126 for resellers, $194,655,141 for direct purchasers and $8,028,886 for additional iPod sales from the additional transactions.

    The old software company will be backing their case with expert witness testimony from Stanford University Economics professor, Roger Noll. Noll previously explained the following regarding Apple’s tactic:

    …raised the cost of switching from iPods to competing portable digital media players by eliminating the ability of consumers to collect a library of downloads that could be played on all players.
    Apple’s effort to exclude Noll’s testimony was rejected by Judge Gonzales Rogers’ ruling, as a result the company will be defending with the stance that RealNetwork’s share of the 2006 digital music market was less than 3% which makes their claims “insignificant.” The Cupertino California company noted that it “makes it implausible that Harmony could have the effect ascribed to it by its plaintiffs.” Apple also noted that RealNetworks even admitted to investors in 2005 that their Harmony technology could potentially put them at risk of legal action from Apple.

    The trial between the two is set to take place on November 17th. Apple can elect to settle prior to the date but it’s unlikely that the company will do so. Like many other battles the Cupertino California company will likely end up pursuing the matter in court.

    Source: AMLaw via ArsTechnica
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple's Old DRM Policies Set To Go on Trial in a Lawsuit against RealNetworks started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. ads1230's Avatar
      ads1230 -
      I remember RealPlayer. It was awful. It installed with a load of additional rubbish just like divx. Also, simpsons episodes used to be encoded as super compressed, low quality RealPlayer encoded files. Can't really complain about that tho...
    1. Wayno's Avatar
      Wayno -
      RealPlayer was a horrible PoS but then so is iTunes. This will be an interesting case though. The reason for implementing DRM by Apple (at least publicly) was to protect copyright - locking users in was just a handy little side effect for them. And since Apple was the first to offer mainstream music without DRM a few years later, then Real's argument probably doesn't hold a lot of water.
    1. fleurya's Avatar
      fleurya -
      This article is really confusing. First you say the lawsuit is about Apple not letting music purchased from places other than iTunes play in iTunes or on iPods. But then, the statement from the economics professor makes it sound like they are suing because you couldn’t take Apple’s DRM music and play it on non-Apple devices.

      Regarding the first issue, IIRC I could import music from other locations into iTunes, because I had a tons of music from Napster that I loaded in. And you could add music by ripping CDs directly into my iTunes library. So I don’t think that was an issue unless there was some limitation on the RealPlayer files themselves.

      On the latter issue, it was not Apple’s choice to lock down the music files. That was a requirement of the music labels to keep pirating down. So if that is the issue they seem to be going after the wrong company, or should at least include the labels in this fight. But, the fact is pretty much all MP3 music was DRM in the beginning, which, again, was the only way the music labels would allow MP3 sales! Remember Play For Sure? Why don’t they sue MS for their DRM. And Sony, and everyone else!

      And, to the best of my knowledge, DRM media exists to this day. All legit digital movies are DRM or otherwise protected. Amazon makes a killing off of selling ebooks that only play on Kindles, among other ebook sellers that do the same. So will this be the end of all protected media if they win the trial
    1. bigstudio's Avatar
      bigstudio -
      IIRC an issue was Apple preventing Realplayer files from working on Apple Products. Realplayer had a plugin which allowed their files to be imported into iTunes and subsequently the iPod. Apple repeatedly changed iTunes so the plugin wouldn't work.
    1. fleurya's Avatar
      fleurya -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigstudio View Post
      IIRC an issue was Apple preventing Realplayer files from working on Apple Products. Realplayer had a plugin which allowed their files to be imported into iTunes and subsequently the iPod. Apple repeatedly changed iTunes so the plugin wouldn't work.
      Well if that’s the case, first thing I would do is point to whatever laws allow movie theaters and ball parks to ban outside food so they can overcharge for it at their concession stands. It’s basically the same principle. I have perfectly good chips at home, but I can’t eat them at the movies.

      But I swear I remember this not being an issue! It was probably around’04/’05 I got my first iPod, and I had a lot of music on it. Problem is, I NEVER bought music back in my young and foolish days. I got it from the likes of Napster. The only way I could get it into iTunes is importing it. So there must be a way to get RealPlayer files to work in iTunes unless they had some special formatting issues, which is RealPlayer’s fault, not Apple’s.

      Additionally if that is the case that people couldn’t move their Real files to iTunes, I’m not sure how it would hurt Real Player. If people wanted to move their library over to iTunes, doesn’t that mean they are moving AWAY from Real Player or other sources? I guess it would mean a current iPod owner would not be able to buy from Real Player, but it would also keep Real Player users loyal, so would it be a zero sum effect? Were Real Player’s prices cheaper? If not, then why bother buying from them over direct from Apple?