“When it comes to legal action over downloaded music, the defendants are often individuals: The lone user downloads one too many copyrighted files and Big Media goes on the offensive. But now, the little guy is turning the tables,” Catherine Holahan reports for BusinessWeek. “A fresh crop of lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals argue that it’s the big companies that are ripping off the consumer.”

Holahan reports, “Melanie Tucker, a San Diego resident, says Apple Computer unfairly restricts how its iTunes Store customers can use legally purchased music. Apple uses its so-called Digital Rights Management, or DRM, software to prevent iTunes songs from easily running on media players that compete with its iPods. (The files can be converted but the process is time-consuming and can be confusing.) Apple’s brand of DRM software, called FairPlay, also prevents music purchased through services other than iTunes from playing on the iPod.”

MacDailyNews Note: FairPlay does not “prevent music purchased through services other than iTunes from playing on the iPod.” In fact, it is the other services’ DRM (almost all of the also-rans use Microsoft’s DRM) that is not supported in Apple’s iPod. Microsoft’s DRM also does not support Mac users, while Apple’s FairPlay supports both Mac and Windows. Apple’s iTunes Store is actually the most inclusive of all the services that are forced to use DRM by the music cartels.

Holahan continues, “Tucker maintains that the company, which controls between 70% to more than 85% of the legal music download market and perhaps a 90% share of the digital music player market, is behaving like an overly aggressive monopoly, stifling competition in violation of antitrust legislation.”

“Tucker’s suit comes on the heels of a March, 2006 class action filed by Scott Ruth against music industry players including Sony BMG Music Entertainment (owned by Sony and Bertelsmann Media), Universal Music Group, Time Warner Music Group, and EMI. Ruth, an Arizona resident, argues that the labels are violating antitrust agreements by using DRM to prevent music from being sold by a variety of retailers, thereby stifling competition that could keep prices down. Both Ruth and Tucker’s suits seek compensation for music download customers as well as a change in the restrictions,” Holahan reports.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s better.

Holahan continues, “Both Apple and Microsoft, maker of the Zune music player, have said they have not made their products interoperable because people want a seamless experience between download store and device.”

MacDailyNews Take: You know, it’s shocking that the Zune is even mentioned. There are much more successful iPod also-rans than Microsoft’s Zune. SanDisk, for example. Creative, even. Enough with the Zune already, mainstream media types. You’re reporting on a player/service that nobody owns or uses and that just sounds stupid.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We wish DRM didn’t exist. Apple doesn’t need it: both the iPod and iTunes are plenty strong enough to appeal to large swaths of consumers on their own merits. Plus, it’s so easily removed, that’s it’s pointless. The mass pirates the music labels are worried about aren’t going to let a little DRM get in their way, so the only people DRM is affecting are regular, law-abiding consumers who just want to listen to their music. Thankfully, Apple’s iTunes Store allows music to be burned without DRM to music CD to the played in CD players and/or transferred to any device they desire.