Antitrust lawsuit accuses Apple of online music monopoly, refusing to support Windows Media Audio

“An antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple on Dec. 31 charges the company with maintaining an illegal monopoly on the digital music market,” Thomas Claburn reports for InformationWeek.

“Plaintiff Stacie Somers, represented by attorneys Craig Briskin and Steven Skalet of Mehri & Skalet PLLC, Alreen Haeggquist of Haeggquist Law Group, and Helen Zeldes, alleges that Apple dominates the market for online video, online music, and digital music players and that its dominance constitutes a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The attorneys are seeking to have their lawsuit certified as a class action,” Claburn reports.

“The complaint against Apple claims that the company controls 75% of the online video market, 83% of the online music market, more than 90% of the hard-drive based music player market, and 70% of the Flash-based music player market,” Claburn reports.

“The complaint takes issue with Apple’s refusal to support [Microsoft’s] Windows Media Audio format.’Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format,’ it states, noting that America Online, Wal-Mart, Napster, MusicMatch, Best Buy, Yahoo Music, FYE Download Zone, and Virgin Digital all support WMA files,” Claburn reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A monopoly, which this isn’t anyway, is legal. It’s monopoly abuse that’s illegal. Where’s the abuse? iPods also play MP3, WAV, AIFF, among other formats. Where’s the exclusion? What is Apple supposed to do, support every also-ran, failed format in the world?

112 Comments

  1. The highly overrated Steve Jobs has become a very big target – lawyers love it but what about investors holding AAPL? When do they begin to worry – not necessiarly about the reality but about the buzz?

    Buzz drives Wall Street far more than quarterly numbers that blow away predictions and far more than the announcement of some new gadget.

  2. As long as there are other services and devices that play WMA files, there’s no monopoly or abuse. Everyone has the right to choose the device that places the media they want to hear.

    Their argument would be like trying to say that all DVD players must also support HD-DVD, Blu-Ray and mini-Discs.

  3. “The complaint takes issue with Apple’s refusal to support [Microsoft’s] Windows Media Audio format.’Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format,’ it states, noting that America Online, Wal-Mart, Napster, MusicMatch, Best Buy, Yahoo Music, FYE Download Zone, and Virgin Digital all support WMA files,” .

    The way I read that argument is that because Apple doesn’t support one format developed by a company with a monopolistic record (suspending for a moment knowledge that Apple’s products support multiple nonproprietary formats) it is a monopoly. That logic is about as eff’d up as a football bat.

  4. >MDN wrote: Where is the abuse?

    The abuse stems from the fact that you have to buy an iPod if you want to take your iTMS-bought purchases with you. That’s the lock.

    The unreasonable say you can burn the songs to CD and re-rip them into a format of your choice. However, that jailbreak method doesn’t make sense if you’ve bought hundreds – or worse, thousands – of tracks from iTMS.

  5. Ummmmm, go to Amazon and buy your music there. Then sync it to your iPod.
    Buy your CDs where ever and RIP it to iTunes and sync.

    Don’t like Apple’s products, who held a gun to your head and made you buy them?

  6. Stacie, Microsoft’s wonderous Zune plays WMA files. You don’t have to be locked into Apple’s awful proprietary scheme which dominates digital content. How anyone could let just one company rule the distribution and playback of media with their cold iron claws is beyond me, but hey, I rock a Zune. I’m one of the lucky ones who got out. I could sell you my Ditty. It plays WMA files too.

    These are truly dark ages we live in and I salute Stacie’s fight to free all consumers from Apple’s ruthless tyranny. Finally out of the perhaps 100,000,000 maligned I-Pod sufferers one has the courage to take a stand. Keep up the good work and let’s hope Microsoft’s magnificent WMA format gets the chance it deserves.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  7. “It takes a lot of money to launch a case like this. Who’s paying, I wonder?”

    You can almost be certain it is not Stacie Somers. Of course win or lose the lawyers stand to make scads of money on this. Hmmm, wonder if Stacie is a lawyer? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    Ken

  8. These people have it all backwards. iTunes does not exist as a method to drive iPod sales. iTunes is there so that people who purchased iPods have an online source for their music. If you want to buy music for your sandisk online, go to any other number of compatible services.

    It’s like going to a Ford dealership wanting to buy parts for your Yugo. If you don’t want to go to a dealership, go to an auto parts store. That would be the equivalent of buying mp3s from an online source or ripping your own CDs.

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