Apple on trial: Were iTunes updates really an anti-consumer scheme?

“The Apple iTunes DRM trial underway in federal court here will come down to how jurors view certain code that Apple added to iTunes,” Joe Mullin writes for Ars Technica. “The plaintiffs, representing a class of about 8 million consumers as well as large retailers, say it was anything but an ‘upgrade.’ They’re seeking $351 million in damages.”

“In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs are contending that specific changes Apple made to iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 were anticompetitive,” Mullin writes. “Apple isn’t being sued for having DRM, per se, but for making tweaks to its DRM that made some forms of inter-operability, like Real Networks’ Harmony, stop working.”

“In his opening, Apple attorney William Isaacson stressed that the iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 updates in question were real product improvements, not a strategic decision to keep out Harmony,” Mullin writes. “When iTunes 7.0 and 7.4 were launched, among other changes, the company updated its encryption, he said. Real Networks’ reverse-engineering became ‘outdated’ because of those updates. ‘We changed the encryption because that’s what you do with encryption.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Steve Jobs on RealNetworks in 2011 deposition: ‘Do they still exist?’ – December 3, 2014
Steve Jobs said Apple took pains to protect record contracts – December 3, 2014
Star witness in Apple lawsuit is Steve Jobs – December 1, 2014
How to kill the DRM in your old iTunes Store music purchases – March 18, 2014
Apple asks judge to dismiss FairPlay lawsuit following Steve Jobs’ deposition – April 19, 2011
Apple’s iTunes Store goes DRM-free and 3G via iPhone; variable pricing coming soon – January 6, 2009
Major music cartels demand concessions from Apple before inking DRM-free iTunes Store music deals – December 15, 2008
RealNetworks ‘Harmony’ stops working on iPods but nobody notices for a month and a half – December 15, 2004
Real’s online petition for music ‘freedom’ backfires bigtime – August 17, 2004
Real cracks Apple’s Fairplay; to sell iPod-compatible songs without Apple’s authorization – July 25, 2004
Jobs to Glaser: Go pound sand – April 16, 2004


  1. I remember very well those cat-and-mouse games between Real and Apple. Make no mistake about it: everyone back then was acutely aware that Apple’s iTunes updates had one major purpose: to disable the music bought outside the iTunes eco-system. Apple never said this, but if you look at MDN and postings on these forums back then, you’ll clearly see that all of us were cheering for Apple. And everyone supported Apple’s efforts to thwart Real.

    It will be difficult for Apple to prove that this wasn’t the primary goal of those ‘updates’.

  2. Apple’s goal at the time was to sell more iPods, not more iTunes music. I believe Apple’s aseertion that they had to protect the integrety of FairPlay in order to maintain their contracts with the record companies.

    If Real provided a mechanism to convert their songs to accepted non-DRM versions, then Apple would have had no issue. After all, the painful method of burning a CD and reimporting was always allowed in both directions.

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