Steve Jobs on RealNetworks in 2011 deposition: ‘Do they still exist?’

“The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., led the company to violate antitrust laws by restricting music purchases for iPod users to Apple’s iTunes digital store, an attorney for consumers suing Apple said in court,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters.

“Opening statements began on Tuesday in an Oakland, California, federal court in the long-running class action, which harks back to Apple’s pre-iPhone era. The plaintiffs, a group of individuals and businesses who purchased iPods from 2006 to 2009, are seeking about $350 million in damages from Apple for unfairly blocking competing device makers. That amount would be automatically tripled under antitrust laws,” Levine reports. “Plaintiff attorney Bonny Sweeney showed the court emails from top Apple executives, including Jobs, discussing a challenge in the online music market from Real Networks, which developed a rival digital song manager. When it was developed, music purchased on Real’s store could be played on iPods.”

“The trial evidence includes emails from Jobs, as well as video deposition testimony the former Apple chief executive gave shortly before he died in 2011. In July 2004, Jobs wrote to other Apple executives with a suggested press release about Real Networks. ‘How’s this?’ Jobs wrote. ”We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod,”” Levine reports. “‘I like likening them to hackers,’ Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller responded.”

“During his 2011 deposition, Jobs displayed some of the edge he was known for, according to a transcript filed in court,” Levine reports. “Asked if he was familiar with Real Networks, Jobs replied: ‘Do they still exist?'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This lawsuit should target those who demanded DRM on music to “protect” it, not Apple which was forced to develop and use FairPlay by the music cartels.

Related articles:
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. Odd…. my iPod was capable of playing MP3 content from anywhere, including Real’s Rhapsody Service back in the day, once the DRM was gone. It wasn’t Apple’s choice to DRM music, not sure how the blame can be laid at their feet.

  2. And who fought the hardest to get rid of the DRM in the end? Apple pushed quite a bit of the move to DRMless music and even allowed past DRMed music to be converted to DRMless files. Seems that Apple in the end provided a nice path out of the DRM that was thrust upon them in the begining.

  3. Wasn’t breaking DRM illegal according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
    And why is nobody taking Sony or Microsoft to court for locking people to their video game systems?
    And since everyone started their online music stores using DRM back then, why is Apple singled out, especially when they were the first to ask the labels to drop DRM?
    And why did the other digital music vendors not offer DRM-free music which would have worked with the iPod ecosystem without hassle? Amazon did, why not the others?

    1. Here are some of the answers.

      1. Yes, breaking DRM was a violation of DMCA.
      2. Neither Sony, nor Microsoft, had a monopoly-like market share in the gaming console market space; they were effectively competing against each other.
      3. Apple was singled out because very rapidly they attained monopoly-like market share in the online music download service market space.
      4. Record labels initially insisted on DRM. However, very soon, Apple emerged as the overwhelmingly most powerful music retailer, and labels became extremely worried that they won’t be able to negotiate anything with Steve Jobs. They approached Amazon and offered them DRM-free tracks, in order to try to chip away at Apple’s dominance. Other music retailers all focused on subscription services, which couldn’t properly work without DRM. For a while, labels withheld DRM-free tracks from Apple in hopes that Amazon would rapidly build market share. When it didn’t happen, and under powerful pressure from Jobs, they gave up and allowed DRM-free on Apple as well.

  4. I am tired of the “Steve Jobs was the biggest anti-trust monopolist the world has even seen” meme originally voiced by Amazon and pursued with a vengeance by the DOJ. The assertion simply does not ring true. The man was not even interested in money, he was interested in changing the world.

    Sincerely hope Steve’s name is exonerated in all such cases. It is shameful.

    1. In all fairness, Steve Jobs may have been exactly that; not for the reasons other monopolists are, but because he was extremely protective of the innovation that Apple brought about. Some actions do raise eyebrows, though.

    1. I’ll answer that with -10, then.

      This case is about Apple’s deliberate actions intended to prevent media sellers other than iTunes from selling music that could be played on Apple’s devices, thus leveraging their position as big dog in the player market to prevent real competition with other media sellers.

  5. As always. The truth is, the only ones to make, any real money, out of these lawsuits is the lawyers. Same thing with class action lawsuits. I received a check for ten cents once for a class action lawsuit and the lawyers who filed it made $8,500,000. It cost more to send me the check than the check was worth. Crazy money hungry ambulance chasing lawyers.

  6. With Yosemite, Apple has (again) built in code to the OS to remove RealPlayer Downloader from your Mac. But this time they specifically written code that prevents it from running. I’m used to Apple pulling this trick with the past few upgrades and I just reinstall, but Yosemite is the first time Apple has targeted this software specifically. Another reason Yosemite sux.

  7. Death to Apple by a thousand bureaucratic cuts, that is what’s happening here. Frivolous lawsuit after lawsuit courtesy of those who love to take other people’s money power and lives away.

    That’s great, next President will be able to say “We tortured some folks and destroyed some companies.”

    Mission accomplished.

  8. MDN is, as usual, playing a partisan tune here. Competition law applies to all businesses, including our favourite company, Apple.

    Irrespective of the merits of the lawsuit (which will be tested in the court) all that is required at this stage is that Apple has a case to answer.

    When all the evidence is available (and it is dribbling out day by day) we will all be able to make up our own minds as to whether Apple has breached competition law.

    Apple has not always treated the law with respect, or (as in the failing macbook saga) treated Apple users fairly.

    Some maturity by MDN, and less partisan puffery, would make MDN’s commentary more credible.

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