A new class action lawsuit against Apple recently kicked off, and it centers around the company’s old policy to lock all iPod owners into the iTunes ecosystem. That meant that consumers had to use the iPod with iTunes, and had to use iTunes with an iPod. You couldn’t store music from competing music services, such as Real Networks, on the device, and that had some customers, who might have wanted to move music collections over to competing devices, up in arms.
We already know that Steve Jobs’ e-mails are being used in the lawsuit, and now a new deposition video cited by CNET highlights some of Steve Jobs’ explanations as to why it decided to lock down its content with DRM. The late Apple CEO argued that it wasn’t an attempt to harm consumers, but rather to protect its contracts with record labels who were providing the music to be sold in iTunes.
“We had pretty much black and white contracts with the labels,” Jobs said, according to CNET, which explained that Apple’s FairPlay DRM system had special tools built in to prevent competing files from operating on the iPod properly – something you’re probably already well aware of. Jobs said Apple took this approach because, had it allowed competing music service files to operate on the iPod, it would have been in breach of the contracts and could have faced losing the record label content – the songs that populated iTunes – entirely. That, it seems, would have been worse for consumers who owned iPods.
“We were very concerned with somebody like Real promising customers that they would have compatibility, when in the future they might not,” Jobs explained. “That’s not something we could guarantee. So we could get sued by all these people.” Ultimately, Apple is being sued now by its customers, and it may owe as much as $350 million to 8 million iPod owners.