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back to article Apple targeted in DRM monopoly suit (again)

Steve Jobs has received a New Year nastygram from a woman who is upset that iPods won't play Microsoft DRM-crippled songs as well as Apple DRM-crippled songs. Lawyers representing Stacie Somers filed a federal anti-trust complaint in Northern California District Court in San Jose on New Year's eve. The suit alleges that: "Apple …

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If you don't like it

then don't buy it.

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Jobs Horns

Hope she wins...

If only to wipe that grin of Jobs. Apple has had his monopoly for too long.

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Stop

Yawn

WHY?!

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Logic?

"The suit alleges that: "Apple has engaged in tying and monopolising behaviour, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets."

"Apple's iPod is alone among mass-market Digital Music Players in not supporting the WMA format," it continues."

The suit seems to be contradicting itself massively here, how on earth can a complaint about a product not supporting something it's never advertised as being able to support, when the customer is perfectly free to purchase any of the multitude of other players that DO advertise and provide support for it, be valid?

This seems to me to be akin to buying a philips head screwdriver then complaining that the manufacture's being monopolistic against flathead screws because the screwdriver cant unscrew both types.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not let her buy it as an add on?

Well if it's so important to her to be able to play WMAs, and if it costs money to license the decoder, then why doesn't Jobs sell her the facility?

Buy WMA support at a reasonable (say $20) extra charge and it downloads an add on decoder support.

An extra $20 and you sell her the version of WMA that plays 'play for sure' WMAs (which don't play on normal WMA players).

Another $20 and you get the version of WMA DRM that Zune uses (which don't play on 'Plays for sure' or normal WMA players).

So $60 and she can pretty much play the current WMA variations. Microsoft could do the same with Zune, sell their users 'plays for sure' WMA support for an extra $20 say.

Hey she sounds keen to be ripped off, so go for it!

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Bronze badge

Ogg

We want the oggmonster!

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Rockbox

If you want something done, you've got to do it yourself:

http://www.rockbox.org

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Anonymous Coward

and what about the other way around?

always the same crap, that's unfair I can't play me music bought on iTune on me Zune (or the opposite). I should be able to play it anywhere I want!

Unfortunately you agreed by purchasing from iTune Store that you would have up to 5 devices authorised and those devices have to be of a certain type.

Now, I'm sure it comes the same with WMA DRMised music.

I have a Mac but I don't agree with the fact of being locked in so I don't buy from iTune. If you'd stop buying from them I'm sure they would find a way to get some monnies out of your wallet ... lets say DRM free music. But there are enough people doing so and being happy about it so why should they bother.

I'm sure she did not read the fine prints. Hope the lawers/jury/judge tell her to use ctrl+scrollwheel .... it helps. It's business, you strike a deal with Record Companies but they have to have some assurance that their stuff is secured.

I'm sure she the kind of person to irate because she can't play her HD DVD in her BluRAY or she must have trid to stick a Betamax into a VHS, the only thing is at that time she felt stupid ... how DRM WMA vs. DRM iTune is different?

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Why bother?

If she wanted to play Microsoft format media files then why didn't she buy a better "mp3" player? Not one that would only work with one type of media file.

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Is it the silly season already?

This bright woman would know, if she ever bothered to find out, that there are programmes out in the wild that will convert the WMA crap to MP3 that will play on her iPod and also on her M$ box. But intelligence doesn't go a long way when you can be very litigious (Thick American).

I think she is another RIAA stooge.

Rather than wait for the flaming, I'll get me coat!!!

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Ho hum

Almost certain to come to nothing. Shame though- I might have bought an iPod by now if Apple had supported WMA.

Also- New Year's Eve?? Haven't these people got better things to do with their time?

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Anonymous Coward

Why not just......

Take the common sense approach? If it doesn't do what you want, don't buy it!!!

This Mini I bought...... my 15 stone mate can't fit into it, but he can get into every other car*....I'm gonna sue you!

Makes sense.......

Maybe once sales drop and customer feedback gets through something will be done about it....... or not.......

* ok, I'm simplifying it, I know there are Cincquiewotsits and Smart cars around.......

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Silver badge
Alert

Wma on iPod, no thanks.

who wants their iPod to blue screen on them, ready?

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Paris Hilton

Well researched - not!

1) The PortalPlayer chips in a lot of iPods only allow WMA / MP3 playback in the same way as the CPU in your PC does. I.e. if someone writes the software to do it. There isn't some magic feature of these chips that Apple have turned off - they've just chosen not to write the feature in the first place.

2) Neither generation iPod shuffle uses a PortalPlayer chip in any case :

1st gen shuffle used a SigmaTels D-Major STMP3550 (http://www.sigmatel.com/documents/App-Brief1-Flash-MP3-7-1.pdf).

2nd gen shuffle uses an Apple branded ARM chip,

Still while bother something like facts get in the way of a good legal case eh ?

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Bollox

I don't particularly Apple, I don't see why anyone thinks they act any better than Microsoft, IBM or any other corporate. In fact I would say the RIAA learned most of their customer relations strategy from Apple.

But this lawsuit is complete and utter bollox.

The crux of this seems to be that someone bought an iPod, and now can't play all the music she bought from Microsoft. Except thats not true, just as it isn't true iTunes music can't be played on any other mp3 player.

The problem with DRM is not that it stops you from playing music on rival products, it's that it limits the number of computers and the number of copies you can make of that music.

If the person that bought a computer-related product had taken the time to learn about how to use such things, and how to use the software that provides the media, she would know all this.

She would know that if she has copied that music too many times, she wouldn't have any licenses left to make the drm-free MP3 files she needs for her knew media player. She would also know who was to blame for putting that limitation in place.

If this lawsuit stood, then every Mac owner could demand that Apple pay for the required Windows license needed to run Microsoft software. And every Windows owner could sue Microsoft for not producing an OS that runs Apple products.

I've said it before, some people deserve the RIAA, and this is one of them.

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eh??

WMA?? Why on earth would you want to use that? Aren't most of these devices sold as MP3 players? i.e. you play MP3s on them? I wouldn't dream of using WMA, why would I when MP3 is the acknowledged standard format and there are a hundred and one utilities out there that allow you to convert from one to the other.

What next? Suing Sony because your DVD player doesn't play Betamax videos? Or suing Ford because your petrol powered Focus won't use Diesel? How about suing Microsoft because the XBox 360 won't play PS3 games?

(the last one was a joke as theres no PS3 games you'd want to play on the 360)

Only in America.

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"...huge share of the music player market..."?

Out of interest, what is their market share? I suspect that there are now more music-capable phones than there are iPods.

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Paris Hilton

It's not the player....It's the format

The problem is not Apple with it's so called "restrictive ipod" but more the fact you downloaded music (or ripped music) to a restricted format. You gave up the option to play the music as you wish when you brought DRM encumbered WMA music files.

But if the hassle of this case helps the RIAA towards DRM free music then I'm sure it's a good thing. Maybe Open Sourcers could sue Apple for not supporting OGG.

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eurobloke

eurobloke wrote:

"If only to wipe that grin of Jobs. Apple has had his monopoly for too long."

Sorry about feeding the trolls, but:

monopoly, n.

Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service.

If you're referring to portable media players, I think you'll find there are a few non-iPod brands available on the market.

Also, you can't spell 'off' and Apple is a company.

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Who plays what

Let’s see who supports what:

Apple iPod -

Audio formats supported: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF

User-configurable maximum volume limit

Video

H.264 video, up to 1.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Low-Complexity version of the H.264 Baseline Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; H.264 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.0 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

Microsoft Zune 2.0 -

AUDIO SUPPORT- Windows Media® Audio Standard[3] (WMA) (.wma): Up to 320 Kbps; constant bit rate (CBR) and variable bit rate (VBR) up to 48-kHz sample rate. WMA Pro 2-channel up to 384 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz

WMA Lossless

Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) (.mp4, .m4a, .m4b, .mov) - .m4a and .m4b files without FairPlay DRM up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz

MP3 (.mp3) – Up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz

PICTURE SUPPORT

JPEG – (.jpg)

VIDEO SUPPORT

Windows Media Video (WMV) (.wmv) – Main and Simple Profile, CBR or VBR, up to 3.0 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD WMV files at device sync

MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) (.mp4) Part 2 video[4] – Simple Profile up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD MPEG-4 files at device sync

H.264 video[4] – Baseline Profile up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD H.264 files at device sync

DVR-MS[5] – Zune software will transcode at time of sync

From the looks of it, with the exception of the DRM’ed files, they pretty much play the same formats.

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Easy Solution

Don't buy that piece of shit mp3 player, and you won't have any problems. (And don't buy DRM tracks either)

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Market Share

At one point I saw figures that the iPod had a huge amount of the US market, but wasn't nearly so popular in the Far East where competition from local suppliers was more successful. You have to be careful of market figures, there's usually some weasel words in there that narrow the definition of the market to something favourable to the person presenting (or paying for) the data.

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Linux

I think the problem here is the lawyers (Allegedly...)

I don't think it's a coincidence this lawsuit came directly after (an expensive , for some) christmas holiday. Also, maybe there should be some kind of graduate school qualification in I.T , (as well as biotechnology, etc etc etc..for a lot of these paid mouthpieces to be allowed to advise people on technology subjects... ask Jammie Thomas) ....anyone fancy a class action suit on the matter??? lol .

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Sigh...

Haven't people learned that this particular money-"earning" trick doesn't work? This has been tried too many times...

Not to mention that to stand any chance of working, it needed to be done before iTunes and other stores began selling DRM-free tracks, so it's a year too late. Retard.

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Anonymous Coward

I never noticed Walmart had gone DRM free?

In a side note, when did Walmart go DRM free? There top 46 downloads are all MP3, with the *discounted* WMA's (with DRM) at position 47 or lower.

http://musicdownloads.walmart.com/catalog/servlet/TopDownloadsServlet

I know $0.88 vs $0.94 isn't much, but it shows they have to discount to sell the DRM'd WMAs and even then they don't sell at all well as the unrestricted MP3s.

That's about a damning conviction of DRM as it comes.

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Bronze badge
Joke

Can I sue The Register...

...because the facility exists to publish its website in Welsh (translators), but it doesn't. If I can't have it in Welsh, then it's a clear Lock-In to English which I resent. I want the freedom to read my tech news in Welsh and The Register should be willing to pay someone to translate the website into Welsh.

Dang, my Human Rights are being ruined by the evil of The Register! I will sue you in the European Court and you will publish your website in the language I want you to publish it in. Sure, I understand English and I know of one or two Welsh language sites out there, but I want The Register to do this now!

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Stop

@Niall Campbell

WMA is bad enough in its original form- but converting from WMA to MP3 will chuck away even more information and sound plain awful. I wouldn't touch an iPod or iTunes with a bargepole. I want freedom for my music.

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Anonymous Coward

@Richard

Funnily enough, my employer has been sued in the French speaking bit of Canada for not offering the competitions on our website in the French Canadian dialect. Despite the fact that we are headquartered in the UK, we do have an office in the English speaking part of Canada which constituted "a commercial presence" for legal purposes. We just took the easy option, and blocked access to the competition pages to anyone with their browser locale set to "fr_CA". Had they started out by pointing out the legislation we would have paid for translations into French Canadian, but blocking access means we conform to the legislation and indicates our displeasure at their immediate resort to suing.

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Linux

Can I sue Microsoft...

...for not supporting Linux .rpm files?

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Anonymous Coward

Ridiculous

As much as I hate apple, this case and this woman are ridiculous. Lets hope it gets thrown right out of court where it belongs.

Shock horror, a product of one company doesn't support the propriatory format of a rival company.

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Dead Vulture

Gotta feel sorry...

for Apple, they're getting it from all sides now. DRM is a really dumb technology driven by Record Labels, NOT Artists. I buys music made by musicians. Not record labels.

Anyway, back on topic. Apple clearly are trying to be the Microsoft of the digital music world, and have done very well for themselves in the process. While you can't please all the people all the time they have made some dumb/greedy moves.

I need to read the article referanced as the one were Jobs calls for an end to DRM. He may just get my vote with a line like that.

Btw, DRM-Crippled is absolutly brilliant. Best use of a hyphen. ever.

K

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Google has the answer

Go to google.com and type "remove wma protection" into the little box.

Follow the instructions and now your wma files will play on an iPod.

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Silver badge

I use

a 5 year old mini disc player/recorder.

Digital recording via optical in or analogue recording via line in.

Unlimited storage on cheap discs @ CD quality.

No DRM, No problems at all.

There are advantages to not jumping on the latest technological bandwagons.

Unless of course bragging rights are more important than function.

If Apple makes it clear that the device does not support WMA, the woman should be ignored and told to shut up.

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Paris Hilton

Dumb lawsuit

As much as I don't like companies that rip people off, it would be nice to see Apple re-imbursed for legal fees from such a stupid lawsuit. I think Paris would have understood what she was purchasing if she'd had bought an I-Pod. A word to the woman...

as much as I like the ipod for it's wonderful interface, I bought a player that did what I wanted:

1. didn't require software to load the player with music (drag and drop on my computer, also read as 'ITunes sucks').

2. had the ability to easily replace the battery (recharge-able AA).

3. didn't cost an arm and a leg for flash-memory.

4. played the music formats that I wanted and had an FM player built in.

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Paris Hilton

@eurobloke

So why should Apple be forced to pay MS for their patents on WMA protection? Or, if they aren't being forced, why are MS being forced to license their patented technology to Apple for free?

A bigger (and far more valid) problem is why doesn't apple support FLAC or Ogg Vorbis (free codecs)? It isn't that it can't play it for hardware restrictions because rockbox changes the firmware and works with Vorbis files.

Why doesn't this mawkish harridan demand that Apple's DRM be implemented on the Zune? Of course, since the content producers have apple signing a contract that requires Apple control the devices and remove any backdoor, this contract would have to be declared null and void, else Apple would have to support the multitudinous players out there and patch them ALL within a very short time or lose the entire catalogue.

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In other news...

My new CD player won't play my old Foghat 8-Track tapes. Damn you Sony! Damn you to hell!

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark

Why doesn't Apple iPod support FLAC and Ogg Vobis? Because they are not in the generic PortaPlayer (et al) chipsets that make up the guts of iPod, Apple take generic hardware and simply disable WMA playback (don't need or want to pay fees to Microsoft).

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what a con artist

What a crook. She is nothing but opportunist try to find way ripe-off corporation weakness. She has choice to buy iPOD clone, where plenty of choices out there. I hope Apple will counter sue her for trying to damaging corporation image and her stupidity not to read fine prints before buying.

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Anonymous Coward

www.amazon.com

www.amazon.com, amd mp3's will even play on "PLAY FER SHER"

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Anonymous Coward

So when is she suing Microsoft?

After all their Zune doesn't play their own Plays For Sure WMAs either.

Or why not sue every other mp3 player manufacturer as they can't play the DRMed AAC files from the most popular music download store?

I guess it's the big name that makes them all have a go at Apple, have none of them tried the locked down pieces of junk that Sony sell that have to use Sonicstage to lock the music to the hardware or the new ones which don't tie you into the worst piece of software I've used for years, but won't allow the use of any DRMed files at all.

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This is OLD News

This "news" was posted several days ago, Register. You guys at the Register seem to hate Apple and your goal seems to be to drag on what you consider to be bad Apple news as long as possible. You regularly repost internet "news" days later after it has died down just to keep the "ill will" going, especially when it comes to Apple. Why not report on something NEW? And, something relevant? This lawsuit and "News flash" is neither. It will go nowhere.

Keep up!

JJIrons

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: This is OLD News

Hello JJIrons.

Please reread my report, then reread your comment. I don't think I gave the impression that we think this is "bad" news for Apple anywhere - quite the opposite in fact. If you could enlighten me further on how you think I have it would be much appreciated so I can punish myself accordingly.

- Chris Williams

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Urrr riiiiiiight.

MyPS2 won't play Halo2 which is locked to only play on xbox. So I can sue right?

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re: This is OLD News

Chris,

I don't have to reread your article. I got it quite clearly the first time. This article is quite the opposite of bad news, you say? How? I realize you did not report the original news but it has been my experience that The Register recycles non-positive Apple news days after it has been reported. Why?

As far as punishing yourself, whatever turns you on, pal.

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Fanboi Alert

'You guys at the Register seem to hate Apple'

Try again, try 'You guys at the Register seem to like taking a poke at all vaguely IT related companies'

Closer to the truth than your Apple fueled paranoia

Dont get it ? Get out of the kitchen.

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Here is Steve Jobs public letter dated Feb. 6, 2007 on Music DRM

Here is Steve Jobs public letter dated Feb. 6, 2007

<http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic>

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: re: This is OLD News

<pedant>

I didn't say the article is the opposite of bad news for Apple. I said the article did the opposite of giving the impression that we think it is bad news. The opposite of giving an impression is not giving an impression.

</pedant>

To reiterate: the tone of it makes it clear that I think it likely the suit has no merit. The point of interest stems from the fact that the dominant company in any market are often subject of similar litigation attempts in the US. This is a particularly lame attempt, and worth highlighting for Reg readers because Apple is part of the IT industry.

As for it being "OLD news" in your view, most Reg readers don't study Apple fan blogs with quite the same assiduousness as I suspect you do.

Now let us never speak of it again.

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@JJIrons

<< I don't have to reread your article. I got it quite clearly the first time. >>

But clearly you didn't. You decided the article was slagging off Apple - and went off on one accordingly - when it obviously wasn't. The article seemed - to me, at least - to be addressing the foolhardiness of the woman's case, and in fact was remarkably restrained (far more restrained than most of the subsequent comments, certainly) in terms of passing judgement on Apple itself.

Might be an idea to learn to relax a little, there.

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