back to article Apple WINS iPod antitrust fight, jury nixes BILLION-dollar payout bid

Apple has prevailed in an almost decade-long antitrust legal battle over the way its iPod gadgets handled music not obtained through iTunes. A federal jury in Oakland, California, took just four hours to clear the iThings maker of wrongdoing – and tossed out calls for a $351m compensation package for eight million owners of …

  1. Mike VandeVelde
    Alert

    copyright violation = theft

    Would you look at that, an actual case involving intellectual property that can actually be called theft - copies were actually removed from someone. But apparently that's fine.

    1. John Molloy

      Re: copyright violation = theft

      Theoretical theft. If you purchased from any store that didn't use reverse engineered DRM then nothing was removed. Heaven's sake. The lawyers couldn't find anyone to argue that they had lost anything. What does that tell you? It was a legal hunting party that failed and failed bad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: copyright violation = theft

        @JM from the Merriam Webster.

        Theft :

        a : The act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it .

        b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property.

        Not such an easy thing to perform "theoretically".

        1. kainp121

          Re: copyright violation = theft

          "a : The act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it " Thats true in the UK but in the US theft is taking some thing you don't have the right to. Intent to deprive is not worded in there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: copyright violation = theft

            No, the dictionary used was American. Felony, larceny etc. disappeared from English and Welsh law at the latest in 1968 (probably before that). Only USA still lives in the late Middle Ages.

            England and Wales, from memory, the legal definition:

            "Theft is the appropriation of property belonging to another, with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. It is not theft if ...."

            I can not remember the precise wording of the three exceptions. But they amount to, an honest belief that one had a right to the property, or had made reasonable efforts, unsuccessfully, to tind the owner or - I've forgotten. At least, that was in the 1968 Theft Act.

            That is why, for taking a car there is a specific offence of Taking and Driving Away, because, if the car is dumped so that the owner could retrieve it, it is not permanent deprivation.

        2. John Molloy

          Re: copyright violation = theft

          @ AC who called me out with the definition of theft.

          Here's the thing.

          At that time you could not download anything directly to the iPods in question.

          So you would have had a local copy of the file on your local machine.

          Apple deleted the copy on the iPod - the "theoretically" was referring to the fact that even the legal eagles that were suing Apple couldn't produce anyone who was actually effected by the issue - but the original file on the personal computer was still there.

          So where was the theft?

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: copyright violation = theft

      Just a copy was removed. They still owned the track, and if they kept another copy (or logged in to Real's site and downloaded it again) they could burn it to CD. Once on CD they could freely bring it into iTunes. The case was never about Apple preventing competition, only preventing the competition from hacking their DRM to load DRM tracks directly onto the iPod via iTunes. If this case was upheld the people jailbreaking their iPhones could sue Apple if they closed the security holes used to jailbreak, does that make any sense?

      Basically it was just a law firm looking for a big payday, instead they've spent a lot of money and got nothing, which is more than they deserve. I hope Apple sues for its legal fees and bankrupts them so they can't roll the dice again with someone else.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: copyright violation = theft

      According to Apple's lawyers, the plaintiffs haven't actually found anyone who actually lost a single song. And Apple didn't delete any songs, they re-formatted iPods that had been messed up by the plaintiffs' hacked software. If you had music on your iPod only with no other copies (like on your computer, or a backup copy), and you lost it through theft of the device, hardware error, or because a hacked and damaged device got reformatted, that was your own fault. But the plaintiffs didn't actually show anyone who that happened to.

  2. DougS Silver badge

    In other news

    The appellate court heard Apple's appeal of the e-book case yesterday, and court watchers say it looks like two of the three judges appeared to be looking very favorably upon Apple's case based on their questions and comments.

    While this iPod case was obviously bogus from the start, the ebook one is going to upset a lot more people if it is overturned. One judge even hinted that she thought the government had taken action against the wrong company (i.e. Amazon)

  3. Thomas Wolf

    is it time for AAPL to sue for legal costs?

    I hope AAPL now sues these lawyers for legal fees. Would send a signal to all the ambulance chasers out there.

  4. asdf Silver badge

    hmm

    Nice to see the courts are keeping up with the technology in the marketplace. If they would have taken a few more years the media would have had to explain what an iPod was to the younger readers. Of course longer cases mean possibly more billable hours. That is what law is really about.

  5. DesktopGuy

    wrong target - Apple had the money but not the obligation

    Surely the lawsuit should have been targeted at Real.

    They sold tracks wrapped in a reverse engineered DRM they did not have licence to use.

    The tracks sold therefore never had any guarantee from Apple it was interoperable with the iPod.

    1. Paw Bokenfohr

      Re: wrong target - Apple had the money but not the obligation

      Wrong target if you're thinking about things logically from a legal or technical point of view.

      But the lawyers weren't; they were thinking about who had the deepest pockets to make any possible win worth while.

  6. pdq3

    ...and to think that it only took ten years...two weeks...and three hours to settle this thorny question.

  7. Blitterbug
    Facepalm

    So let me get this straight...

    Disclaimer: I own and like various Apple products.

    But the 'smoking gun' email from Jobs stating flatly that Apple must find a way to crush any attempt to sync legally purchased music from other vendors (Specifically Real Networks) was just ignored?

    I'm serious here; I just don't understand.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: So let me get this straight...

      Because that's not illegal. They did what Jobs said, yes, but in doing so they secured their DRM that was broken by Real to allow it to load onto the iPod, and made other improvements to iTunes as well.

      Apple did not have a monopoly on music players, or online music sales. Apple didn't prevent anyone from loading music purchased from anywhere onto the iPod, they only prevented loading music encumbered with their proprietary DRM that they didn't license to others onto the iPod. Everyone was free to burn music purchased from Real, Microsoft or whoever onto a C (or buying a CD from the music store, back when they had those) load it into iTunes, and then onto the iPod.

      Claiming "they made the process slightly more difficult" is a real stretch for a $350 million class action suit!

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: So let me get this straight...

      They didn't try to crush attempts to sync legally purchased music. I have plenty of music from Amazon and other places that syncs just fine, no problem. What they crushed was syncing music that had hacked DRM attached to them. For my Amazon music, the iPod says: This is an mp3 file. That's fine. Somewhere in the comments of the file it says it was purchased from Amazon. Well, that's fine as well. I'lll play it. For Realnetworks music, the iPod says: This is an AAC file with Apple's FairPlay DRM. Let's have a closer look. No, this isn't actually FairPlay. It looks a bit like FairPlay, but it isn't. I think someone is trying to hack this device. I better tell the computer that I'm hacked and that it should reformat me.

  8. naive

    Apple just got a free pass to remove files from their devices without consequence

    free advice: If you have important data, do not store it on apple devices, since some smart ass in Cupertino might see reasons to remove them.

    1. John Molloy

      Re: Apple just got a free pass to remove files from their devices without consequence

      Certainly better than the first gen Fire devices from Amazon, that just deleted "unofficial" content with no warning. After a week of "ownership" it got sent back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple just got a free pass to remove files from their devices without consequence

      Man cleared of murder => all murder legal!

  9. Ol' Grumpy
    Coat

    I'm still in shock over Apple talking to el Reg!

    "Apple told The Register in a statement following the verdict today."

    1. Ian 55

      Well, they did lie

      "Every time we've updated those products — and every Apple product over the years — we’ve done it to make the user experience even better.”

      Does anyone believe that?

  10. Gis Bun

    So let me get this straight: Apple can remove music from someone's iTunes if it wasn't bought through iTunes? What's next? Apple will only allow software bought from apple to be installed on a Mac?

    "I bought Office for the Mac for $500 and OS X removed it automatically."

  11. Shane Sturrock

    It was all the fault of the music industry

    As I predicted while this case was going on, it all came down to the contract with the music labels who were insisting on the DRM. They required that Apple ensure the security of the system and since Real was able to reverse engineer it the software wasn't secure so that had to be fixed. Jobs specifically said he didn't like DRM and pressured the industry to drop it. He won, and we all won. You can buy music from iTunes and play it anywhere you please now, and they even improved the quality.

    If only the movie and TV industry would figure this out and I wouldn't have to buy my Blu rays and rip them to get a version that plays on everything because they're pushing UltraViolet which sucks massively (have you seen the picture quality of their so called HD versions, let alone the SD ones?) It is good to get iTunes codes but even then I typically rip my own copy. I don't share these, I just want a version that is a decent resolution and bit rate. I don't play the Blu rays often despite having 4 players now simply because they take so long to start up when I can just go to my Apple TVs on one of the TVs in the house and fire up the movie or show I'm interested in and it knows where I got to, what I've watched and so on. Discs are a great way to purchase high quality versions though so I'm not too fussed about the current state of play but really, UV is appalling and the hoops necessary just to redeem the code are maddening.

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