Apple responds to (mostly scoffs at) music monopoly complaint

Apple responds to (mostly scoffs at) music monopoly complaint

Summary: If Apple responds to Cisco's iPhone trademark complaint by calling it "silly" one can only imagine how the company would handle respond to a class action suit alleging a digital music monopoly. Imagine no more.

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TOPICS: Apple
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If Apple responds to Cisco's iPhone trademark complaint by calling it "silly" one can only imagine how the company would handle respond to a class action suit alleging a digital music monopoly.

Imagine no more. The response is almost comical in its ease of legal cutting and pasting.

As reported on January 2, Apple may have a music monopoly issue on its hands due to a class action suit (Tucker vs. Apple Computer) that alleges that the company dominates and controls digital music.

In the complaint (PDF download), the plaintiffs say:

"Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice and restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets. Apple's CEO Steve Jobs has himself compared Apple's digital music dominance to Microsoft's personal computer operating system dominance."

Apple's response (PDF download) to the complaint went through paragraph by paragraph and said:

Apple is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations, and therefore denies them.

or

The allegations are not susceptible to being answered because of their ambiguity.

or

To the extent that an answer is deemed necessary, Apple
denies the allegations.

I'm no lawyer, but the translation appears to be: "You're wasting our time with this." And just to make the point a little stronger, Apple used those aforementioned statements to respond to damn near every paragraph of the complaint. Wonder what the billable hours were for that cut and paste job?

[poll id=42] 

Of course there were "revelations" in Apple's complaint, which include:

--"Apple admits that it operates the iTunes Store (f/k/a the iTunes Music Store), that the iTunes Store can be accessed through the iTunes application, and that users may purchase and download digital music and digital video files from the iTunes Store."

--"Apple admits that consumers may buy individual songs from its iTunes Store and that the iTunes Store currently offers over 3.5 million songs."

--"Apple admits that at a November 5, 2003 financial analyst meeting, Steve Jobs’ response, in part, to a question included the phrase “. . . we are working with the Microsoft of music stores . . . .”

--"Apple admits that the iPod uses parts manufactured by third parties and that it has used the Portal Player System-On-A-Chip in some versions of its iPod. Apple lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to whether the Portal Player System-On-A-Chip supports WMA by default, and therefore denies that allegation. Apple denies that it deliberately designed the iPod’s software so that it would only play protected AAC."

--"Apple lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to whether every Digital Music Player other than the iPod that contains the SigmaTel STMP3550 plays WMA files, and therefore denies that allegation. Apple denies that it prevents the iPod Shuffle from playing WMA files."

--And this barnburner: "Apple admits that it is headquartered in Cupertino, California."

Of those, the comments about iPod Shuffle-WMA and the Portal Player, which was acquired by Nvidia, were interesting. Both should create some serious acronym headaches for jurors should this spat ever proceed.

Topic: Apple

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41 comments
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  • DRM won't stand up under a legal attack

    This is the shot across the bow of DRM purveyors everywhere. C.R.A.P. should NOT be tolerated! Maybe this will start a flurry of activity around making a universal DRM that actually WORKS. The biggest (non-technical) hurdle is convincing the RIAA/MPAA that they must sell RIGHTS TO USE instead of selling MEDIA. This will end the upgrade buzzsaw that consumers have faced every time a new format comes out. If you have the rights, then it is EASY to PROVE that you own a copy of a product legally. It would also be CHEAPER - as selling virtual property doesn't require much infrastructure.
    Roger Ramjet
  • WMA??

    Last I checked, you had to license the ability to play WMA files on a device from microsoft, I doubt MS would license it to Apple whom is their key competitor in the digital music player business.

    Also, on the complaint that apple has locked music purchased from the iTunes Music Store to the iPod does not make sense. Their deal with the RIAA requires them to have DRM implanted in the music that is sold. This requires that the player has the ability to play it. It also allows them to change the DRM if it was broken to an extent that required them to change it. It also helps to protect that encryption so that it does to fall into the hands of the masses.

    So while Apple is dominating the digital music store business at this time, I do not feel that this suit has much ground to stand on. Some points they make are valid, but over all I feel this lawsuit was written by somebody whom does not understand the technology involved.
    Stuka
    • Actually...

      [i]Last I checked, you had to license the ability to play WMA files on a device from
      microsoft, I doubt MS would license it to Apple whom is their key competitor in
      the digital music player business.[/i]

      I believe they (MS) would. Once iPods were selling with the .wma license, Microsoft
      would unilaterally change the license (see antitrust trial AOl's testimony). Also MS
      would insist on the "non assertion of patents" clause. This would allow Microsoft
      to make "knock off" iPods that would work with the ITMS and Apple would have no
      injunctive relief. Meaning the zune would play both ITMS and zune only files while
      the iPod would be denied access to the zune only store. Thus allowing Microsoft
      to leverage it's monopoly into the digital content market.
      Rick_K
  • Understanding Monopoly

    This is idiotic. The well beaten dogs operating under the yoke of Microsofts real
    monopoly are projecting their impotence and reacting with anger to an Apple
    monopoly? Where is the coercive license here? Where are the barriers to entry?
    Where is monopoly maintenance? In a world where most music is on CD, most
    downloadable music is stolen, and most iPod songs are mp3's, I think another
    ZDNet payroll monkey has confused monopoly with a simple value proposition.

    In a market where Apple wins on merit, Microsoft, a competitor with a massive
    cash hoard, and a staggering tech market share inertia was not prevented from
    competing with the Apple silo (3 times). It did it first with the "choice" mantra.
    Then they corralled the rest of the players into "Plays for Sure". Finally they
    parroted Apples integrated model, betrayed their PfS partners, painted a Toshiba
    brown, and wrote yet more crappy software for it. Apple can do many things, but
    it can't make Microsoft suck less. When will you folks understand that the license
    is not the solution but the problem. When will you "get" that the product is
    software, not hardware. Plays for Sure was the real monopoly move, it just didn't
    work. The reason it didn't work? Because consumers embraced real choice for the
    first time.

    What "choice" does our contributor have. His career and reputation depend on the
    thin premise that his virtue stems from his endorsement of "open" architecture
    and the ad dollars that flow from it. He's happy to live in a closed software
    ecosystem though, and doesn't see the incongruity. ZDNet is where Windows IT
    comes to have it's head patted and the notion that open architecture is a red
    herring, is simply considered a thought crime around here.

    Here's a clue folks. The real choice exists in the marketplace not within the
    platform. This is true regardless of platform. Integrating within the platforms is
    not the issue. Torpedoing other platforms is.
    Harry Bardal
    • Here, tell me if I'm correct

      I did not read your post, Harry:

      Apple is fair and true as everything they do is well above board.

      Microsoft, somehow, is the villain here as they can't compete fairly, so they instigated this.

      Anyone who doesn't see this is too stupid to understand anything, so that's why they use MS products as they are mindless sheep.

      Was I close?
      John Zern
      • You don't understand the word "monopoly"!

        If the music sold through the iTunes store is just a tiny fraction of all music CDs sold
        and of all illegal copies of Mp3-music out there then where is the iTunes monopoly?

        ZDNet/CNet lost all their credibility long ago.
        Mikael_z
      • On Harry's behalf...

        ...(not that I know the gentleman...) no, you are not correct.

        <p>I'm not a Mac guy--I've never owned, or even used, any Apple hardware of any kind, and I'm well old enough to remember the introduction of the first Macintosh. And for a good number of years I supported the FSF position against Apple for its "look and feel" lawsuits. "Apple is fair and true as everything they do is well above board." is not a sentiment to which I subscribe--they're a corporation, and most corporations seem to subscribe in varying degrees to the Machiavellian philosophy that ethics, however prized in individuals, are irrelevant to collective endeavors.

        <p>That said, "Microsoft, somehow, is the villain here as they can't compete fairly..." is a sentiment to which I <i>do</i> subscribe--I and a couple of continents and a number of US states. Microsoft, as a matter of corporate policy, has repeatedly asserted that, at least, it's less expensive to abuse their near-monopoly than it is to compete fairly. And their near-monopoly is certainly, if viewed objectively, not a result of the quality of their products--Windows, by any criterion, isn't twenty times better than OS X or Linux, and by most objective criteria of which I'm aware, is of <i>poorer</i> quality.

        <p>As to why people continue to use Microsoft products, I'm sure there are many reasons. And if people <i>want</i> to use Microsoft products, for whatever reason, that's their business. The problem is that Microsoft has, over and over again, taken steps to deny people the choice to use anything <i>but</i> Microsoft products. That's not just my opinion, that's the finding of a good number of courts of law.

        <p>It is difficult for me to understand why people defend Microsoft. If you like Windows, fine--your prerogative, even if I don't understand <i>that</i> either. But translating that into a defense of Microsoft's predatory, monopolistic, practices and their eagerness to use that monopoly--rather than compete honestly on the merits of their products--seems, to me, to stretch the bounds of reason.
        Henrik Moller
        • I'll defend all

          and throw my 2 cents in for anybody I feel is getting raw press for whatever reason, be it Apple, MS, Linux, whoever.

          I just get tired sometimes that when a good discussion does arise, you get the same people spinning the stories to suit their needs to the point that you no longer have to read them to know what they are going to say.

          That's all.
          John Zern
          • BTW

            I did not see Microsoft in the article as a complainent. And from what I'm reading here on ZDNet and other places, MS is doing something different with their subscription which had authors pondering if it would force Apple to schange their subscription service.

            So why would MS be the villain here?
            John Zern
        • Marketing?

          You said:"And their near-monopoly is certainly, if viewed objectively, not a result of the quality of their products--Windows, by any criterion, isn't twenty times better than OS X or Linux, and by most objective criteria of which I'm aware, is of poorer quality."
          I say: The last ad that I saw come from Apple consisted of two idiots standing side-by-side and one (Apple) insulting the other with ambiguitous "I am better than you are" remarks. How does that compete with MS? MS puts their product out there with marketing genius. I would agree that MS is not 10 times better than Apple or linux, but their corporate structure is phenominal. I don't pretend to know what goes on, behind the scenes at either company, but neither do any of you.
          kodakmak
    • Mike Cox eloquently makes fun of . . .

      and satirically disparages . . .

      Harry Bardal systematically destroys and utterly repudiates.

      Too bad that those 5% [of the "95%" so-frequently-quoted as using Windows variants] whose mortgage payments and bandwidth depend on their IT/MCSE "guru" status are too blind to see the truth.

      "Hello, hello! Is it dark in there?"

      Harry, you da' man. But they can't hear you with their heads up their asses.
      brian ansorge
  • Jobs will be learning a new word now: iSUE!

    One M$-like company is bad enough. We don't need another..

    Quit trying to play the market like Bill Gates....
    Old Timer 8080
    • Here today gone tommorow

      I don't see Apple as having a Monopoly here. It's the Music industry with the Monopoly. They are just using Apple as the most effective DRM provider. At any time the Major Music labels could pull licensing from Apple's I-Tunes and hand those same less restrictive DRM options to say Zune for example. Apple survives in the music distribution game at the will of the music industry. Apple is not the Monopoly the music industry is. They can pick a choose who to they want to grant licensing terms that make for the best selling music in terms of DRM restrictions.

      Sure the music industry can license to anyone but they don't have to license fairly to everyone. They could license to one like Apple with far less restriction than to another service. This gives Apple the edge but only because the music industry choose them. Apple has no control here other thier ability to beg and plead with the music industry like the rest of the services out there.

      So Apple has no monopoly what so ever. Next contract they could be gone in the blink of an eye.
      voska
      • Here Here!

        First intelligent thing I've read on this blog!
        kodakmak
  • Again, WRONG voting options!

    There should be an option that says "All Music Download Services Have A Monopoly".

    Because it's true.

    Microsoft locks you into Zune. Apple locks you into iTunes. The rest lock you into PlaysForSure(Maybe).

    The only valid resolution to all this is either a) drop this DRM bs and get on with business or b) develop a standard based DRM where any DEVICE (period) can play any media any person purchases and owns. Wherever they want, whenever they want. After all, a person DOES pay for this stuff. They should have a right to use it.

    In it's current form, ALL of the services are extorsion.
    BitTwiddler
    • magnatune.com

      No DRM.
      Henrik Moller
      • RE: magnatune.com

        Darn, you beat me to it. :-) It is always
        amusing to see people claiming Apple locks you
        into iTunes. The iTunes program is free and I can
        use it to manage my CD ripping, LP conversions
        and music from other sources such as
        Magnatune. I fail to see how this is a monopoly.
        Protagonistic
        • Failure...

          [b]The iTunes program is free and I can use it to manage my CD ripping, LP conversions and music from other sources such as
          Magnatune. I fail to see how this is a monopoly. [/b]

          Ok.. But when it comes to plugging in a device OTHER than an iPod or a Motorola ROKR, or, presumably an iPhone (or whatever they're going to call it when it's officially released). Can you sync said music collection to say, a Creative Zen? Or any other non-ITMS based device?
          Wolfie2K3
          • Yes, of course

            ---But when it comes to plugging in a device OTHER than an iPod or a Motorola ROKR, or, presumably an iPhone (or whatever they're going to call it when it's officially released). Can you sync said music collection to say, a Creative Zen? Or any other non-ITMS based device?---

            Sure thing. Rip your collection as mp3 files. You've got a hard drive full of mp3's. You can access those files via iTunes for your iPod, or through all sorts of other software for your other devices. iTunes doesn't stop your songs from being used elsewhere. As an example, I use SlimServer to send my music collection wirelessly to my stereo using a Squeezebox. The SlimServer software is open source, and it actually goes into iTunes and picks up on your playlists, so you can use them outside of iTunes.
            tic swayback
  • Hmmm...for once somebody else has a monopoly

    WTG Apple! I guess people are tired of crying about Microsnot's monopoly, shame, it's still alive and kicking (hopefully not for much longer). :-l
    Linux_Fanboy