Apple Deleted iPod Owners' Songs Downloaded From Competing Music Services Between 2007 and 2009
Between 2007 and 2009, Apple stealthily deleted content that iPod owners had downloaded from rival music services, reports The Wall Street Journal. The information came to light during an ongoing class action iPod lawsuit that Apple is fighting in court this week, where the Cupertino company is accused of having violated antitrust law by locking its original iPods to the iTunes ecosystem.
According to plaintiff attorney Patrick Coughlin, a user who downloaded music from a competing music service to iTunes and then tried to sync the content to an iPod would receive a nondescript error message. The vague message would advise the iPod owner to restore the device to its factory settings, deleting the music that had been downloaded from a rival service and preventing it from being played.
Apple security director Augustin Farrugia defended the vague error message, stating that Apple didn't want to "confuse users" by providing them with too much information. Farrugia also said the company's efforts to delete music acquired from third-party sources was done in an effort to protect consumers from hackers and malicious content.
Yesterday, lawyers for the plaintiffs shared both a videotaped deposition and emails written by Steve Jobs as evidence that Apple had deliberately stymied competing music services after the launch of the iPod. In the correspondence, the former Apple CEO hatched a plan to accuse competing music service RealNetworks of hacking the iPod when it offered song downloads that could be played on the device.
The class action lawsuit began on Tuesday of this week and is being heard in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. Both Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and iTunes chief Eddy Cue are expected to testify during the court proceedings.