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US: How Apple’s decade-old iPod case could alter digital media rights today

 |  October 6, 2014

While the iPod is slowly losing its once mighty grip on the market thanks to booming innovation and newer iPhone models, a decade-old antitrust lawsuit surrounding the iPod could have significant effects on the current digital media market.

According to reports, the 2004 lawsuit accusing Apple of anticompetitive conduct is headed to trial. Filed by Real Networks, the case accuses Apple of violating antitrust rules with its iTunes store and digital rights management technology related to its iPod products.

Digital rights management, known as DRM, is a way to combat piracy as it allows users to play digital media content only on certain platforms, in this case, iTunes. Real Networks attempted to bypass these restrictions by embedding its media files with a feature that allowed them to be played on iTunes. But, as the suit alleges, an Apple iTunes software update blocked that feature from working.

By blocking that feature, Real Networks argues that Apple increased “the cost of switching from iPods to competing portable digital media players by eliminating the ability of consumers to collect a library of downloads that could be played on all players.”

With a trial set for next month, experts say that while the iPod is soon to be long-gone, the implications of the case are very current. Reports say such DRM restrictions are still present in the eBook, movie and television industries, which could see changes depending on how the case plays out.

Full content: Wall Street Cheat Sheet

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