Apple requests iTunes monopoly lawsuit be dropped

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Apple has requested that a federal judge dismiss an anticompetition lawsuit against the Cupertino, California-based company, which seeks to prove that Apple limited consumers’ choice with the use of proprietary software placed on its downloads, reports Bloomberg.

The lawsuit, started in 2005, claims that Apple stifled competition with an update made to its FairPlay DRM, a proprietary software, in July 2004, which prevented music downloaded through other services from working on its iPod devices. The update was launched just days after RealNetworks Inc boasted that songs from its Harmony online store could be played on iPods.

Apple’s legal counsel, Robert Mittelstaedt, argues that the restrictions on which music worked with iPods are not anticompetitive, but were imposed as a quality-control measure.

“Apple’s view is that iPods work better when consumers use the iTunes jukebox rather than third party software that can cause corruption or other problems,” Mittelstaedt said during a court hearing.

To backup its claims, Apple cited 58 consumer complaints as the reason for its decision to update iPods to not work with other companies’ downloads. US District Judge James Ware, to whom Apple made its dismissal request, asked whether Apple had conducted any scientific tests to confirm the dangers of allowing downloads from other sources. Apple said it had not.

Last month, a separate judge, Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd, ordered that Apple CEO Steve Jobs submit to questioning in the case. Apple eventually agreed, with the stipulations that  Jobs not be asked about any matters outside of the 2004 iPod update, and not exceed more than two hours. Jobs came in for questioning on April 12.

As of March 2009, music sold on iTunes no longer comes loaded with restrictive proprietary software.

Judge Ware said he would decide whether or not to dismiss the case by May.

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