Apple serves blog with takedown notice over posting iTunes Radio contract

iTunes Radio (teaser, iPod touch, iPad, MacBook Air, Apple TV)

Most of Apple’s legal actions happen with other multi-billion tech firms. But sometime, the Cupertino, California company likes to scare to scare the pants off small fry. Take for example Digital Music News (DMN), which Sunday yielded to demands by Apple, removing a copy of an iTunes Radio contract.

The contract, first published by DMN in June, showed how Apple “forced sub-standard terms” on independent music publishers. Apple claimed publication of the contract violated copyright laws, a claim one law professor described as “a jerk move.”

Was Apple protecting copyrights or again using legal muscle to manage its corporate image?

“It’s just kind of a jerk move,” Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman told the Verge.

“We all know what’s happening here. Apple doesn’t care about protecting the copyright of contracts. It’s using copyright to try and suppress information that it doesn’t want made public,” Goldman said.

The contract, which DMN published in June, “was specifically for independent, non-major labels that did not strike directly-negotiated, higher-rate deals with Apple,” the site recently wrote. In it, Apple contracts “forced sub-standard terms” on smaller-independent music publishers, the news site claims.

Because of DMN’s small size, there was no court challenge to test Apple’s claim versus First Amendment rights. While Goldman acknowledged the demand is “not out of legal bounds,” the iPhone maker likely knew the news site could not defend itself, thus its demand would be unchallenged.

As The Verge notes, “Apple doesn’t often use these heavy-handed tactics when The New York Times or other prominent news organizations get scoops.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has jumped on small news sites. In 2007, ThinkSecret, a blog that broke product scoop after product scoop, was forced to shut its doors after Apple took 13-year-old Nicholas Ciarelli to court.

iTunes Radio (three-up, iPhone 5)

Yes, Apple sued a kid just barely in his teens.

Then, Apple had police searching for a lost iPhone prototype that landed on the pages of tech blog Gizmodo. Although the publication claimed it purchased the prototype for $5,000 from the man who had supposedly found the device, the handset was returned to Apple following a series of public negotiations.

Uncertain is whether Apple will go after the Australia teenager who leaked photos of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c before they were officially introduced. Publicly, company marketing head Phil Schiller has said such unplanned photos are “cool.”

However, we’re not sure whether Apple’s legal team are on the same page.