Apple did not harm consumers with iTunes’ FairPlay digital rights management, ruling finds

Steve Jobs video deposition iPod trial (drawing 001)

Apple’s proprietary digital rights management software, FairPlay, that prevented users from loading songs from rival music stores on early iPods, did not harm consumers nor did it violate the United States antitrust laws, an eight-person jury has determined.

As reported by The Verge, the jurors have sided with Apple in a decade-long suit and have not found Apple guilty of exploiting FairPlay DRM as a lock-in preventing rival music stores from syncing with iPods. Though the iPhone maker is off the hook now, an appeal will be filed with a higher court.

“We thank the jury for their service and awe applaud their verdict,“ said layers representing Apple.

CNBC reports that the attorney of the plaintiffs will be filing papers for an appeal to a higher court within the next thirty days.

A video deposition by Steve Jobs revealed that Apple was asked by record labels to protect their music on the iTunes Store with DRM technologies or risk breaking its distribution contracts with the music industry.

Repeated attempts by Real Networks whose Harmony software circumvented FairPlay were described by Apple executives in court documents as hacks that needed plugging.

iPod silhouette ad (image 001)

The jury did not agree with the plaintiffs’ accusations that the iPod’s software deleted their music obtained from competing rival stores.

Jurors instead sided with Apple’s argument that removing non-iTunes tracks from iPods was to the benefit of the consumers, to protect their devices from security intrusions.

Furthermore, the movie constituted ensuring tight integration between the hardware (the iPod), the software (the iPod OS) and the service (iTunes and the iTunes Store), argued the Cupertino firm.

If desktop iTunes detected that a user’s iPod contained non-iTunes-compliant music, it would put up a prompt offering to delete those songs rather than remove them automatically.

The trial revealed that some of the plaintiffs didn’t actually have the iPods covered in the case at hand.

“We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world’s best way to listen to music,” Apple said in a statement. “Every time we’ve updated those products — and every Apple product over the years — we’ve done it to make the user experience even better.”

Following Steve Jobsć open letter to the music industry titled “Thoughts on Music” which criticized DRM, labels eventually warmed up to the idea of selling DRM-free songs on iTunes.

Nowadays, music on iTunes sells without DRM and as such can be easily transferred to other music players without any hassle.

[The Verge]