Apple accused of stifling streaming music competition as DOJ joins EC in antitrust investigation

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Allegations that Apple is engaging in anti-competitive practices in the run-up to the launch of its rebranded Beats streaming music service are now being investigated by the Department of Justice, according to “multiple sources” cited by The Verge.

The claim is that Apple has been attempting to use its influence to persuade music labels to pull out of deals with free, ad-supported services like Spotify and YouTube in order to reduce competition and increase demand for its own paid service. The European Commission launched an investigation into these same allegations last month …

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European antitrust authorities investigating Apple’s streaming music service even before it launches

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Apple’s planned rebranding and relaunch of the Beats streaming music service has not had the easiest of rides. The launch, initially planned for earlier this year, was delayed by the departure of key execs and difficulties integrating Beats and Apple technologies. A planned $5/month price-point had to be abandoned in favor of an attempt at $7.99/month when music labels wouldn’t play ball, and that too now looks increasingly unlikely even though Google Play offered initial All Access Signups for a $7.99 locked in. And any plans to offer artist exclusives as an inducement now face competition from newly-relaunched Tidal.

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher, London’s Financial Times reports that the European Commission is considering launching an antitrust investigation into the service, even before it launches. The Commission has contacted several music labels to ask what deals have been done with Apple, says the FT.

The commission, which also has contacted Apple’s music-streaming rivals, is said to be concerned that the company will use its size, relationships and influence to persuade labels to abandon free, ad-supported services such as Spotify, which depend on licenses with music companies for their catalogues.

The newspaper implies that the investigation may have been triggered by a formal complaint by an existing streaming music service …  Read more

Apple wins iPod & iTunes DRM antitrust case, jury decides

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Update — Apple’s statement via CNBC: “We thank the jury for their service and we applaud their verdict.”

A jury has decided that Apple is not guilty of violating antitrust laws in the decade-old lawsuit involving the iPod, iTunes Music Store, and digital rights management usage. The jury had to determine if the iTunes updates affecting customers’ iPods were “genuine product improvements” with Apple citing security concerns for implementing the usage of DRM. Read more

Jury begins deliberations in antitrust lawsuit over iPods, iTunes, and third-party music stores

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The class-action lawsuit against Apple over alleged anticompetitive behavior in how the iPod handled songs from third-party much stores is finally in the hands of a jury. Following last week’s final witness testimony, the jury has started deliberations in the decade-old case.

The evidence and testimony in this case have given us quite a bit of insight into the way Apple operated ten years ago with regards to its iPod and iTunes business. Former CEO Steve Jobs took jabs at rival Real Networks in a videotaped deposition (which the media wants the public to see, but Apple doesn’t). We also learned details of Apple’s contracts with record labels.

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Apple fighting media requests to air Steve Jobs deposition from iPod antitrust suit

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As we noted earlier today, several media outlets have filed a motion that would allow them to air the videotaped deposition of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that was played for jurors in the ongoing iPod antitrust lawsuit. Now the Verge reports that Apple is fighting back against the motion, with the company’s lawyers accusing the media of wanting to see “a dead man.”

As Apple attorney Jonathan Sherman put it:

The marginal value of seeing him again, in his black turtleneck — this time very sick — is small. What they want is a dead man, and they want to show him to the rest of the world, because it’s a judicial record.

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AP, Bloomberg and CNN file motion to allow them to broadcast Steve Jobs deposition video

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We may get to see the two-hour video of Steve Jobs giving pre-trial evidence in the iPod antitrust case, if the judge approves a motion jointly filed by AP, Bloomberg and CNN to make it public. CNET reported:

“Given the substantial public interest in the rare posthumous appearance of Steve Jobs in this trial, there simply is no interest that justifies restricting the public’s access to his video deposition,” attorney Thomas Burke, who is representing all three media organizations, wrote in the filing Monday

The video currently has the same status of live testimony given in the case, meaning that it can be reported on but the video cannot be broadcast …  Read more

Last plaintiff in iTunes antitrust lawsuit disqualified, but the show must go on as lawyers search for replacement

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In the latest twist in the iPod antitrust lawsuit that has already given us a deposition of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and details about Apple’s deal with record labels to sell music in the iTunes Store, a judge ruled on Monday that the trial will continue even though there are no plaintiffs left.

Yes, you read that correctly. Every single plaintiff in the case has been disqualified. Marianna Rosen, the last complainant standing, was discovered to have never purchased an iPod that was affected by the song-deleting software updates in question.

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Apple questions whether iPod class action suit can proceed as case may lack genuine plaintiffs

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Just as it looked like the iPod-related class action suit against Apple was getting interesting, Eddy Cue arguing that competing music stores had effectively hacked the iPod, it now seems the case is in danger of collapsing.

Apple’s lawyers have written to the judge to say there is no evidence that either of the two plaintiffs owned iPods during the time affected by Apple’s action to remove non-iTunes songs from iPods …  Read more

iPod-related class action suit against Apple starts tomorrow, Steve Jobs emails & video key evidence

This case goes back a while ...

This case goes back a while …

Emails and a video deposition by Steve Jobs are likely to form key elements of the evidence in an iPod-related antitrust case against Apple which opens in California tomorrow, reports the NYT.

The case goes back more than a decade, to the time when iPods would play only music purchased from iTunes or ripped from CD, with consumers unable to play music bought from competing stores. The class action alleges that this amounted to anti-competitive behaviour, and that consumers were forced to pay higher prices as a result …  Read more

Apple’s request to remove court-appointed ebooks antitrust monitor rejected

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A motion by Apple to halt the operations of a court-appointed antitrust monitor has been rejected, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lawyer, Michael Bromwich, was appointed by the court to ensure the compliance Apple’s iBook platform with antitrust laws. Apple previously petitioned the court to have Bromwich removed from his post, believing that his $1,100/hour legal fees were leading him to take undue investigative steps solely for the purpose of overcharging the Cupertino company.

Bromwich was temporarily taken off of Apple’s case, but subsequently returned to continue his duties. Apple then accused Bromwich of going beyond his legal authority and requested once again that he be removed from the company’s case. Today the court ruled that Apple’s request would have resulted in Bromwich being unable to execute his legal duties, and thus rejected the injunction.

The full ruling is embedded below:

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Apple granted temporary relief from external monitor in ebooks antitrust dispute

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In what is quickly becoming the next big ongoing back and forth between Apple and [insert third party here] of 2014, a new development has unfolded in the antitrust dispute over Apple’s iBooks practices. Michael Bromwich, the external monitor assigned to ensure Apple complies to antitrust laws relating to its iBooks program, has been temporarily removed, Reuters reports, following an “administrative stay” granted to Apple following a recent complaint filed by the Cupertino tech company against the attorney.

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