iTunes antitrust case goes Apple’s way

The nearly decade-long antitrust case went Apple’s way on Tuesday when an 8-member jury in Oakland, California decided after just three hours that the upgrade to iTunes 7.0 was aimed at improving the music-playing software rather than blocking files from rival providers from iPods.

Although the case was brought against Apple nearly ten years ago, the trial to determine whether Apple’s update undermined consumer choice by blocking music from rival stores being played on iPods, started only two weeks ago.

The upgrade added several features to iTunes, including album art and video, but also disabled the device if the software detected files that reverse-engineered its DRM software FairPlay.

In order to get their iPods working again, owners had to reset their devices to factory settings, which wiped out music that had been downloaded from non-Apple providers.

The class action suit, which could have cost Apple from $350 million to $1 billion, sought to compensate 8 million iPod owners.

Steve Jobs

The trial included videoed testimony by the late Steve Jobs, an Apple co-founder.

According to MacWorld, Apple said in a prepared statement:

“We thank the jury for their service and we applaud their verdict. We created iPod and iTunes to give our customers the world’s best way to listen to music. 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.”

The plaintiffs (accusers) say they plan to appeal at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorney representing the plaintiffs, Patrick Coughlin, said the jury should have been allowed to separate out the software updates that prevented cross-provider listening from other changes that were made as iTunes and iPods were updated.

Mr. Coughlin said:

“We think that the other product ‘improvements’ should have been separated out. I think it was almost impossible for the jury to just consider the whole thing.”