Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been ordered to answer questions from lawyers for a group of consumers accusing the company of creating a music-download monopoly with its iTunes and iPod tie-up. The case dates back to 2005 and centers around Apple's use of the FairPlay encryption technology, and allegations that an iPod software update in October 2004 specifically made the devices incompatible with songs from RealNetworks' music store -- jus five days after it launched.
FairPlay limited the playing of iTunes songs to iPods and at the same time made it so that songs purchased elsewhere using their own copy-preventing encryption couldn't be played on an iPod. Apple says the software change was a measure against piracy, stopping users from making unauthorized copies of tracks, but plaintiffs contend that it allowed the company to have dual monopolies in the markets for digital media players and audio downloads.
To be fair some of those restrictions may have come -- at least to some degree -- at the request of music companies worried about file sharing. If you recall, Apple was one of the main driving forces behind the abolition of DRM
, and users have always been able to copy their own ripped songs from CDs into iTunes and move that music onto their iPods.
According to Bloomberg
, the deposition canít exceed two hours and the only topic allowed is changes Apple made to its software in October 2004. The plaintiffs had hoped to question Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple since January, on other related matters such as Apple's decision not to license its FairPlay technology to other companies.