back to article Dead Steve Jobs to give iPod MP3 evidence from beyond the grave

Steve Jobs will descend from the Genius Bar in the sky to appear as a witness in an antitrust case brought against Apple. The iPhone giant's late cofounder will star in a video deposition in a class-action case relating to the iTunes store. Proceedings will hinge around the fact early iPods only allowed fanbois and gurlz to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business is war, as Jack Tramiel used to say.

    This is why the big US firms dominate everything, it's seen as a battle and every enemy needs to be defeated. Only when one side is losing do they open up and form alliances with other "losers".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As mentioned elsewhere...@AC

      Better read the "Art of War" by Sun Tzu. Business IS Battle, always was and always will be.

      THAT came from the Chinese, not America.

      Second place is first loser. When it comes to music, Microsoft was a lot more "Open" than Apple was. As long as you have a Codec, you can handle almost any media file on Windows.

      1. Tom 35

        Microsoft was a lot more "Open" than Apple

        See PlaysForSure

        They were open, until they decided they wanted to own things and cut their partners/customers legs off and went Zune.

  2. Darryl

    Gee. $350 million? Apple execs might have to dig through the cushions of more than one couch to come up with that kind of money.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Instead of video footage of Mr Jobs...

    ...Couldn't they get Disney to knock-up an 'Animatronic' version of him and sync the audio with the marionette? Would look awesome in the witness box as well as Apples boardroom and foyer!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Instead of video footage of Mr Jobs...

      Or get Tom Hanks!

  4. Steve Todd

    More to do with

    Preventing competitors from hacking in to Apple's FairPlay DRM system. They could sell un-DRMed music and the iPod could play MP3 and MP4/AAC, as well as WAV format, added to a user's iTunes library without problems.

    If they wanted to sell DRM'd music that would play on the iPod they had to resort to tricks and hacks to get that to work, and being blocked from doing that is what they are claiming was uncompetitive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More to do with

      Remember the tape based "Walkman"? If I played a tape in Sony's official "Walkman", did that stop me from playing the same tape in a Panasonic?

      Apple never gave a shit about the consumer. They only slung the DRM scheme to convince the RIAA that Apple was their best choice. It should be pretty obvious that this DRM they created was to please the RIAA, and that is what put them in the spot to make a "right time, right place" move with the mobile phone.

      They should add two zeroes onto that fine for shitting on consumers for corporate gain with the RIAA. _OR_, they should be given a scarce pat on the back for pulling a Microsoft and screwing over the RIAA, because it was the deal with the iPOD that ultimately made everything free EVERYWHERE.

      _OR_, everyone can thank John Johansen for giving Apple such a headache with their specifically pathetic DRM scheme that they ultimately had to back-hack out of it.

      People forget about good old "DVD Jon" and what headaches he gave Apple and the MPAA, I haven't :-). Thanks Jon!

      1. Tim Bates

        Re: More to do with

        " They only slung the DRM scheme to convince the RIAA that Apple was their best choice."

        That's what they'll argue in court I expect. And despite my usual thoughts on Apple, I suspect it's largely true, and this time Apple isn't the main problem.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just pay the $350M instead of being douchebags about it?

    Apple's actions in music, ebooks and mp3 players were very clearly antitrust actions, and far worse than anything Microsoft ever did.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      You seem to have forgotten

      that it was the Fruity company that was the first major player to ditch DRM in the face of fierce opposition from the record labels.

      Sure they might have been douchbags (and still are) at times but they made DRM'd music a thing of the past and for that we shoud be thankful.

      Unless you are a lawyer you can't really know if their actions are Anti-trust or not. At the time, there were plenty of other players in the MP3 market (eg Creative). Remember that this was all happening 10 years ago.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: You seem to have forgotten

        No Amazon was the first to sell DRM free music (in MP3) and I expect that's what forced Apple to also go DRM free.

        1. sleepy

          Re: You seem to have forgotten

          No, it was Apple's dominance of distribution in the face of incompetent competitors that forced the music biz to give Amazon DRM-free distribution rights more than a year before Apple. Of course Apple had a most favoured nation clause entitling them to the same deal, but the music biz failed to honour that for more than a year. You don't get far by suing your business partners, so Apple kept quiet.But you can be sure Apple was on the point of litigation when the music biz finally conceded their legal obligation. By then Amazon was established.

          If Real had gone to court and won the right to hack Fairplay, we'd have DRM to this day. So blocking the Harmony hack turned out overwhelmingly favourable to the consumer.

      2. Clive Galway

        Re: You seem to have forgotten

        You seem to forget that it was Apple who were about the only ones enforcing DRM on their hardware up until that point.

        The creative players, for example, did not enforce DRM - you could load any old MP3 on there and it would play.

        Thousands of iPod owners re-bought their existing collections on iTunes just so they could play the music they already legally owned.

        IIRC the first person to make a regular MP3 playable on the iPod was not Apple, but DVD Jon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Thousands of iPod owners re-bought their existing collections..."

          [citation needed]

          1. Clive Galway

            Re: "Thousands of iPod owners re-bought their existing collections..."

            See the original article for your citation.

            Why do you think the class action suit was brought? For exactly this reason.

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: "Thousands of iPod owners re-bought their existing collections..."

              No, they could load unprotected MP3s, AACs, ripped CDs etc onto an iPod without problems. The class action was brought because other companies (RealNetworks in particular) wanted to be able to use FairPlay also, but Apple wouldn't license it.

              At the time ALL legal digital download sites used DRM of one type or another, and you couldn't move DRMed downloads between manufacturers (or groups of manufacturers) players. In April 2007 Apple went DRM free with EMI's catalog, and across all publishers in January 2009. People who had bought the DRMed version could get the DRM free version for an upgrade price. At that point they could transfer their purchases to any player that supported AAC (part of the MP4 spec).

    2. Handy Plough

      "Why not just pay the $350M instead of being douchebags about it?" Perhaps because the suit is utter bullshit?

      "Apple's actions in music, ebooks and mp3 players were very clearly antitrust actions..." Much like Google is with search?

      "... and far worse than anything Microsoft ever did." Your fanboi is showing...

  6. Stevie


    Fools! iTunes is Democracy spelled in horribly compressed and artifact-riddled music files!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What? They're letting jobs out of the big Android jail in the sky to testify? LMAO!

  8. sleepy

    Sun Tzu has it covered

    To understand what went on, you must drop your emotional attachment to theories that suit your preconceptions. Steve Jobs was ruthlessly logical in his decisions, and he got us to where we are now. It is Apple's actions that gave Amazon the right to sell DRM free, because the music biz ended up playing that card to prevent Apple controlling the market. The stage on which Apple fights on the consumer's behalf is at the midpoint between consumer and incumbent, and that's how they change the world. They become the new incumbent because they force what users want when the incumbent won't offer it.

    Everyone knew we had to move off CD's. But the music biz was terrified of losing control to rampant copying. If Apple ever put a step wrong, they were a big target for the music biz to sue. To sell music files, the music biz demanded copy protection that couldn't be defeated, even though every copy protection scheme had always ended up defeated.

    Job's first, brilliant, audacious step was the "Rip, Mix, Burn" campaign that went with offering CD/RW in the iMac. Apple, supported by artists, advertised that it was definitely legal to rip CD's, and definitely legal to write the music to a new CD, provided it was new "mix", and iTunes made it easy to do. If you could do it with iTunes, it was legal. The music biz hated it, but it was Steve Jobs and Apple that stood up for the consumer, and interposed themselves as target for any litigation the music biz might attempt. Thank you Apple for a brilliant, and successful opening move.

    When it came to selling music files, the music biz demanded DRM. How come Apple was able to offer acceptable DRM, when Microsoft et al didn't, and didn't even seem to know they didn't, even though any punter could have told you?

    Others, like Microsoft Playsforsure, only offered rental of music, and restricted too rigidly where it could be played. (when you "bought" Playsofrsure music, it still had to be refreshed by a touch from the central servers every month, even though there was no further fee). After a month, your music player would stop playing a playsforsure file unless it was refreshed with another sync. When Microsoft eventually shut down Playsforsure, they told everyone to burn all their music to CD (thank you Apple), or they would lose it.

    Apple had negotiated a deal where you could play on five computers, and on unlimited iPods provided they synced to one of your five. And your music would play forever, without any further touch from a central server. Apple fairplay was the only DRM system that actually felt like owning the music. How did they pull that one off?

    Apple only had the Mac which didn't have Windows, or even an X86 CPU, and an expensive iPod that only synced to a Mac, using a Firewire interface that wasn't on Wintel PC's. So Apple was making a deal for 2% of the market, for hardware that didn't even connect to a PC. And Apple controlled ALL the player devices, and could update every player firmware if Fairplay was ever hacked. Only if you didn't ever want any new music on your iPod could you avoid a compulsory fairplay/iTunes/firmware update. Apple delivered unbreakable DRM by controlling all the player devices in perpetuity. Even Microsoft couldn't offer that. Everyone else delivered unbreakable DRM by having all music automatically die within thirty days unless it was re-touched from central servers.

    Apple didn't let the music biz restrict them legally to Mac and firewire. The music biz presumably figured: if this works on the Mac, we can stitch up asimilar structure for the other 98% of the market before Apple starts again with USB, Windows, and X86, and zero market share.

    So it did work, enough people accepted Apple's DRM, even though you could still buy CD's and rip them to unprotected music on iTunes. Apple smoothly switched to USB, and put iTunes on Wintel. But the music biz failed miserably to copy the benefits of Fairplay in the Wintel market. That's why they gave Amazon and others DRM free rights which Apple didn't have. It was their last card to play. Apple had finally forced the music biz to do what they should have done in the beginning: trusted the punter with DRM free music.

    Of course Apple's not stupid. After they'd done all the hard work, the music biz was giving competitors a better deal, putting Apple out of the business. Of course Apple had a "most favoured nation" clause: if you give someone else a better deal, you have to offer it to us. But the music business hung on to that differentiation for over a year before capitulating. I'm sure Apple was on the point of litigation when the music biz finally gave Apple the right to DRM free music. I believe Amazon was established as a viable alternative channel in that year.

    So there you have it: it was Steve Jobs who forced the music biz to allow DRM free music files to be sold, and it was Steve Jobs who got the music biz to give Amazon that right more than a year before Apple itself got it. Before that time, if Apple allowed Real to hack Fairplay music onto iPods, Apple could lose the ability to change the implementation of Fairplay while preserving all a users owned music on an iPod. DRM requires tight control all the way from publisher to analogue-out in both audio and video. Apple couldn't possibly allow Real to break that chain, and if they have any sense, that's what Apple will say in court: the music biz demanded unbroken DRM so Apple required complete end to end control. Allowing the Harmony hack would break the control that Apple needed to meet contractual obligations for music distribution.

    So now go read The Art of War (2.5K years old). It's a free download, and it's very short. It's business basics.

  9. sleepy

    It all worked out in the end didn't it?

    You can rip CD's; you can buy music and copy it where you like; you can play it on any player or phone you like. You can convert it to any format you like (with iTunes if you want). How ever much you may hate them, it's Apple that made all that happen against the fervent desires of the music business, backed by the Microsoft monopoly. It's not surprising Apple's market cap has grown a hundred fold since 2003.

    And now, we've finally realised we don't want to own music anyway.

  10. FrankieP

    It's a bad ass world in business - but hey really, people only argue with someone that beats them or is seriously smarter than them. Leaders are always shot down in flames by some disgruntled rival.

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