As expected, a videotaped deposition of the late Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs has been played in court as part of an antitrust lawsuit concerning the early generations of the iPod.
The class action lawsuit, whose trial began just last Tuesday, accuses Apple of crippling competition in the digital music space by implementing digital rights management (DRM) protocols that effectively locked iPod users in to the company’s iTunes ecosystem.
Between September 2006 and March 2009, Apple allegedly blocked users from playing music purchased through rival services, particularly RealNetworks, which created a workaround that enabled music bought on its store to be played on the iPod.
But when asked whether he was familiar with RealNetworks, Jobs, in the deposition recorded about six months before his death in 2011, cuttingly replied, “Do they still exist?”
Jobs then said that RealNetworks was just “collateral damage” in Apple’s use of a DRM system, which was apparently carried out as part of the iPod maker’s contracts with music labels. As reported by The New York Times:
Mr. Jobs said that back when the iTunes Store was still young, Apple had strict contracts with music companies stating that it had to protect their copyrights through a strict “digital rights” management system. Any violation of that agreement could result in the music labels withholding their songs from iTunes, he said.
Jobs also said that Apple had to constantly update its iTunes and iPod software to block non-Apple files and protect users from hacking attacks. This, however, supposedly led to the deletion of content not purchased through iTunes without the users’ knowledge.
The iPod antitrust lawsuit could secure up to $350 million in damages for the plaintiffs.
But one of the plaintiffs was withdrawn from the case yesterday after Apple found out that she purchased her iPod touch in July 2009, months after the period in question in the case. The company then filed a request to have the case dismissed altogether, a move which is now being challenged by the proposed addition of a new plaintiff, who bought an iPod touch around May 2008.