Apple’s Old DRM Policy Might Cost Them $350 Million
Hardware companies often enforce DRM to keep users locked in to their ecosystem in the name of piracy, hacking etc. Harsh and unfair DRM policies are often the source of frustration or in my case, the reason for simply getting a different DRM free device.
However, being in a certain company’s ecosystem can also protect your content, device and the company’s system from break-ins. It has it’s advantages and disadvantages, but that is a discussion for another time.
What I wanted to ask you today is that how will you feel if a company is deleting content you have purchased from rival sources, without even telling you? Pissed I guess!
Apple has done exactly that. The company has been deleting iPod music, which some users purchased from rival sources. This was a common practice for Apple during the period between 2007-2009. Because of this some users decided to fight back and sue Apple.
The case was going on for years but only recently it was approved to be presented in front of a jury. What happened was that whenever users downloaded music from non-Apple proprietary services and then decided to sync their iPod to the iTune Library, an error message was prompted.
According to this error, the user was asked to restore their device to its factory settings. That isn’t the issue, the issue is that as soon as the device is restored to its factory settings, all the music purchased from rival services would disappear.
Attorney Patrick Coughlin stated in the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif, that they intentionally instructed the system ‘not to tell users the problem.’ Even after the music has been deleted, Apple didn’t inform the user of it.
Plaintiffs argued that they intentionally wanted to make it difficult for users to leave the company’s ecosystem and wanted to boost their monopoly in the portable music player business. According to the plaintiffs, Apple has violated Anit-Trust laws for which they are looking for a compensation of $350 million from the iPod creator.
The company countered the argument by saying their actions were strictly a form of security measure. Augustin Farrugia, security director, testified that the company avoided explaining the situation to the users because they ‘don’t need to give users too much information’ as they ‘don’t want to confuse users.’
Farrugia further stated that some hackers worried them about the protection of iTunes. So, non-Apple music was deleted to protect consumers.
I agree, DRM is sometimes necessary and it can help protect us from system break-ins. However, if they intentionally weaponized DRM, and used it to keep rivals out of their ecosystem, things might not end in favor of the company.
We will hear more about this intriguing case in the near future. Till then, let us know what you think of all this, in the comments below!
Source: Wall Street Journal