Aided by Steve Jobs' testimony, Apple prevails in iTunes antitrust case

A jury found Apple not guilty in a decade-old case alleging that the company behaved in a anticompetitive manner by making its iTunes software and iPod music players incompatible with rival services. The trial featured a videotaped deposition from Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, in which he recounted how Apple had to secure its software from hacking attempts.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File
A jury found Apple not guilty of changing iTunes to push rivals out of the marketplace between 2006 and 2009. Here, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs demonstrates the iPod at a 2005 Apple event in San Jose, California.

A class-action lawsuit against Apple that had been working its way through various courts for nearly 10 years was finally settled on Tuesday, in Apple’s favor.

The jury of eight agreed with Apple’s case that it changed its iTunes software and its then-dominant iPod MP3 player in 2006 to make a better experience for customers, not to try to achieve a digital music monopoly.

At the time, songs purchased from iTunes came embedded with software that made them incompatible with other music players, and the iPod was made so that it couldn’t play songs purchased from competing online music stores.

The case gained notoriety because it featured a videotaped deposition from Apple’s late cofounder Steve Jobs, recorded several months before his death in 2011. The plaintiffs had hoped that Mr. Jobs’ famously blunt e-mails would help their case (in one communication, he flatly stated that the iPod should be made incompatible with Musicmatch, then a competing download service) and there was speculation that the video would reveal a Jobs determined to crush iTunes’ opposition.

But though Jobs took some jabs at companies that competed with Apple in the middle part of the decade, including RealNetworks, he also noted in the video that Apple had to strengthen the security of its software as part of its contracts with music labels. At the time, he said, many people were trying to hack the iTunes digital rights management system, and Apple acted to protect the integrity of its platform, not to unfairly dominate the marketplace.

The plaintiffs’ case faltered early, when lawyers learned that the named plaintiff hadn’t actually purchased an iPod between 2006 and 2009, and so couldn’t claim that Apple’s actions had harmed her. Apple’s lawyers argued that the plaintiffs weren’t able to demonstrate any actual harm that had come about as a result of Apple’s actions, since no iPod customers testified that they had suffered. Top Apple executives Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue, the head of iTunes, testified as part of the trial, arguing that Apple hadn’t broken antitrust law.

With the court victory, Apple avoided a judgement of nearly $1 billion. The plaintiffs had asked for $351 million, which would automatically have tripled under antitrust law. The case was also a reminder of how much the online music landscape has changed in the past decade. In 2006, when the case was filed, Apple was an underdog competing with RealNetworks, Microsoft, and other companies with their own online music services, as well as with brick-and-mortar record stores such as Tower Records.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Aided by Steve Jobs' testimony, Apple prevails in iTunes antitrust case
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today