Apple Clears Suit Over ITunes Song Exclusivity
(CN) - A California woman has no case against Apple over its former practice of making music purchased from the iTunes Store compatible only with the iPod, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.
Stacie Somers first sued the company in 2007, after she discovered that Apple encoded all of the songs she had bought from the iTunes Store with its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) software. FairPlay made it so that Somers could only use her iPod to play music purchased from iTunes.
Seeking an injunction and damages in the form of nonencrypted music files, Somers filed a proposed class action on behalf of indirect purchasers. She alleged that Apple had violated federal and state antitrust laws and that the company had improperly tethered iTunes and the iPod to the detriment of consumers, among other things.
Meantime, in 2008, a federal judge found in a related action involving a class of direct purchasers that such a "tying claim" had no validity. After twice allowing Somers to amend her complaint, the Northern District of California refused to certify a class and dismissed the antitrust claims.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed on Tuesday, finding that the antitrust arguments held little water and that Somers had abandoned her individual claims.
"Somers' alleged limited ability to play her music does not relate to a restriction on her ability to buy music from competing online music sellers," Judge Milan Smith wrote for the San Francisco-based panel. "Somers also cannot meaningfully claim that her ownership of DRM-encoded music inhibits competition in the PDMP market, or that it restricts her choices in that market because she only seeks to represent music purchasers in the SAC. In sum, Somers' alleged inability to play her music freely is not an 'antitrust injury' that affects competition, and thus cannot serve as a basis for injunctive relief."
Apple stopped encrypting iTunes music with FairPlay after March 2009, according to the ruling.