French Court Rules Sony’s Portable Music Player & Download Service Breach Linked Sales Laws

A French court ruled that Sony's tying sales of music to a single type of portable music player, breached French law forbidding such "linked sales".  The Court also ruled that Sony mislead its customers by not making it clear on its portable music player packaging that it could only play music downloaded from Sony's own Connect music store

Importantly, the court did not go so far as to forbid the use of DRM, however.  

Sony was ordered to: (i) pay a fine of 10,000 euros ($13,000); (ii) henceforth state on its music-player packaging that the product only play songs downloaded from Sony's own Connect music store; and (iii) publish the information on its French website homepage.

Sources: The Australian | AgroVox | Euro2Day | Daily India | Washington Times | MSNBC

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Apple iTunes DRM-Antitrust Case to Continue (Tucker v. Apple)

From the Thomas Slattery case back in January of 2005 till now there have been several lawsuits brought against Apple alleging Apple's use of proprietary DRM schemes limiting music purchased from iTunes to playing back only on portable devices manufactured by Apple as anti-competitive.

A U.S. District court recently denied Apple's motion to dismiss the Tucker v. Apple case (filed in July 2006) similarly alleging, among other things, that:

Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice and restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets.

In denying Apple's request, U.S. District Court James concluded,  

"the existence of valid business reasons in antitrust cases is generally a question of fact not appropriate for resolution at the motion to dismiss stage.

Melanie Tucker is seeking class status, wants Apple to be enjoined from tieing music bought on iTunes to iPods as the only possible portable playback device for such music plus unspecified damages for all persons that purchased music from iTunes since April of 2004. 

Sources: Engadget | WebProNews | Ecommerce Times | GameShout | Home Media Magazine | Active Home | Computer World | Macworld | ITNews | P2PNet | ZDNet Blogs  Yahoo! News (AP)

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Blockbuster Anti-Trust Countersuit Against Netflix to Proceed

In response to Netflix’s patent infringement lawsuit launched against Blockbuster last April, Blockbuster filed an anti-trust counter suit against Netflix. Netflix asked the court to dismiss the counter suit, split the suits in two and/or postpone discovery on the second until the first was resolved. U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected all three motions.

Sources: ars technica | CNet | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | | Hollywood Reporter, Esq. | Hollywood Reporter | Reuters

Other Netflix-related Posts

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Class Action Lawyer Sues Record Labels

San Diego lawyer William Lerach’s suit says that Sony BMG, Universal Music, Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and EMI fought together to keep the online music market from emerging, and then “conspired to fix and maintain” music prices once services like Apple’s highly successful iTunes became inevitable.

Sources: Red Herring | Mac World | Cathy Kirkman

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Feds Query Labels About Online Music Prices

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it has launched an inquiry into possible price fixing in the burgeoning online music industry.
Sources: MSNBC | BBC | L.A. Times | Forbes | CNet | Reuters | ZDNet | CNN | MacWorld | ABC News | China Post | New York Times | Engadget | Red Herring

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Elliot Spitzer to Investigate Online Music Price Fixing

New York’s attorney general is investigating whether the four record companies that dominate the industry have violated antitrust laws in the pricing of songs sold online, according to people involved in the inquiry.

Sources: CNET | CNN | L.A. Times | MSN Money | MSNBC | Chicago Tribune | BBC | Techtree

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Digital Rights Mismanagement

How Apple, Microsoft, and Sony cash in on piracy prevention by using it as an anti-competitive, anti-consumer means to lock customers in. All the while, a threat of legal sanctions hang over anyone wanting to break, or anyone willing to assist them in breaking, those locks to move their ‘purchased’ content to a competitive platform or service.


Antitrust Suit Against Apple Over iPod, iTunes to Proceed

Apple Computer Inc. must face several federal and state antitrust claims arising from the operation of its iTunes online music store and the sale of its iPod digital music players, a federal judge in California has ruled. Judge Ware rejected Apple’s argument that the tying allegations must fail because people can buy the iPod and iTunes files separately.


Note: See further details on this case in stories linked to this page on January 6, 2005.