Eddy Cue took the stand on Thursday in the ongoing class-action suit alleging Apple is guilty of attempting to lock other companies out of their iPod music players, while locking users into their iPod/iTunes ecosystem. Cue testified about Apple’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) policies.
In the early days of iTunes and the iPod, all iTunes music purchases were encoded with Apple’s FairPlay DRM, preventing music bought via iTunes from being played on music players other than the iPod. In the two-pronged antitrust lawsuit that covers both iTunes music being restricted to the iPod and iPods being unable to play content from third-party services, Apple’s use of restrictive DRM is one of the major complaints against the company.
Cue testified that Apple was against DRM, but was forced by the record labels to use it in order to secure deals with the labels. Cue noted that FairPlay, Apple’s DRM system, wasn’t licensed to any other companies because Apple “couldn’t find a way to do that and have it work reliably.”
Cue said interoperability with other companies MP3 players was impossible. “Others tried to do this, and it failed miserably,” Cue said. “One of those was Microsoft.” Cue says when Apple first went to the record companies with the idea of the iTunes Store, they rejected the idea, because they had their own stores with DRM that could vary from device to device, as well as from song to song.
While FairPlay kept iTunes music from being played on competitors devices, it also kept competing music services off of the iPod.
As was reported earlier this week, it was alleged that Apple quietly deleted music from other services off of users’ iPods, by directing them to perform a factory reset on their devices. Cue says that was to protect iTunes users, as allowing third-party music on the devices “wouldn’t work.”
The class action suit has so far featured a video taped deposition and corporate emails from late Apple CEO Tim Cook, the reveal about the music deletions, and now testimony by Eddy Cue. Apple marketing head Phil Schiller is expected to testify before the proceedings end.