The decade-old class-action lawsuit brought against Apple by iPod owners angry that they were locked into the iTunes ecosystem is finally underway in a California courtroom, and emails between Apple executives, and a videotaped deposition of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs are the focus of the early proceedings.
According to CNN Money and Reuters, the question-and-answer session with Steve Jobs focused on Apple’s response to RealNetworks and its Harmony music service. In 2004, RealNetworks created this competing music service that allowed users to download songs and play them on any media device, including the iPod.
Following the announcement of RealNetworks’ iPod support, Apple published a press release accusing the company of hacking the iPod. Apple devised the strategy via a series of emails between Steve Jobs and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.
“How’s this?” Jobs wrote. “We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod.”
“I like likening them to hackers,” Apple marketing chief Philip Schiller responded.
In his deposition, Jobs is asked about the emails, and is queried as to whether the response was “strong and vehement.” Jobs replied that they didn’t seem angry to him, noting that, “A strong response from Apple would be a lawsuit.”
Jobs was evasive at times during his testimony, responding 74 times with such answers as: “I don’t remember,” “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall.”
Jobs testimony painted Apple as a company held hostage by the record companies. The companies required digital rights management (DRM) on iTunes songs as part of their contract terms. Apple claims that its repeated updating of iTunes to patch holes in its DRM was at the behest of the record labels.
The class-action lawsuit began earlier this week in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller and SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue are also expected to testify.