Over the past ten years, some Apple customers have argued that the iTunes store is an illegal monopoly because songs purchased inside the store can’t be played on Apple devices, but an appeals court in California has finally thrown out those claims once and for all.
A three-judge panel confirmed that Apple’s digital right management system known as FairPlay has not broken any antitrust laws, after a long-running class action lawsuit claimed Apple is running a monopoly by forcing iTunes users to also buy Apple products to listen to their songs.
The panel ruled that even though Apple controlled 99% of the digital music and player market by 2004, it didn’t break any antitrust laws because it maintained its $0.99 per song pricing before and after it implemented its DRM system. Plaintiffs also argued that Apple changed its software so tracks sold from Real Network for $0.49 could be played on its devices, but the three judges weren’t persuaded by that argument either.
While Apple’s taken some heat for how its competed against Amazon with ebooks, the court noted that Apple maintained its $0.99 price point even after Amazon came to the market with a DRM-free solution, and after Apple stopped using FairPlay encryption in 2009.