The European Commission is already looking at Apple’s streaming music plans. But why? Photo: Flickr/Tim Johnson CC
Apple’s not even announced its rebranded Beats Music streaming rival to Spotify yet, and already it’s under investigation from regulators.
According to a new report, multiple record labels and digital music companies have been contacted for questioning by the European Commission for what could be a redo of the Apple’s antitrust ebooks controversy, in which the company was forced to shell out $450 million in damages.
The mystery part: since such investigations are usually triggered only by a formal complaint to the commission, there’s plenty of finger-pointing going on regarding who’s responsible for throwing accusations Cupertino’s way. In true Clue fashion, was it an existing streaming music provider, in the dining room, with the endangered business model?
The verdict is in, and after nearly a decade of legal wrangling, Apple has prevailed in the class-action lawsuit seeking over $1 billion in damages by iPod owners who claimed the company conspired to kill competing music services by adding restrictions to iTunes.
The eight-person jury found Apple not liable of adding DRM restrictions as an anti-competitive move toward rival players like RealNetworks from 2006 to 2009. The Verge reports that the jury unanimously delivered the verdict this morning and said that iTunes 7.0 is a “genuine product improvement” that increased security for consumers.
Apple’s eBook appeal is just getting started. Photo: Apple
Apple was found guilty last year of colluding with publishers to raise ebook prices, but now that the antitrust case is being heard by the Second U.S. Court of Appeals, two out of the three appellate judges are starting to see things Apple’s way.
The appeals case kicked off this morning with Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart attempting to compare Apple to a driver taking a narcotics dealer to a drug pick up. The analogy was supposed to make the point that if Apple knew publishers were conspiring to fix ebook prices, it was just as guilty as them for facilitating the conspiracy. However, Fortune reports that Judge Denis Jacobs laughed off the analogy, pointing out that drug trafficking is one of the few “industries in which the law does not look with favor or new entrants.”
The comment drew a chorus of laughs in the courtroom, but Judge Jacob’s concerns went even further, as the the judge questioned whether the government should have even brought the case to court.
Steve Jobs may have been part of some of the biggest tech revolutions of the past forty years, but he was also part of an illegal attempt to suppress employee wages by way of a massive no-poaching agreement with other tech giants.
Another of the companies accused of similar actions by former employees was Pixar, the company Jobs purchased a majority interest in after being booted out of Apple in the mid-80s. In 2011, Pixar’s John Lasseter described Jobs as “forever…part of Pixar’s DNA.”
As it happens, that may not be entirely for the best.
Is Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music a potential antitrust case? European Union antitrust regulators announced this morning that it will rule on whether or not to clear Apple’s Beats music bid by July 30.
It is hoped that the deal will help Apple gain the lead in the rapidly-growing and lucrative music streaming business. The European Commission has the power to either clear the Beats deal unconditionally, or else demand concessions if it sees competition issues.
Ever have that situation at school where a teacher who doesn’t seem to like you gives you a bizarrely good end-of-year grade?
That seems to be the case with Apple’s court-appointed monitor Michael Bromwich, who describes the company as being off to a “promising start” with its antitrust compliance program, after being last year found liable for conspiring to raise e-book prices.
Both Bromwich and Apple ended up filing legal complaints about the other, although those complaints appear to have now simmered down.
In a new 77-page report filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Bromwich describes his relationship with Apple as “significantly improved” compared to where it was back in February, when Apple lawyers were trying to remove Bromwich from the case.
Apple has filed an appeal related to last year’s verdict stating that the company violated U.S. antitrust laws by conspiring with publishers to fix e-book prices.
The appeal — which was filed Tuesday with the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York — calls U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote’s ruling “a radical departure from modern antitrust law and policy,” and argues that it will “stifle innovation, chill competition, and harm consumers” if it is followed.
Apple has lost its latest bid to put court-appointed antitrust monitor Michael Bromwich on hold, with a federal appeals court rejecting Apple’s claim that the monitor’s work was causing irreparable harm.
In a brief order, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said that Bromwich (the former U.S. attorney and Justice Department inspector general given the job of ensuring antitrust compliance regarding e-book price fixing) may continue to examine Apple’s antitrust compliance policies, while Apple pursues a broader appeal seeking to remove him altogether.
A group of 64,000 Silicon Valley workers have won the right to pursue a lawsuit against a number of tech companies — including Apple — accused of an “overarching conspiracy” to keep employee pay low through anti-poaching agreements.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an order by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that will let the workers sue as a group, and pursue what defendants claim could be more than $9 billion of damages.