Will the Trustbusters Go After Apple?

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 27, 2005

In the wake of Eliot Spitzer investigating digital music pricing, David Berlind at Between the Lines wonders if Apple’s an even more obvious target:

At what point does Apple’s DRM strategy and chokehold on the entertainment industry constitute a tying violation that trustbusters must pay attention to? Given all the trouble DRM is causing, this seems to me to be a bigger fish for Spitzer to fry than the one about collusion. If Apple is monopolizing the digital music distribution channel (and judging by the way the record labels are whining, it does), then, is it a tying violation if Apple’s technology is required to get at all that digital music? Particularly if Apple is refusing to license it to competitors (a.k.a. foreclosing on competition)?

I can’t speak for the legal implications, but those are pretty interesting questions. Me, I agree with Rex Hammock and Dave Winer that buying a CD and ripping it to your MP3 player (in effect backing up your digital music before you even put it on an MP3 player) is the only way to go until Apple and others make it dead easy to recover music lost in a hard-disk crash.

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Reader Comments

PXLated

December 27, 2005 09:19 AM

Where was David when Microsoft built their monopoly? It's now, Apple bad just because they built something good that everyone wants. And all because David has this super stereo system that doesn't interface with an iPod. Yes, DRM sucks but you wouldn't have iTunes at all if they didn't use DRM to placate the music companies.
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As far as Rex... losing all the music...
You keep your CDs in a nifty little case, you drop the case and run over it with your car, you go back to Tower and want them to replace all your CDs as they know you bought them there (of course they have a credit card record). The Tower folks would laugh you out of the store I'm pretty sure.
You buy music from iTunes, you don't back them up, your hard drive crashes, you try to get them back from Apple (of course they have a record of your purchase). You can't (actually, I've heard of people being able to do it).
Now, what's the difference? Nothing's changed. Why all the Apple bashing.

Rajesh

December 27, 2005 09:20 PM

None of this would have happened if Microsoft ruled the roost and made low quality ipod rip-offs. Oh, the humanity.

BigHowdy

December 28, 2005 10:18 AM

You can buy music through eMusic, Napster, Yahoo! and countless other online music stores, not to mention thousands of new and used CD retailers. So Apple hasn't tried to corner the industry by demanding exclusivity. They simply have created a better product (the iPod) and are reaping the benefits of compatible software (in this case, songs). Is Sony a monopoly because PlayStation games won't play on Nintendo or the XBox consoles? Nope. Because monopolies come from limiting choices, not from being everyone's first choice.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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