Court Hears Apple Deleted Rival Music Off iPods from 2007-09

At a U.S. District Court in Oakland, California today, attorneys representing a class-action antitrust lawsuit against Apple told jurors the latter deleted rival music off customer iPods without informing them, from 2007 to 2009, reports the Wall Street Journal:

“You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up” a user’s music library, attorney Patrick Coughlin said in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.

When a user who had downloaded music from a rival service tried to sync an iPod to the user’s iTunes library, Apple would display an error message and instruct the user to restore the factory settings, Coughlin said. When the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear, he said.

Apple responded by saying the move was part of security measures, with security director Augustin Farrugia testifying no further explanation was required for its users because “We don’t need to give users too much information,” and “We don’t want to confuse users.”

The Cupertino company contended the updates that deleted non-iTunes music were made to protect consumers, as the iTunes “system was totally hacked” by hackers looking to open up the system.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, as part of email evidence shown in court, said “someone is breaking into our house,” as noted in an email by company executive Eddy Cue. The latter is set to testify this week, along with executive Phil Schiller, with more video depositions by Steve Jobs dating back to 2011.

The plaintiffs say the move by Apple suppressed competition for rival music players and download services, and thusly are seeking $350 million in damages, alleging the iPod maker’s moves caused them to pay more for the music player. If found guilty, Apple could possibly face triple the damages under current antitrust laws.

Cue and Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, are expected to testify this week, and more portions of a videotaped 2011 deposition of Jobs are expected to be played.