Apple has admitted to secretly deleting non-iTunes songs from user’s iPods and is facing a case where $1 billion in damages is being sought. The case has now taken a new turn with the company’s lawyers bringing evidence that the plaintiffs in the case have not purchased iPods as mentioned in the lawsuit.
iPod users would have their non iTunes songs deleted after the company devised a secret procedure of displaying an error message and urging the users to restore to factory settings. Apple had followed this method to compete with other competitors in the market who offered music for a lesser cost or for free. Users were not notified regarding the song’s removal.
“Apple did not inform users regarding the deletion because the company did not want to confuse users,” said Augustin Farrugia, security director at Apple.
The company claimed that it had security concerns regarding free content and informed the court that “DVD John” and “Requiem” were harmful to the iPod users.In 2006, Norwegian hacker and founder of DoubleTwist Jon Johansen developed programs for users to copy non iTunes songs and played on iPods. Jon was arrested in 2001 by Norway court after pressure from U.S DVD Copy Control Association and Norwegian Motion Picture Association. After he was acquitted of all charges, Apple has never filed a case against him.
Incidentally, the case coincides in a time when Apple is basking in the huge iTunes growth as it sold more than 3 billion songs between January and June 2008. iPod sales also surged to 50 million in 2007 and to 3.2 million in 2008. While iPod sales declined after 2009 mainly due to introduction of high-end iPhone, iTunes has reached the $10 billion mark in February 2010.
With the new evidence being brought in by lawyers, Apple is likely is be favored by the court unless a strong counter-evidence provided by two women plaintiffs.