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War on Apple

It seems that becoming the dominant company in the portable digital music category has brought Apple a lot more than just boatloads of cash. They are undergoing attacks from both other businesses and a small group of DRM foes.

Creative’s patent infringement suit seems a bit flaky to me, but that has not stopped the US International Trade Commission from stepping in and taking a look at Creative’s request. The danger here is that they could issue an injunction, essentially shutting down Apple’s ability to sell iPods. It would seem to me that there would need to be an unambiguous finding that not only was Apple infringing on these patents, but that there was no doubt that the patent is valid (to avoid the unfair position that RIM found themselves in) and also that further harm would be caused by allowing the sales to continue. I think the ITC would be hard pressed to make that decision and be able to have legitimate justification for it.

On another front, Apple is being picketed by anti-DRM protesters, had anti-DRM legislation proposed in France and now Norway is insisting that the inability of iTunes purchased songs to be played on competing players is illegal as is it’s EULA, and have given Apple until June 21 to revise their policies. Now, there is no one who would rather see DRM disappear and have interoperability across all devices that can play MP3’s than me. However, everyone have let this situation go on for years and to now turn around and tell Apple they must change immediately is not a resonable thing to do. Apple was not the company pushing DRM, the RIAA was. If DRM is to go away, I think you first have to go after the RIAA and force them to accept it. Apple will then adjust accordingly. And every user who is now bound by the ridiculous restrictions that are placed upon them will be the first to applaud.

Posted by Jeff

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