from the which-is-probably-right dept
We’ve written a few times about the long-standing class action lawsuit against Apple over whether its DRM efforts, designed to block out RealNetworks’ attempt to reverse engineer a way into the iPod, violated antitrust law. As we noted recently, despite the case going on for years, the class action lawyers who brought the lawsuit ran into a bit of a stumbling block recently when it came out that none of the named plaintiffs were actually in the class, having purchased iPods outside the window which the class covered. The judge let the lawyers find a new plaintiff just a few days ago, but it certainly looks like the rotating plaintiffs issue may have helped Apple. The jury wasted little time in siding with Apple and saying that there was no antitrust violation. Apple’s lawyers played up the plaintiff problem:
?There?s not one piece of evidence of a single individual who lost a single song, not even a complaint about it,? said William Isaacson, Apple?s lead lawyer in the case. ?This is all made up at this point.?
There was a lot of interesting side notes to this case, but the failure of the class action lawyers to have an actual plaintiff was a pretty big deal — and basically made it clear that these lawyers were just in this for the money, rather than to right some sort of wrong.
And, while I’m generally interested in the idea that DRM could potentially be seen as anti-competitive, the fact that this case was about iTunes and RealNetworks kind of highlights how infrequently antitrust law makes sense in the tech industry. The entire digital music ecosystem has changed dramatically since the case began. While iTunes is certainly still a big player, it’s facing serious competition on a variety of different fronts including from streaming services like Spotify (one reason why Apple purchased Beats Music). Competition comes in all different ways, and even if you’re dominant today, it doesn’t mean you’ll be dominant very long.