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Apple automatically deleted competitors' music from users' iPods

Apple removed competitors’ songs from its users’ iPods between 2007 and 2009 supposedly in the name of security.

At least that’s what the company is claiming in a class-action antitrust trial against it, brought on by consumers who claim that Apple used its power and influence over the market to discourage competition in the music downloads and iPod scene.

Patrick Coughlin, attorney for the consumers, explained how Apple acted:

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. When the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear.

When asked why the company engineered this behavior into its software, Apple’s security director Augustin Farrugia claimed they were doing it to protect their users from files that posed a security threat.

However when asked why Apple chose not to disclose this information to its users Farrugia painted a clear picture of how the company views its clients, by saying: “We don’t need to give users too much information […] We don’t want to confuse users.”

The plaintiffs are currently asking for a $350 million payout for damages though if Apple is indeed found guilty of stifling competition that number may grow considerably.

Editor's Note: This article was altered to better reflect what Apple said in court. The terms " infected music files" were altered to "files posing a security threat" which is closer to the official statement.

Source: WSJ | Image via Apple

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