Apple deleted rivals' songs from iPods, court told

Jurors will hear taped testimony from Steve Jobs amid claims that Apple deleted non-iTunes tracks

Apple has been accused in court of trying to unfairly prevent rival digital music services from operating by blocking and deleting non-iTunes songs from iPods between 2006 and 2009.

The District Court in Oakland, California heard that Apple created systems that would display an error message and prompt users to restore their iPod to its factory settings if the device detected music that had been purchased from a rival online store. Once an iPod was restored, the non-iTunes music would disappear.

Jurors in a class-action antitrust suit against Apple were told on Wednesday that the California-based tech company had deliberately tried to stifle competition for music players and downloads.

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According to the attorney Patrick Coughlin, Apple "decided to give [users] the worst possible experience and blow up" their music library.

Apple did not deny the claims, but said that it had attempted to introduce legitimate security provisions to its devices to protect users from accidentally syncing malicious files to their computers and devices.

Augustin Farrugia, Apple's security director, testified that the company offered only a vague explanation rather than going into too much detail because "we don't need to give users too much information", and "we don't want to confuse users", PC World reports.

Jurors will also hear testimony from Apple founder Steve Jobs, recorded in 2011 just six months before his death.

CNN journalist David Goldman, who has seen the deposition, says that throughout the interview, Jobs is "defensive, evasive and opaque". Asked about events that happened seven years earlier, Jobs said "I don't remember", "I don't know" or "I don't recall" 74 times, Goldman reports.

Apple released the first iPod in 2001 and for many years attempted to control the music that could be played on them. Music sold through iTunes was encrypted using a system called Digital Right Management (DRM) that wasn't compatible with non-iPod MP3 players.

The current suit has taken years to prepare. Apple changed its DRM policies five years ago, so the class-action only covers iPod purchases from September 2006 to March 2009. If the case is proven, Apple could have to pay out as much as $1bn in damages.

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