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Local music lover Stacie Somers is so mad about her iPod’s limitations, she’s suing Apple. Her lawsuit seeks class-action status, contending that Apple monopolizes the music-player industry because iPods and the online iTunes music store are not compatible with devices made by other companies. Somers, who says she owns a 30-gigabyte iPod, filed the 24-page suit on December 31.

According to the filing, “Apple has engaged in tying and monopolizing behavior, placing unneeded and unjustifiable technological restrictions on its most popular products in an effort to restrict consumer choice, and to restrain what little remains of its competition in the digital music markets.”

Somers is seeking a court order forbidding Apple from continuing its allegedly anticompetitive business practices. She cites consumers’ “lack of options,” which violates the Cartwright and Sherman Antitrust Acts. She requests a “permanent injunction against the reported behavior in addition to damages.” The “damage” amount is unspecified.

Further, Somers accuses Apple of shipping its products with “crippleware,” which “forces” consumers to purchase all their digital music through iTunes. According to the complaint, “Apple’s crippleware operating system software prevents the iPod Shuffle from playing WMA [Microsoft Windows] files.… Apple’s iPod is alone among mass-market digital-music players in not supporting the WMA format.”

At 99 cents per song on iTunes, it would cost around $40,000 to fill up a new iPod from Apple’s online store. Somers paid a $350 filing fee to initiate the lawsuit.

According to a recent article posted at arstechnica.com, an estimated 36 percent of people get much of their music from illegal file-sharing. Such files can often be played in a number of devices and formats.

Apple spokeswoman Susan Lundgren has declined to comment on pending litigation.

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Anonymous Feb. 6, 2008 @ 7:08 a.m.

I sued Apple many years ago. This is what their lawyer told me: "You file a complaint, we respond. You spend a dollar, when spend ten. Whoever runs out of money first loses."


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