- iPod owners have been enlisted in a class-action lawsuit against Apple
- The music service Harmony allowed users to play songs downloaded from the RealPlayer music store on Apple's iPod
- Apple created a firmware update that blocked other music services from uploading songs to the iPod
If you're one of the millions who purchased an iPod between Sept. 12, 2006, and March 31, 2009, you might be in for a surprising email. It states that you're being enlisted in a class-action lawsuit against Apple — though you do have the right to recuse yourself.
The class-action lawsuit was originally filed by a customer in January 2005 and was ignited by the creation of the music service Harmony. Back in 2004, the company RealNetworks created Harmony as a digital rights management (DRM) translation service. It allowed users to play songs downloaded from the RealPlayer music store on Apple's iPod.
But as any iPod user knows, songs must be loaded onto iTunes to be played on Apple's devices. That's because Apple created an iPod firmware update not too long after the announcement of Harmony, which blocked it and other music services from uploading songs to the iPod.
The customer filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of unfairly blocking competition. Now, years later, it's gaining steam.
Though RealNetworks has nothing to do with this case, the . District Court for the Northern District of California gave the lawsuit class-action status in November 2011. The website ipodlawsuit.com, which details the entire case, explains:
"The lawsuit claims that Apple violated federal and state laws by issuing software updates in 2006 for its iPod that prevented iPods from playing songs not purchases on iTunes. The lawsuit claims that the software updates caused iPod prices to be higher than they otherwise would have been."
The "class-action status" of the case means that if you own any of these devices — first through fourth generation Nanos, second and third generation Touches, first through third generation Shuffles, a fifth generation classic iPod or the special edition U2 iPod — you're automatically included in the lawsuit. (Official notices began going out this week.) But you give up any right to sue Apple individually over the same concerns.
Alternatively, you could also request exclusion from the case. However, if Apple does end up losing, you don't get to share in any kind of "recovery" that may be rewarded.
So far, there's no money involved — no actual settlement or reward has been determined.
If you're one of these iPod owners, will you opt to be excluded from the case, or will you take part in a class-action lawsuit against Apple? Sound off in the comments.