DoJ increasing anti-Apple probe from music to all media

The New York Post is reporting that the Department of Justice is extending its anti-trust probe into Apple beyond music into all forms of media, including movies and TV shows.

"The [Justice Dept.] is doing outreach," said one Hollywood industry source. "You can't dictate terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of everybody."

Interestingly, Hollywood thinks nothing about dictating terms to consumers or treating us like criminals, forcing DRM schemes on Apple and other companies -- schemes like HDCP and FairPlay that don't stop bootleggers but do stop regular consumers from fairly using the content they paid for. They've also recently gotten the government to help close the "analog recording loop", create unfair laws like the DMCA and pursue rediculous international agreements to do likewise and worse.

Apple, like Microsoft and Google should be properly scrutinized for abusive and anti-competitive practices, absolutely. But what about Hollywood, who is scrutinizing them? The government is supposed to protect the interests of the people, not of the studios.

Ironically, Hollywood-mandated DRM is the only hard lock in iTunes.

If the probe into Apple is really about protecting consumers then great, protect us. If it's about helping friends in Hollywood remove Apple as a barrier towards further harming consumers with more DRM, higher prices, and less choice, then how about turning the DoJ around and pointing them in the right direction?

[New York Post via BGR

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

DoJ increasing anti-Apple probe from music to all media

24 Comments

@tonyunral: Yes, there is universal spell check. But Rene and co. just plain ignore it. Never read what they write. Gotta accept that as a fact of life.

The thing about the DoJ (and the Government in general) is that they go with the letter of the law and rarely the spirit of the law--especially if that means getting support from big companies for the next [insert Political party here] compaign.

Apple has every right not to allow splash on there devices if they don't want them there. Sounds more like Adobe crying.

Yes let's waste time on Apple because everything else in our country is running so smooth. There are so many other important issues right now and they chose to screw with Apple for getting music and movies maybe a day or so before crappy Amazon? Who gives a crap. What happened to people having their own choices? We chose to use iTunes over other forms if that's what we want! But w/e Hollywood is a giant money making industry and like said above will help fund some political races. Keep up the great work DoJ you are amazing!

Whether you agree with Rene's focus or not he makes good points - Hollywood donates big money to their pet CongressCritters (and Apple doesn't) and therefore they can do what they want. The irony of that quote should crush the Hollywood sleaze ball who said it.

You can't dictate terms to the industry? Uh, excuse me, what's the average ticket price these days???

Chuck732: Forgive me Chuck. But whether or not you think the government is a joke or not is irrelevant. It's America...don't like it go somewhere else. See how things go for you in Iran. And BTW...Happy Memorial Day!
Forgive me but I just got done looking at the black wall of names of people that died for your country and government. I, for one, am thankful.

@ icebike "The central point being Apple’s attempt to use its dominance in one area to control other markets."
The key word is "dominance." And my "central point" is that Apple has no monopoly in any industry, despite its dominant market share.
In a monopoly, customers have little or no choice. You, as a consumer, are still free to purchase any non-Apple portable audio and video player of your choosing. Sony still sells Walkmans, Sandisk sells Sansas, and Microsoft apparently is still attempting to sell Zunes. Take your pick. Tens of millions of consumers have voted with their wallets.
True, Apple dominates the personal audio / video player market, with about 70% share. But it's still not a monopoly. And Apple has done nothing to lock other manufacturers out of the market.
Hollywood is an oligopoly, the way OPEC is. They compete against each other, but not on price. The Hollywood movie studios, just like the oil producing countries of OPEC, benefit from keeping their prices as high as possible, as a group.

The reality, if critics would simply shut up and think about it for a moment, is that Apple can do whatever they want with their platform and 'dictate' standards coinciding with their perceived best interests for their existing and potential customers. And, all of us...consumers, competitors, businesses, the music industry and Hollywood can 'buy into it' or not. No one is being forced to buy Apple products and no one is being forced to develop for the Apple platform (Mac or iPhone/iPad). Conversely, no one has a right to buy or do whatever they want either. We live in a society that is increasingly characterized by entitelement and a perspective of 'how dare they' to any one, individual or corporation, that is supposedly a threat to such entitlement.
Apple should be able to demand standards in pricing, delivery method, content types, etc. of any media offered on any of THEIR platforms...suppliers of such content can then participate or not...their choice. There are plenty of competing markets, devices, delivery mechanisms and more, so Apple is far, far from being monopolistic or an insurmountable foe. Apple has the wind at their back right now, but that is about it. Winds change and when a company is at the top, the prevailing direction is usually only one way...down.
It absolutely IS in the best interests for consumers for the feds to stay out of the way. Even critics of Apple must agree that the U.S. government has a horrific track record vs. Apple in understanding the best interests of consumers and delivering excellence in innovation, quality, and support. Apple understands basic human psychology that most people thrive on simplicity in interfaces, features, execution of processes and options. They want to offer such products and services for those that appreciate such...everyone else can buy elsewhere...it's really that simple.

Hey ToeJo our country and government are two different things. I love my country. It gives me the right to call our government a joke. You do know where you are don't you.

@RockSolid:
I forbid you to trot out that Monopoly word again. ;-)
It is not about monopoly.
Its about Apple using its Dominant Market Position to dictate to other market segments. Microsoft never got away with this stuff without the DOJ stepping in as well as the EU.
But somehow, its ok for Jobs to totally change the way ebooks are sold in north america just so he can make a profit, and the customer gets screwed with high prices, and Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Borders just have to sit back and take it.
Its about Apple forcing music vendors to abrogate contracts with Amazon because they have the muscle to do so.
There is far more to unfair business practices than having a monopoly. Open your eyes.

@icebike:
What do you even mean with the ebooks thing? As far as I'm aware of, the prices of most of the books in the iBookStore are at the same level as the books you find on virtually any other ebook store. And even if you are against Apple gaining market share in the field of ebooks, then you're not limited to iBooks on the iPad.... you're not even limited to the iPad. Kindles are still sold and there are other ebook apps available for the iPad. iBooks gets a favoured position obviously because it is an apple product, but you can't use that as an argument for Apple using unfair tactics, because if it was true they'd have banned all those other apps outright.
And as for the whole iTunes vs. Amazon thing... if I've been hearing correctly, Apple was protesting against Amazon having exclusivity over certain music for a while. Why does Amazon deserve exclusivity? And why should Apple just take that fact sitting down seeing as how iTunes IS the dominant music distributer on the market.
I'm not particularly bothered about this whole issue, because the DoJ isn't going to get anywhere. It's within the rights of a company to dictate terms to people developing for their platform and setting the limits of what their products can and cannot do. I don't see anyone investigating Microsoft because their browsers are still incompatible with many standards based websites or because their consoles keep suffering major cases of break. If you don't like it, then you aren't being locked to Apple, or any other company for that matter.

@Brian Thx for the kudos!
@Ascaris Great argument. Not sure what icebike is thinking considering the iPad just came out and Apple has allowed competing apps and book sales. To date, I prefer the Kindle app on my iPad and buy my ebooks from Amazon cause I like reverse text...white on black...when reading. In fact, Apple is being benefitting consumers in supporting the ePub format when others are not and recently opening up book publishing to independent writers!