Apple has been in the news recently for putting unwanted music in users’ libraries. But a new antitrust lawsuit is alleging that the tech company used its software muscle to remove songs from iPods that had been purchased on rival companies’ download services.
The class-action suit claims that between 2007 and 2009, Apple’s software would yield an error message when an iPod would attempt to sync with a music library containing songs bought on other music-download programs. The system would then issue a prompt to restore factory settings to the iPod, upon which songs from those other services would be deleted.
“You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up” users’ music collections, said attorney Patrick Coughlin, speaking in U.S. District Court in Oakland where he filed the suit, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The plaintiffs in the case are seeking $350 million in damages, a figure that could dramatically escalate if Apple is found in violation of antitrust laws.
Apple security director Augustin Farrugia said in testimony that Apple’s software only deleted the files out of precautions against hackers, and that the system gave vague information about the deletions to users because Apple didn’t “want to confuse them.” According to the company, corrupted music files from non-Apple services were seen as a potential gateway for hackers to access users’ data and systems.
In one exhibit presented in the suit, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wrote in an email, “Someone is breaking into our house.” Jobs’s testimony about the issue, from a 2011 deposition, is likely to emerge in the lawsuit.