Apple regularly deleted non-iTunes music from iPods

Apple is currently on trial in the US, accused of breaking anti-trust laws and stifling competition with its various practices relating to iPods and iTunes. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that jurors were told Apple regularly deleted music from users’ libraries between 2007 and 2009. Worse still, Apple representatives confirmed this.

Apparently iTunes would detect music downloaded from other services whenever a user tried to sync their iPod, and would display an error message telling them to restore the device to its factory settings. Once that was complete the ‘offending’ music would have vanished. Attorney Patrick Coughlin claims that Apple intentionally hid this fact from users.

Augustin Farrugia, Apple security director, said that Apple didn’t want to explain things in greater detail since it doesn’t “need to give users too much information,” and didn’t “want to confuse users.” As it turns out Apple was paranoid about security, and deleting non-iTunes music was apparently its way of protecting consumers from system break-ins. Hmf.

One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb here is that I’m quite sure a factory reset would also delete the music purchased from iTunes. Granted I haven’t owned an iPod for nearly five years now, but that part of the story doesn’t make sense to me. Still if the prosecution is correct then the non-iTunes music is what triggered the error that made a factory reset necessary, and that’s bad enough.

Tom Pritchard

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