Steve Jobs must defend iTunes updates to court

Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs will be brought in from his medical leave to answer questions from lawyers about iTunes.

Steve Jobs must defend iTunes updates to court

The antitrust case was brought by a group of consumers accusing the company of creating a music-download monopoly.

US Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd, based in San Jose, California, ruled that lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit may question Jobs for a total of two hours.

Jobs has unique, non-repetitive, first-hand knowledge about Apple’s software updates

In the class-action lawsuit, a group of consumers say Apple created a music-downloading monopoly with its iPod player and iTunes store. At issue is a piece of software called Fairplay that allowed only music bought on iTunes to be played on the iPod, according to the complaint.

One competitor, RealNetworks, responded in 2004 by introducing a new technology that would allow customers to play music downloaded from its site on their iPods. But Apple quickly announced a software upgrade to iTunes that once more blocked music from RealNetworks, the complaint charges.

The plaintiffs argued in a court filing late last year that Apple failed to provide specific examples of how a deposition of Jobs would constitute “undue hardship.”

Jobs has unique knowledge

In his ruling, Lloyd wrote that Jobs has “unique, non-repetitive, first-hand knowledge about Apple’s software updates in October 2004 that rendered the RealNetworks’s digital music files once again inoperable with iPods.”

Apple could appeal the ruling to a district judge, but it would likely have to make a case that the magistrate “made a big mistake,” said Professor David Levine at University of California Hastings College of the Law.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment, while attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment.

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