Apple deliberately deleted non-iTunes music from iPods without informing users

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Apple deleted songs purchased from competing digital music services from its users’ iPods, claimed plaintiffs’ lawyers during court proceedings of Apple’s iPod/iTunes antitrust lawsuit on Wednesday.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, users who tried to sync an iPod to iTunes with music from a rival service received an error message that instructed them to restore their iPod settings. Once the restore was complete, users would find all non-iTunes music had disappeared completely from the music list.

Furthermore, Apple directed the iTunes system “not to tell users the problem,” said attorney Patrick Coughlin in U.S. District Court in Oakland on Wednesday. He added that Apple deliberately tried to “blow up” a user’s music library.

In its defence, Apple’s attorneys told the court that the deletion of non-iTunes music files was aimed at protecting users from hacking attacks. Apple security director Augustin Farrugia said that Apple didn’t provide more information in the error message because it didn’t want to “confuse” users. She said that hackers with names like “DVD Jon” and “Requiem” also made Apple “very paranoid” about protecting iTunes.

The decade-old class action suit is accusing Apple of breaching antitrust laws and limiting consumers’ choice in digital music players by restricting them from loading non-iTunes music to their iPods.

Plaintiffs of the litigation, initially filed in the month of January in 2005, are seeking 350 million dollars in compensations which could be increased threefold under antitrust laws.

Apple’s head of marketing, Phil Schiller, and Software Chief, Eddy Cue, are expected to testify later this week.