Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Deleting the Evidence

Jeff Elder, Wall Street Journal:

When a user who had downloaded music from a rival service tried to sync an iPod to the user’s iTunes library, Apple would display an error message and instruct the user to restore the factory settings, [attorney Patrick Coughlin] said. When the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear, he said.

Apple directed the system “not to tell users the problem,” Coughlin said.

This is yet another example of the plaintiffs in this case confusing various computer terminology. In this case, it was an iPod software update with a revised version of FairPlay. And Apple did warn users what would happen, in broad strokes:

We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real’s Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods.

I’m a generally optimistic guy, so I’m a pretty big believer in Hanlon’s razor. I’d like to believe that the reason Apple didn’t tell users specifically what was going on was due to the kind of confusion that this trial has created. People don’t understand the difference between DRM formats, or even the fact that an audio file has DRM. So Apple not explicitly telling users that they’re updating the iPod to ensure the security of their own FairPlay DRM — and that this will remove songs with unlicensed or hacked versions of FairPlay — is likely borne from simplicity, not malice.