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Apple Sued over iTunes Music Distribution Practices

In an interesting move, iTunes has a shot fired across its distribution-bow…

I’ve been into digital music since 1998. I bought a Diamond MP3 player and a 32MB storage card back in the day, and was listening to MP3’s I had ripped from MY CD collection at all times of the day and night. It was a wonderful thing.  Then, I bought an iPod, and the entire world changed for me.

I found out earlier that Atlanta-based ZapMedia is suing Apple over 2 different music distribution patents it says it owns. These patents outline the distribution of music from a server to multiple players.  While the patents were applied for back in 2000, the first wasn’t approved until March of 2006.  The other, within the last couple of weeks… One details distributing digital media assets to "a plurality of users;" and the other expands upon it.

Apparently, Apple and ZapMedia were at the table talking about all of this, but the talks broke down, and ZapMedia came across with the law suit. They are asking for a cut of both iPod sales as well as iTunes music sales.  While Apple doesn’t comment on pending litigation, I’m certain they aren’t budging.  ZapMedia says the move was necessary to protect their technology.

What is most interesting about this, to me, is that the patents can be applied to any and every music delivery system currently available, and all of the most popular services are at risk for a similar suit.  Why ZapMedia is only going after Apple at this time has me a bit curious… Yes, Apple has the most popular player and delivery model/online music store, but Microsoft, Wal-Mart, (the new) Napster, RealMedia, etc. all stand at risk.

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