updated 11:35 pm EDT, Tue August 11, 2009
DVD Jon Apple subpoena
John Lech Johansen, known to many as DVD Jon, has been served a subpoena in the ongoing Apple iTunes antitrust case. The plaintiff's attorney, Thomas Merrick, requested the subpoena to gather relevant documents that Johansen might have in his possession.
Johansen has been asked to provide any communications with Apple regarding his efforts to make iPods inter-operable with content purchased outside of iTunes, along with discussions relating to syncing iTunes purchases with non-Apple media players. The request specifically asks for documents or communications involving FairPlay, including Apple's attempts to prevent Johansen from reverse engineering the technology.
Along with cracking DVD protection technology, Johansen also co-founded the start-up doubleTwist. The company offers software that circumvents Apple's FairPlay system and Microsoft's Windows Media protection, enabling users to transfer content between devices. The method is claimed to be legal, as it plays protected content through the original application, such as iTunes, and then records the output as a new track without restrictions.
It remains unknown how the attorneys plan to utilize the documents and communication records in the case. The suit argues that Apple violates antitrust laws by preventing music purchased through the iTunes portal from being played on other devices. The plaintiff accuses Apple of violating terms of the federal Sherman Antitrust Act.
Apple recently issued a formal retraction of its cease and desist letter sent to a BluWiki publisher that hosted discussions relating to syncing iPhones and iPods without using iTunes. The company's lawyers initially threatened the site with legal action, although the Electronic Frontier Foundation reacted with a lawsuit aiming to protect the site host. Apple finally backed down and sent a letter withdrawing its objections to the content.
The class action suit, initiated by Thomas Slattery, was approved to go forward in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.