This isn't the song you seek

Lawyers say iPods deleted songs not purchased from Apple

Songs on iPods not purchased through Apple mysteriously disappeared on some devices, say consumer advocate lawyers in the current suit against the company. The plaintiffs are looking for Apple to pay $350 million for damages in the suit — which was actually filed years ago — but under current law, the damage payout could be tripled.

News of the latest development comes from the Wall Street Journal, which adds that the song deletion allegedly happened between 2007 and 2009. According to lawyers on the consumer side, [company]Apple[/company] iPods would show an error, telling the user to restore factory settings when trying to download music from rival services. In doing so, music from those services would be deleted without any notice to the consumer.

iPod Classic

Logically, this makes some small amount sense to me, however. I’m not defending Apple here and I have no horse in this race, but it’s fairly common that when you factory restore a device — particularly some 5 to 7 years ago — all of the data can and will likely be deleted.

In this case, that would be the music files; even those purchased from Apple wouldn’t be on the device if the reset was a full wipe. Of course, when reconnecting the newly restored iPod to a computer with iTunes, the music stored there would then transfer over to the iPod. I’d be curious if, in this situation, whether only Apple-purchased music then synched over from iTunes. And if the factory settings restore maintained data — but only music purchased from Apple — that’s a different story entirely. And not a good one.

Either way, it doesn’t look good for Apple, which reportedly didn’t tell consumers about this behavior and the missing songs. A security director for Apple, Augustin Farrugia, said Apple declined to explain missing tunes to customers because “we don’t need to give users too much information. We don’t want to confuse users.”

I doubt this case hinges on this particular aspect, either way. Still, it’s becoming clearer that Apple was very protective of its iTunes music service against rivals at the time. And I’m sure additional testimony in the near future will shed more light on the case of the missing songs.


6 Responses to “Lawyers say iPods deleted songs not purchased from Apple”

  1. Sweet Leaf

    I saw this happen with files that I loaded onto my girlfriends device and she was unable to use them. I already had these MP3 backed up on my devices so it did not matter to me,although it is THE REASON I do not have any APPLE products to this day.

  2. This has been happening to me for years, except in my iTunes library. Songs will just disappear, with messages saying the file cannot be located. It’s interesting how it’s only songs not “purchased” (quotes because you are not buying music from Apple, but merely leasing them) from iTunes. Luckily I keep back ups, but it’s infuriating.

  3. Michael W. Perry

    Quote: “The plaintiffs are looking for Apple to pay $350 million for damages in the suit.”

    Not quite accurate. The plaintiff’s lawyers are looking for about 40% of that, or $140 million, for themselves. If they get that, they’ll work out a deal with Apple’s lawyers that’ll make it so difficult for those who might have lost songs to collect, that Apple ends up paying little to the actual plaintiffs.

    I know. I qualified twice over to get settlement money about the unworkability of early versions of OS X on models that Apple claimed, in advance, it would run on. If I had filed for my payments, the paperwork involved would have meant I’d have earned less for my labor than the minimum wage. Meanwhile, my so-called lawyers were probably pocketing $400 per hour for their time. Tort lawyers are, as popular prejudice would have it, greedy amoral SOBs who’ll say and do anything for a buck.

    Also, this lawsuit seems wrong-headed. The problem isn’t that Apple deleted files from third-parties in some iPod restorations. That wasn’t their responsibility. The problem was that those third-parties apparently didn’t permit a second download for lost files. It’s to those third parties that iPod users should have gone for their music not Apple.

    • Nicholas Paredes

      My iTunes library has magically gone from 66 days of music to 60 days… I actually bought all of this music, and much of it is independent. So, if I use iTunes to manage my music and it is deleted, who is responsible for this?

      Is iTunes a store or a music manager? Do they have the right to delete music that iTunes does not have license to without informing me specifically of the titles they are deleting? If cigarettes have labels, so can iTunes. I keep a complete library independent of iTunes, but would rather not spend several days to clean up the mess until a new Mac arrives.

      If Apple would rather that I use another service to manage and purchase my music, they can feel free to let me know that they have the right to delete my music. I am increasingly buying it from other markets anyway. I am also buying more vinyl with downloads. But, Apple and other services need to inform me of the changes they make to my information.

  4. Bobert Dummy, Jr.

    Good. It’s important to keep people in the dark about the way your computer works. As long as hackers know the inner workings, why should a typical computer user know anything? Of course, most people that use computers are pretty stupid in the first place, so why bother edumacating people about how to work theirs? Driver ed is also a waste of time. Let people figure out how to drive on their own (well maybe not a good example even sarcastically, seems like most people are doing that anyway). And guns, same thing. let them figure out how to kill people on their own, don’t need to know how it works. Power tools too. any monkey can pick up a power saw and cut their fingers off without my help. By the way, do airline pilots get any training? Why? Seems silly to me. Let the computers fly the plane-and……………………….

    • Most people don’t take the time to learn how to use a computer. They just expect it to work and do what they want it to do. There is a real balancing act here and if you’ve ever tried to support customers, you would understand that challenge (including the fact that with millions of devices in the wild, you couldn’t hire enough support agents to actually support everyone who needed some help. Computers are complex and do a tremendous number of different tasks that all have to work together while at the same time interact with evolved monkeys to operate them. Granted, there are bad designs in anything, but this lawsuit is stupid. Apple has lots of money and those complaining know that. Apple may have some fault here, but the company these consumers bought music from should have made it easier for them to re-download music. Further, I wonder how much of the music in question was illegally downloaded in the first place.