During a court hearing in Oakland, California, it's come to light that, between 2007 and 2009, Apple deleted tracks downloaded from rival music services off of iPods.

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According to attorney Patrick Coughlin, users who downloaded music from other services and then tried to sync them to their iPod using iTunes would receive an error message. That message told the user they had to restore the factory settings—and when they did so, Apple deleted the tracks in the process. Coughlin claims that the error mechanism was put in place so that Apple could "not... tell users the problem."

Apple's defence, from its security director Augustin Farrugia? It didn't need to provide a more detailed explanation because: "We don't need to give users too much information, we don't want to confuse users."

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The suit is based on claims that Apple had stifled competition in the digital music industry, with $350 million in damages sought. The case continues, with Eddy Cue and Phil Schiller expected to testify later this week. [WSJ]

Image by Carl Berkeley under Creative Commons license