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iPodClassicLawyers for the plaintiffs in Apple’s ongoing antitrust trial over its handling of music in iTunes have accused the company of deleting music from iPods that users bought from one of the company’s competitors, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Between 2007 and 2009, iPod users who plugged their music players into iTunes were told that they needed to restore their iPod to factory settings if they had music in their iTunes library that wasn’t imported from a CD into iTunes or bought on the iTunes Store, attorney Patrick Coughlin said. If they did restore the phone, they would have the music files, such as those purchased from RealNetworks, deleted from their library.

To hear Apple tell it, the decision to delete music was made to better secure its users from attack by malicious users. Austin Farrugia, Apple’s Senior Director for Internet Service Security and DRM Technologies, said in his testimony that the decision to clear out music from non-iTunes sources was based on Apple’s concern for consumer safety.

According to Farrugia’s testimony, the company didn’t inform people of the deletion because “We don’t want to confuse users.”

This is just one part of a massive class-action lawsuit filed against the Cupertino-based company, alleging that Apple wanted to lock users into its iTunes/iPod ecosystem with the company’s FairPlay DRM. Apple has since stopped using the rights management software. Plaintiffs in the case, which is being argued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, are seeking $350 million in damages.

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