SONY has been convicted of misleading the French public and told to pay damages to a consumer watchdog for selling downloadable songs that only run on its own music players.
France’s Union Federale des Consommateurs (UFC) took Sony’s French and British subsidiaries to court in February 2005 over the music download site Sony Connect. The lawsuit also targets Apple, maker of the popular iPod, whose case is expected to reach the courts later this year.
The UFC said Sony was convicted on December 15 of “deceiving” consumers about the nature of its product and of illicit product bundling, for forcing people who purchase a Sony music player to then buy its downloads.
Sony France was ordered to pay the UFC €10,000 ($16.7 million) in damages, according to the consumer group. Sony United Kingdom, which operates the Connect website, was also convicted in the case.
The court stopped short of demanding that Sony stop using DRM technology, but ordered Sony France to clearly state on its Net WM range of players that they will not play files purchased on rival commercial websites.