Recently, Apple forced Digital Music News (“DMN”), a website that covers news and information for the music industry, to pull an iTunes Radio contract from their website, citing copyright infringement as the reason for removal.
The contract, leaked by DMN in late June, was for independent, non-major record labels that didn’t have directly negotiated deals with Apple. DMN alleges that the contract forced “sub-standard terms” on all but the most distinguished independent record labels. That is, the deals with independent record labels were starkly different than those with major record labels. Notably, this allegation is based on information obtained from an unnamed source, as copies of Apple’s contract with major labels have not been leaked. DMN, along with others who think Apple went too far, claim that the forcible removal was Apple’s way of suppressing information, not honoring copyright laws.
While it is rare to copyright a contract, it is within the bounds of the law. Specifically, as is the situation here, Apple owns the words of the contract, not the information. Thus, it’s likely that had DMN summarized the contract in its own words, Apple wouldn’t have taken action.