How long will it take Apple lawyers to respond to this?

According to the New York Times, Universal, the world’s biggest music conglomerate, said it would offer albums and songs without the software, known as digital rights management, through existing digital music retail services like RealNetworks and Wal-Mart, nascent services from Amazon.com and Google, and some artists’ Web sites” but not through iTunes, the world’s biggest seller of digital music.

While I am a mere bleacher-seat observer of this and don’t even pretend to understand the law, I’d like to ask any trade-attorney-types out there the following: Aren’t there factors related to restraint of trade that would make it difficult for Universal to distribute product through all available channels but the iTunes Store? While I can completely understand Universal wanting to put the horse back in the barn by doing this, I would think (again, as a mere layman unschooled in such legal nuances) that the “public at large” would have standing in this issue.

Let’s say Universal made the announcement they were only going to sell DRM-free music through Walmart.com (it’s theme night). Wouldn’t that trigger a flood of restraint-of-trade complaints?

Why is this any different?

Even if it’s not a tight case, is there enough of an argument here to yank Universal’s chain?

For the record, this is a first: I’ve never come close before to encouraging or supporting any action by those lawsuit-happy Apple barristers.

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