Apple Inc was cleared on Monday to delay implementing changes to the rules that govern apps used to manage subscriptions, a move that has been criticized by publishers as unfair because of its impact on their ability to make money on apps used to access digital publications and media.
The US supreme court, on a 4-2 vote, said that Apple had authority to suspend a new rule that had been widely opposed by publishers who support an open standard for subscriptions.
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Apple had not allowed customers who pay for subscriptions through their phones to uninstall the latest update to the mobile operating system (OS) that runs them, according to the decision. Apple must allow customers to delete the update before the rule could take effect.
The 2nd US circuit court of appeals had ruled on 4 March that Apple, which makes the iPhone and is known for protecting its own ecosystem of services, could not require subscriptions to use its own subscription billing system.
On Monday, the court granted Apple’s request to temporarily stay that ruling. Apple will allow its customers to uninstall the update from the App Store, and will give those customers 72 hours to return their phones for a refund.
The US supreme court ordered that Apple’s order to temporarily suspend the rule be put on hold until further order from the appeals court.
In January, the US supreme court agreed to allow Apple to temporarily avoid obeying a ruling from a New York federal judge that ordered it to pay publishers up to $533m for allegedly conspiring with book publishers in 2010 to limit e-book pricing, a practice that was outlawed by a federal judge in 2014.
The US supreme court said in December that Apple did not need permission from US district judge Denise Cote to delay paying damages after Cote ordered Apple to do so.
Apple spent more than $89m on lawyers and other costs in the Amazon case but collected only $1.4m, according to a review by Professor Douglas MacGillis, of the New York University School of Law.
Apple is just a target for Apple, not a contributor to the problem. A handful of the copyright-protected materials on these devices will be available to Apple not to Amazon or other competitors.