- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

From combined dispatches

Owners of recent IPods will now be able to set how loud their digital music players can go.

Apple Computer Inc., facing complaints and a lawsuit claiming the popular player can cause hearing loss, made the setting available as part of a new software update yesterday. The free download applies to the IPod Nano and the IPod models with video-playback capabilities.

Parents also can use the feature to set a limit on their child’s IPod and lock it with a code, the company added.

“As the leading provider of digital music players, Apple continuously brings IPod customers innovative and easy to use solutions,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president for IPod marketing. “With the increased attention in this area, we want to offer customers an easy to use option to set their own personal volume limit.”

Earlier this year, a Louisiana man filed a lawsuit against Apple, clontending that the IPod can cause hearing loss.

The devices can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, a volume that can damage the hearing of a person exposed to the sound for more than 28 seconds per day, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.

Although the IPod is more popular than other types of portable music players, its ability to cause hearing loss isn’t any higher, experts said.

Apple ships a warning with each IPod that cautions “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.”

Meanwhile, in London yesterday a lawyer representing the Beatles said in court that Apple Computer Inc. is profiting from the 1960s band’s trademark by using the ITunes music store to promote its own brand alongside acts such as U2 and Coldplay.

Apple Corps Ltd., which represents the Beatles’ business interests, is suing Apple Computer for reputedly breaching a 1991 agreement barring the manufacturer from using the Apple name or logo to sell music. Apple Computer has sold more than 1 billion songs through ITunes for its best-selling IPod music player.

The debut of ITunes marked a “radical change” for Apple Computer, moving the company from hardware and software to the music business, Geoffrey Vos Q.C., a lawyer for Apple Corps, told the High Court in his opening arguments in the case.

London-based Apple Corps, which is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, is seeking unspecified damages and a court order permanently blocking Apple Computer from using the Apple trademark in connection with the ITunes store. If Apple Computer loses the case, it may be forced to set up a separate music site, with no reference to its logo, lawyers acting on the case have said.

It’s the third time Apple Corps has sued the Cupertino, Calif.-based company over the apple trademark, which the Beatles have used since the late 1960s. Apple Computer was founded by Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on April 1, 1976.

Apple Computer denies wrongdoing and claims that ITunes is a software system that isn’t barred by the 1991 agreement. The company sells about 3 million songs a day in the United States through ITunes, which can be played on the company’s IPod players, Macintosh personal computers and other PCs, it said in January.

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