Apple must face lawsuit alleging that 'buying' media on iTunes is misleading

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited April 22
Apple must face a lawsuit claiming that it is misleadingly telling customers they can "purchase" content on iTunes or Apple TV, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The complaint argues that Apple is deceiving customers by saying they "can" buy media content like movies and TV shows on its platforms, such as the legacy iTunes app or the Apple TV app. It alleges that Apple reserves the right to terminate access to purchased content, essentially claiming that a consumer doesn't actually own it.

Apple tried to file a motion to get the original lawsuit dismissed. But, on Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez ruled that Apple must face the complaint, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Apple contends that no reasonable consumer would believe' that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely," Mendez writes in his opinion.

"But in common usage, the term 'buy' means to acquire possession over something. It seems plausible, at least at the motion to dismiss stage, that reasonable consumers would expect their access couldn't be revoked," the judge added.

Apple attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed with other arguments, claiming that the plaintiff's injury is speculative instead of concrete. Judge Mendez, however, disagreed with that assessment.

Judge Mendez did toss out the unjust enrichment claim of the original lawsuit. Nevertheless, he left open the possibility for injunctive relief that could force Apple to change the way it sells or markets content.

Amazon is facing a similar lawsuit that was levied against the company in October 2020. In its defense, Amazon says that users don't actually own content. Instead, it says that "buying" a movie or TV show on Amazon Prime Video amounts to obtaining a limited license to view the content.

Apple has faced criticism in the past for allegedly removing "owned" user media content. The Cupertino tech giant made no ownership claim like Amazon did but said that content users have already downloaded "can can be enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless [a user has] chosen to do so."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    DoomFreakDoomFreak Posts: 15unconfirmed, member
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    Scot180s_Apple_Guylam92103elijahgspliff monkeydysamoriakkqd1337pulseimageschemengin1narwhal
  • Reply 2 of 66
    DoomFreak said:
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    I think it’s a matter on syntax for Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, HP, every streaming service, and on and on. It seems contrary to what you post we are in an era of rapid change in terminology because of technology. I doubt Apple or every other digital service of any kind, is trying to ‘scam’ anyone but those living in the 17th century. The word buy seems to cause the trouble. I buy cars and houses  but don’t own them outright until I pay them off. Let’s change a bit of terminology and avoid court fights and calm down.
    lkruppravnorodomviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 66
    DoomFreak said:
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    mmmmh...though I understand (and actually share) the frustration, I also believe it is out of line to again shoot only at Apple. E.g. I can also not accept that Amazon’s Kindle content follows a similar logic, as actually most of the digital content. Part of the problem might also be the owners of the content itself, they still seem to ignore the lessons from the initial music issue after MP3 saw the light of day.

    So looking forward to the decision of the court here...just pleeeeeease stop being so one-sited, it is essentially an general industry issue, not Apple specific 🙏
    dysamoriaviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 66
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,028member
    DoomFreak said:
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    They never suggested that you don't own it. Within the constraints of the copyright law, you "own" the copy you purchased. What Apple say is they are not under the obligation to hold your purchased copy indefinitely on their servers. Your are under the obligation of downloading your purchased copy and store it in your possession.
    edited April 22 mknelsonhcrefugeeforegoneconclusionpulseimageswatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 66
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 53member
    The complainant has a point, buy is not an appropriate word for 'licensing music'
    elijahgdysamorianarwhal
  • Reply 6 of 66
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 777member
    The same holds for eBooks. Buy must mean access in perpetuity.
    psliceelijahgdysamoriapulseimages
  • Reply 7 of 66
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 736member
    larryjw said:
    The same holds for eBooks. Buy must mean access in perpetuity.
    Yes, up to a point (which Macplusplus made) - if you delete the eBook (or music from iTunes), does Apple, Amazon or whoever have to keep a download available "forever"?

    Or, is it more like how you can't get another copy of a physical book or CD after they wear out, or get accidentally thrown out?
    lkruppwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 66
    Apple is full of crap here and I hope they get hammered. You can’t have a buy or rent option, which they do, but claim that both are essentially renting which is what they’re claiming. 
    elijahgdysamoria
  • Reply 9 of 66
    ...is this kind of thing is encouraging the resurgence of vinyl and vintage audio gear ?  
    Has Apple been increasingly tethering everything it can since 2011...?
    edited April 22
  • Reply 10 of 66
    Digital downloads are just another form of distribution. Think about the VHS and audio cassette formats: magnetic tape is guaranteed to degrade over time regardless of how well you take care of it, so those were not permanent purchases either. You also have the 4K digital format, where a purchase will never involve the 4K file being downloaded to your HDD or SSD. You get an HD copy on your own drive and the 4K version is limited to streaming from the cloud. 
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 66
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,210member
    DoomFreak said:
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    You do own it. Or at least the license to play it as often as you want and keep it for as long as you want. Just download it into your device hard drive. Apple gives you that option at the time of purchase or any time afterwards. You can even back up those purchased media on to another hard drive, like Apple's Time Machine.

    The problem arises when you choose to keep on streaming it from Apple, rather than to save a copy on a hard drive. (Many people do this to save space on their hard drive.)  That's because Apple do not own the content. If the owners of the content no longer wants their contents available to the public or to Apple, Apple must delete it from their servers. It's not up to Apple to allow you to keep streaming contents that you bought, that the owner of the contents no longer want to make available to Apple. But the owner of the content can not force you to delete it from your hard drive. You can still play it from your hard drive for as long as you have the Apple account that it's tied to.

    Plus if you lose or damage your hard drive, you can re-download any purchased media from Apple for free, providing its still available on Apple servers. Try doing that with a physical disc purchased at Best Buy or Walmart.   


    edited April 22 mbdrake76seanjforegoneconclusionweirdsmithFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 12 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,110member
    Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Fandango, and many allow their customers to ‘buy' digital content. Are they being sued too? Why not? 
    edited April 22 fred1
  • Reply 13 of 66
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,110member
    Instead of ‘buy’ call it an ‘extended rental’ problem solved.
  • Reply 14 of 66
    I’m pretty sure if you purchased a movie and had it vanish from your library you’d be pretty pissed. Customers should at least be notified that it’s going to be removed and given the chance to download it. I know for a fact your average consumer would feel ripped off. I’ve had it happen and yes it does indeed feel like a scam when it does happen, but then again I have over 200 movies on iTunes. The movie lost was some outdated SD only thing I purchased way back when iTunes videos were 640. I can’t even remember specifically what it was. So I also know that it’s not a widespread issue, but it does happen and I’m not so sure it should be allowed. 

    The statement from Apples attorney is a load of crap. The exact opposite of the statement is true. No reasonable person would assume they are buying something but still not own it. 
    edited April 22 muthuk_vanalingamFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 66
    caskeycaskey Posts: 15member
    mylovino said:
    DoomFreak said:
    Apple is full of crap.  It is very misleading to tell users they can purchase something with a "Buy" button and then suggest that they do not own it.  I think they would get a lot less money , if they had a "Use for an unknown amount of time" button.

    They know people think they are buying it.  Purely deceptive.
    mmmmh...though I understand (and actually share) the frustration, I also believe it is out of line to again shoot only at Apple. E.g. I can also not accept that Amazon’s Kindle content follows a similar logic, as actually most of the digital content. Part of the problem might also be the owners of the content itself, they still seem to ignore the lessons from the initial music issue after MP3 saw the light of day.

    So looking forward to the decision of the court here...just pleeeeeease stop being so one-sited, it is essentially an general industry issue, not Apple specific 🙏
    This lawsuit and this article is apple specific because he's specifically suing Apple over the fact that they terminated his iTunes account and removed his access to almost $25,000 worth of content. The problem is industry-wide, but the focus of this article shouldn't be criticized for it's Apple focus. It's simply the circumstances of the case they're reporting on.
    spliff monkeyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 16 of 66
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,605member
    This judge must want to flood the courts with frivolous lawsuits based of semantic interpretations of common terminology. I understand the sentiment here, but like many others I’m wondering why Apple is being singled out for what is common practice worldwide. Or maybe I’m not surprised because asking why anyone is suing Apple is the same as asking why robbers rob banks - because that’s where the money is. I have to stop typing now. I don’t want any more of the magic leaking out of my Apple Magic Keyboard and I’m bumping against the throttling limit on my Verizon Unlimited data plan.
  • Reply 17 of 66

    The judge should have dismissed the lawsuit, he is wasting the time of the court system and taxpayer money.  The lawsuit is nonsense and those arguing otherwise are, from what I can see, simply attacking Apple.  “Buy” is the correct word.  One is exchanging something of value, money, for something else, a limited rights license allowing access to digital media where the terms of the access are specified by the license.  If “buy” is not the correct word, then it might as well be purged from the English language altogether because this doesn’t just apply to digital media delivered electronically.  It applies to almost everything you “buy.”  When you “buy” something you don’t get essentially unlimited rights to the object.  That purchase is limited by the contract terms of the purchase, the law, license terms, etc..  And it’s not just true for purchases of “digital goods” it applies to purchases of physical items as well.  When you “buy” a car you don’t get the right to disassemble and replicate the car and sell those copies.  When you “buy” a home you don’t get the right to just rip it down and put up a shopping center (at least not usually).  There are always, terms, conditions, laws, or licenses limiting your rights with regards to anything you “buy.”

  • Reply 18 of 66
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,287member
    lkrupp said:
    Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Fandango, and many allow their customers to ‘buy' digital content. Are they being sued too? Why not? 
    Not at this time, but they absolutely should be. This whole industry is full of shit.
    mbdrake76ZooMigo
  • Reply 19 of 66
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,553member

    It is something that's kinda' buggrd me for a while now
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 20 of 66
    Perfectly happy to allow Apple to be the whipping boy for this - hopefully other digital stores will get the point as a result.

    In the 500+ purchases of movies via iTunes/Apple TV, I've been fortunate (at least to my knowledge as Apple doesn't tell you if you're losing access to a title) to lose just one movie, thanks to the distributor pulling it from iTunes.  About 3 months later, they pulled the same film from Amazon Prime.

    In terms of downloading and backing up movies and media, this is becoming unrealistic to expect consumers to do this - especially when primary consumption is via the Apple TV device, iPhone, iPad, or whatever.  NASes and high-capacity hard drives are, I feel, still a thing for the more proficient user.  Besides this, you can only download the SD or HD version of the movie (so 4K is out) and you can't download the iTunes Extras if there are any.

    So yes, I think Apple needs a kick-up the arse for this.  But so do the distributors and studios, and all the other digital platforms.
    muthuk_vanalingammpw_amherstCheeseFreezepsliceFileMakerFeller
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