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Apple faces lawsuit for telling users they can “buy” content on iTunes

It looks like Apple will have another legal battle on its hands soon. Currently, the company is facing a class action lawsuit over the iTunes store, with customers taking issue with the company’s handling of purchased content.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter this week, Apple is facing a putative class action in Sacramento, California over the way it advertises being able to “buy” or “rent” movies and TV shows on iTunes. The case argues that Apple’s labelling is deceptive, as the company reserves the right to terminate access to content, even if it has been “purchased” on iTunes.

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Apple argued back, claiming that “no reasonable consumer would believe that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely”. Fortunately, the judge wasn’t having any of that, saying: “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.”

Apple’s second argument was that the plaintiff in this case hasn’t had content revoked, making any damages to the person speculative. The counter argument here is that a consumer would have paid too much for the product, or wouldn’t have bought it at all if it weren’t for the misleading use of the phrase “buy” on iTunes.

For now, that’s all the information available, but this case will return to the courtroom again, at which point, there is the possibility for “injunctive relief”, which could force Apple to change the way it sells content on iTunes.

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KitGuru Says: Apple should take the Steam approach, in which if someone has purchased content, they can maintain access even if the product is removed from the main store after a certain amount of time. The fact that this isn’t a policy that is in place is a bit troubling, but perhaps this lawsuit could change that.

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