Apple is being sued for suggesting customers can 'Buy' TV shows and movies

Polycount

Posts: 2,850   +575
Staff member
In context: With the rise of digital content distribution and consumption platforms like Netflix, Steam, and Spotify, the concept of content ownership is becoming a thing of the past. When you "buy" a song or movie from a service like iTunes, you're entering into a long-term rental agreement of sorts -- you gain a license to access the content at will, but it can be revoked at any time.

Some California consumers have taken issue with this concept, and are forcing Apple to stand trial over it -- well, sort of. The plaintiffs in this Sacramento case don't necessarily have a problem with licensing content in general; they just don't like that Apple tells its iTunes customers that their purchased content has been "bought."

The very word "buy," lead plaintiffs allege, suggests a customer has acquired permanent, irrevocable ownership over their copy of a TV show or movie. The plaintiffs' case centers on the idea that customers might not have chosen to buy a given piece of content, or at least not have paid full price, had they known that they were only licensing it.

Apple's lawyers tried to get the case dismissed, of course. The company claimed that there was no injured party here since the possibility of having your access to content revoked at a later date is "speculative" and not concrete.

However, as noted above, the plaintiffs are not concerned with future content revocation -- only the allegedly misleading claim that users can permanently buy content.

If you're here today, reading TechSpot, there's a good chance you already have at least a vague idea of how content licensing works in the modern age, and know full well that the internet's many "buy" buttons do not always promise full ownership.

However, not every consumer will understand that. Since a "reasonable consumer" could easily make that mistake, the judge is inclined to let the case move forward, with some adjustments.

It remains to be seen whether Apple will buckle under the pressure and attempt to settle with the plaintiffs, or push this case forward to a full jury trial. In either scenario, we're looking forward to seeing what happens.

Masthead credit: Charnsitr

Permalink to story.

 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,348   +1,510
You can “buy” digital games for Xbox or PlayStation and MS and Sony can revoke them at any time.... pick on Apple.... but maybe every company should be facing this trial?
YEAH! I've personally had a bone to pick with Mothers Against Drunk Driving for a LOOOOONG time. it doesn't make any sense. Dad's lose kids to drunk drivers too!
 
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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 434   +627
I actually agree with this suit. I don’t think there should be any damages, but I think any company only selling licenses to digital content should not be able to use the words “buy” or “purchase” in such a seamless way. Idk what the replacement word should be, maybe “buy license,” “lease,” or “add to cart.”

I’ve definitely seen stock image sites make this way more clear that you’re buying a license when you want to pay for an image. Apple, Google, and all the others just don’t want you to know it’s a lifelong agreement. In fact for some companies, once they find out you’ve passed away, they’ll terminate all licenses to content you may have paid for.

That said, I don’t know if this should happen through the judicial system. I would say a lawyer should only make a ruling in favor of the suit if there’s legislation addressing content license ownership.
 

Reehahs

Posts: 1,194   +823
If they allow you to buy it then they should be able to provide a physical copy (USB/DVD etc) of the digital goods.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 727   +617
You can “buy” digital games for Xbox or PlayStation and MS and Sony can revoke them at any time.... pick on Apple.... but maybe every company should be facing this trial?
Well maybe if gamers got off their lazy @ss, they could also launch their own legal challenge, but that would mean they actually gave a sh!t about anything.
 

GregonMaui

Posts: 271   +94
Wait, so iTunes users don't get a copy to download and backup or use as they see fit on any device?

Suckers.

/bandcamp ftw.
Well, they do get to download their copy, that is what is so dumb about this lawsuit and some of the comments. all the dude had to do is download his "bought" music/videos on to his computer and he would be all set. There is no guarantee that labels and/or Apple Music will continue offering the content in perpetuity. I had something similar happen to me with ripped CDs, I put them in apple sharing and I could get the high quality copies downloaded anytime I wanted to. They eventually went out of circulation, the ones I wanted - on my computer, the ones I didn't want, deleted but who cares, I didn't want them anyway.

To quote an old commercial "Where is the Beef?"
 

GregonMaui

Posts: 271   +94
I actually agree with this suit. I don’t think there should be any damages, but I think any company only selling licenses to digital content should not be able to use the words “buy” or “purchase” in such a seamless way. Idk what the replacement word should be, maybe “buy license,” “lease,” or “add to cart.”

I’ve definitely seen stock image sites make this way more clear that you’re buying a license when you want to pay for an image. Apple, Google, and all the others just don’t want you to know it’s a lifelong agreement. In fact for some companies, once they find out you’ve passed away, they’ll terminate all licenses to content you may have paid for.

That said, I don’t know if this should happen through the judicial system. I would say a lawyer should only make a ruling in favor of the suit if there’s legislation addressing content license ownership.
Not with you at all on that. you buy a CD/DVD, but don't have the right to copy it, that is a copyright violation (even though people do). You buy a digital copy with DRM protection, you can download it and store it on your computer, use it on any device, so pretty much the same thing, but more secure because you can back it up. You can't copy it without the DRM, but people do through various software. So. same same
 

envirovore

Posts: 186   +437
TechSpot Elite
Well, they do get to download their copy, that is what is so dumb about this lawsuit and some of the comments. all the dude had to do is download his "bought" music/videos on to his computer and he would be all set. There is no guarantee that labels and/or Apple Music will continue offering the content in perpetuity. I had something similar happen to me with ripped CDs, I put them in apple sharing and I could get the high quality copies downloaded anytime I wanted to. They eventually went out of circulation, the ones I wanted - on my computer, the ones I didn't want, deleted but who cares, I didn't want them anyway.

To quote an old commercial "Where is the Beef?"

Ah, thanks for clearing it up for me. As one that's never used (nor plans to use) iTunes, I wasn't sure what options are available to them.

Yeah, if the option to download and back up a purchase is there, they're most certainly buying it.
Now, if that download can still be revoked through iTunes (I'm assuming Apple doesn't want even their music downloads to be cross platform supported)...I can see this suit having a little merit.
 

Reehahs

Posts: 1,194   +823
It is called a download, do it. Why the guy didn't do that and then though he should sue makes no sense
The download is useless if protected by DRM that requires online connection. Good luck playing games that were digitally downloaded from online stores no longer functional. Not every store offers downloads either.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,025   +3,157
The download is useless if protected by DRM that requires online connection. Good luck playing games that were digitally downloaded from online stores no longer functional. Not every store offers downloads either.
Of course, it’s pretty simple nowadays to crack drm....
 

ET3D

Posts: 1,754   +401
For music, I see iTunes as better than a physical copy, such as a CD. Even with a CD you don't own the music, only the copy. With iTunes you can create several copies, and they're easier to back up than a CD (at least these days when CD drives aren't standard).

If people understand that content is all licensed, not owned, they'd understand what they're getting.
 

waclark

Posts: 48   +42
It is easy to often to lose your itunes content you apparently bought when you simply change country of residence. So I kind of agree to this suit.
Unfortunately this suit won't address that. This is all about labeling purchases. Apple doesn't control licensing, that is controlled by the copyright holders. Apple just isn't making it clear that you may lose content because you don't "own" it.