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Apple May Revoke Digital Content “Buys” New York Class Action

Apple, Inc. offers consumers digital content, including movies, television shows, and music, which they can choose to rent or buy. But the complaint for this class action alleges that this digital content is never really “bought,” but merely licensed. And when Apple’s agreement with the true owner of the content ends for any reason, consumers’ “ownership” of the content also ends. Thus, the complaint says, Apple is deceptive in claiming that consumers “buy” the digital content and in charging as much for it as if they were buying it on DVD or CD.

The class for this action is all persons who bought digital content from Apple in New York from the beginning of the applicable statute of limitations through the date the class is certified and the trial of this action.

Consumers can choose to “buy” content from Apple’s App Store or other Apple apps by clicking a Buy button. In exchange for their payment, they do not receive a hard copy or other physical version of the movie, television show, or music they have selected. Instead, the digital content is housed in the customers’ Purchased Folder.

However, if Apple does not own the content outright, it is actually not able to sell it to consumers in any permanent form; it can only license it. Apple cannot there truly pass title or permanent possession on to consumers. “Accordingly,” the complaint alleges, “when a licensing agreement terminates for whatever reason” between Apple and the actual owner, Apple “is required to pull the Digital Content from the consumers’ Purchased Folder and it does so without prior warning to the consumer.”

Thus, Apple cannot ever really “sell” a copy of the content to consumers, because its licensing agreements do not permit this. The complaint alleges that the purported sale of the digital content is “made more egregious because … Apple charges just as much for it as (or even more than) the store that actually passes the title of Digital Content to consumers, which access can never be revoked.”

The complaint claims Apple “likely misrepresents its ‘sale’ transactions for one reason: if it called the transaction what it really is, some type of sublicensing arrangement, it could not charge nearly as much as it charges for the Digital Content by misrepresenting to consumers that [it] is a sale.” Customers are therefore being overcharged for content they can never really own, the complaint contends.

When consumers rent movies, Apple charges $5.99. If consumers want to “buy” the movie, Apples charges $19.99. For the rental of a television show, Apple charges $3.99 per episode; when they “buy” an entire season, it charges $29.99. And when consumers “buy” music, it charges around $1.29 per song or $11.99 per album.

Consumers do not need to accept any terms and conditions when they “buy” this content.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Apple May Revoke Digital Content “Buys” New York New York Complaint

October 18, 2021

Apple, Inc. offers consumers digital content, including movies, television shows, and music, which they can choose to rent or buy. But the complaint for this class action alleges that this digital content is never really “bought,” but merely licensed. And when Apple’s agreement with the true owner of the content ends for any reason, consumers’ “ownership” of the content also ends. Thus, the complaint says, Apple is deceptive in claiming that consumers “buy” the digital content and in charging as much for it as if they were buying it on DVD or CD.

Apple May Revoke Digital Content “Buys” New York New York Complaint

Case Event History

Apple May Revoke Digital Content “Buys” New York New York Complaint

October 18, 2021

Apple, Inc. offers consumers digital content, including movies, television shows, and music, which they can choose to rent or buy. But the complaint for this class action alleges that this digital content is never really “bought,” but merely licensed. And when Apple’s agreement with the true owner of the content ends for any reason, consumers’ “ownership” of the content also ends. Thus, the complaint says, Apple is deceptive in claiming that consumers “buy” the digital content and in charging as much for it as if they were buying it on DVD or CD.

Apple May Revoke Digital Content “Buys” New York New York Complaint
Tags: Deceptive Advertising, Item "Bought" Is Only Licensed