Apple Facing Lawsuit Over Who Owns The Rights To The Movies You "Buy"

The presiding judge has rejected the tech company's motion to dismiss.


U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez has rejected a motion to dismiss filed by Apple, who is currently under legal scrutiny from a class-action suit against how consumers "buy" or "rent" movies, TV shows, and other content in the iTunes Store.

David Andino, the lead plaintiff in the case, is arguing that under the existing user agreements, Apple reserves the right to terminate access to what consumers have "purchased," and have already done so on numerous occasions. News of the motion to dismiss being rejected was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

"Apple contends that '[n]o reasonable consumer would believe' that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely," writes Mendez in a court filing. "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."

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The technology company has side-stepped arguments of false advertising or unfair competition by claiming Andino has only allegedly been caused harm because "the injury is that at the time of purchase, he paid either too much for the product or spent money he would not have but for the misrepresentation."

Amazon is currently facing a similar lawsuit over Prime Video purchases, and both of these cases echo a distinction that the video game storefront Steam made more explicit in recent years: Under its current subscriber agreement, "the content and services are licensed, not sold... your license confers no title or ownership in the content and services." In other words, every time you "buy" a game on Steam, you're merely purchasing a license to it.

Back in 2012, an unverified news story was reported that actor Bruce Willis was suing Apple over the right to bequeath his iTunes music collection to his daughters--an ability that Apple currently withholds in its terms of service. Although the story was bogus, behind a paywall, and its existence wholly inexplicable, it did provoke a heightened awareness of these issues.

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