Apple Faces Lawsuit For Misleading Consumers On Movie And TV Show "Purchases"

Many an Apple consumer has had a rude awakening when they've discovered that their iTunes movie or TV purchases had suddenly disappeared. Owing to licensing issues or regional rights, Apple could delete previous purchases from a user's library without warning. Naturally, this has earned Apple the ire of people who used their hard-earned money to "buy" these movies or shows, but Apple is insisting that it has not misled consumers on these "purchases." However, they're now facing a lawsuit over this very issue, and a federal judge is not looking at Apple favorably.

A federal judge in Sacramento, California has rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Apple that claims the company misleads consumers on how they "buy" or "rent" movies, TV shows, and other content in the iTunes store, per The Hollywood Reporter. The putative class action suit claims that Apple is engaging in false advertising and unfair competition.

David Andino, the lead plaintiff in this case, alleges that Apple reserves the right to terminate access to what consumers have "purchased," and has done so on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Apple claims that "no reasonable consumer would believe" that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely.

But U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez isn't buying that Apple has made clear its view of consumer expectations in the digital marketplace. "[I]n common usage, the term 'buy' means to acquire possession over something," Mendez writes. "It seems plausible, at least at the motion to dismiss stage, that reasonable consumers would expect their access couldn't be revoked."

Apple also attempted to undercut Andino's alleged "injury" — that Apple has ended consumers' access to content they've purchased — by claiming that it's "not concrete but rather speculative." Which we blatantly know to be false. Mendez again sides with Andino and his case, writing that there is real "injury" here.

"[T]he injury Plaintiff alleges is not, as Apple contends, that he may someday lose access to his purchased content. Rather, 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. This economic injury is concrete and actual, not speculative as Apple contends, satisfying the injury in fact requirement of Article III."

Mendez leaves open the possibility of injunctive relief, which could force Apple to change the way it sells its content, either by changing advertising or adding a clause that informs consumers they're not really buying what they're "buying." But it could also end in Apple simply settling the lawsuit. However, this appears to be an issue that is emerging with PVOD platforms, as Amazon faces a similar lawsuit over Prime Video purchases.