Apple claims 'no reasonable consumer would believe' hitting 'buy' button means you forever own the digital content it sold you
Our high-tech overlords are redefining the word "buy" when it comes to online purchases of digital content from them. They seem to conflate it with "rent." Class action lawsuits are challenging the two most valuable companies in the world on this point. Tim De Chant reports in Ars Technica:
Apple is facing two class-action lawsuits over the meaning of the words "rent" and "buy."
In the first suit, lead plaintiff David Andino argues that Apple's definition of the two words is deceptive since the company can terminate people's Apple IDs and, along with them, access to content they purchased using the "buy" button. Thus, Andino is arguing that Apple allows consumers to rent content rather than purchase it outright. If he had known that his access could be cut off at any time, he says he would have not spent as much on iTunes content.
"Just like Best Buy cannot come into a person's home to repossess the movie DVD that such person purchased from it, [Apple] should not be able to remove digital content from its customers' Purchased folders," the suit says.
Apple countered by arguing that "no reasonable consumer would believe" that content purchased through iTunes would be available on the platform indefinitely. But US District Court Judge John Mendez wasn't buying it, as first noticed by the Hollywood Reporter. He rejected a motion filed by Apple that sought to dismiss the suit. That means the suit can move forward with its claims of false advertising and unfair competition, though it could still be settled before going to trial.
Apple is also up against a second class-action suit related to terminating Apple IDs. In this one, lead plaintiff Matthew Price claims he lost $24,590.05 in iTunes, the App Store, and in-app purchases, along with $7.63 in account credit, which became inaccessible when Apple terminated his account. Price's lawsuit was filed on Tuesday.
Amazon is facing a similar lawsuit:
Amazon is defending itself against a similar lawsuit filed last April by people who claim the company falsely advertised that they would have unlimited access to content purchased through Prime Video. They are concerned that Amazon "secretly reserves the right to terminate the consumers' access and use of the Video Content at any time," the suit claims.
If people don't have the right to use the content forever, they did not "buy" it; they "rented" or "leased" it. The vendors need to change their terminology and avoid using the word "buy." Make it clear at the time of purchase that they can revoke the consumer's rights to the content and that the content is not portable away from the platforms the companies control.
These tech lords may have the biggest lobbying budgets, but if any of their purchased pols try to change the law to excuse this sort of deception, they will be in trouble. It goes against common sense and against the self-interest of all consumers of digital content. If we bought it, they can't take it away.
Hat tip: AoSHQ.
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