Do you really ‘own forever’ the movies (and tunes) you buy at the iTunes Store?

If you buy a movie online, you own it just as you would a DVD or Blu-ray disk, right? Well, maybe not.

Apple is facing a putative class action over the way consumers can “buy” or “rent” movies, TV shows and other content in the iTunes Store, according to The Hollywood Reporter. David Andino, the lead plaintiff in this case,  alleges Apple reserves the right to terminate access to what consumers have “purchased” — and, apparently, he’s right.

The Hollywood Reporter says that U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez made clear he isn’t ready to buy into Apple’s view of consumer expectations in the digital marketplace.

“Apple contends that ‘[n]o reasonable consumer would believe’ that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely,” writes Mendez. “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.”

Apple argues that Plaintiff’s alleged injury — which it describes as the possibility that the purchased content may one day disappear — is not concrete but rather speculative.

The lawsuit has lost its “unjust enrichment” claim. However, Mendez does leave open the possibility of injunctive relief that could force Apple to change the way it sells content. 

Meanwhile, better download and back-up all those songs and movies you’ve bought from the iTunes Store.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.

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