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Apple facing another lawsuit claiming media purchase buttons are misleading

Sonic the Hedgehog’s “buy” and “rent” buttons are now part of a false advertising lawsuit against Apple.

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Another lawsuit has been filed against Apple, alleging that the firm misled users into believing they were purchasing — rather than licencing — music on iTunes.

The class action lawsuit, filed Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, challenges Apple’s right to erase any digital content from a customer’s account without warning. Although the complaint is directed at the iTunes store, customers can now purchase content through Apple’s current OS systems’ Apple TV or Apple Music apps.

According to the lawsuit, digital property sold on Apple’s services is licenced to Apple and, by extension, to customers. In essence, the complaint claims that this does not constitute a “sale” of digital goods. As a result, it alleges that “buy” and “purchase” buttons on the iTunes storefront are deceptive.

The class action complaint, lodged Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, goes after the fact that Apple can remove any piece of digital content from a customer’s account without prior notice. Although the lawsuit targets the iTunes store, users now purchase content on the Apple TV or Apple Music apps on Apple’s modern operating systems.

As the lawsuit contends, digital content sold on Apple’s services are licensed to the Cupertino tech giant and, by extension, to customers. Basically, the lawsuit says that this doesn’t actually constitute a “sale” of digital goods. As such, it claims that buttons on the iTunes storefront that say “buy” or “purchase” are misleading.

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“Reasonable consumers will expect that Defendant is using the words ‘Buy’ and ‘Purchased’ throughout the iTunes Store and apps in the same manner as those words are used, and understood, by the hundreds of millions of people throughout the world that speak English,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather, the ugly truth is that Defendant does not own all of the Digital Content it purports to sell.”

A merchant like Best Buy or Target, according to the complaint, cannot enter a customer’s home and remove tangible media. This example is used to argue against Apple or other computer corporations reserving the right to delete digitally purchased content.

It also criticises Apple for selling digital content licences for the same price — or more — as identical retailing pricing for physical media in a store.

“Though some consumers may get lucky and never lose access to any of their paid-for media, others may one day find that their Digital Content is now gone forever,” the lawsuit says. “Regardless, all consumers have overpaid for the Digital Content because they are not in fact owners of the Digital Content as represented by Defendant, despite having paid the amount of consideration typically tendered to ‘Buy’ the product.”

This isn’t the first time a similar claim has been made. Another class action lawsuit filed in a California court in April claimed that Apple’s “buy” and “purchase” options on its services were deceptive. A similar complaint has been filed against Amazon.

Apple has previously been accused of eliminating “owned” user content. It was usually a technical or licencing issue in the past, and it was usually remedied promptly.

Apple now allows you to download material other than 4K movies to your Mac or iPhone. If content licences expire, the downloaded content will continue to play.

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