The idea of copyright control is becoming obsolete with the advent of digital content sharing and consumption services such as Netflix, Steam, and Spotify. When you “buy” an album or movie from a website like iTunes, you’re entered into a kind of long-term renting agreement: you obtain a licence to view the content at your leisure, but it can be removed at any point.
Some California consumers have taken issue with this concept, and are forcing Apple to stand trial over it — well, sort of. The plaintiffs in this Sacramento case don’t necessarily have a problem with licensing content in general; they just don’t like that Apple tells its iTunes customers that their purchased content has been “bought.”
According to the lead claimants, the term “buy,” implies that a buyer has gained permanent, irrevocable possession of their copy of a TV show or video. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit is based around the premise that if consumers had realised they were just licencing content, they would not have wanted to purchase it, or would not have paid full price for it.
Of default, Apple’s attorneys attempted to get the lawsuit dropped. The corporation argued that no one was harmed because the risk of getting your rights to material removed at a later date is “speculative” rather than real.
However, as previously stated, the plaintiffs are not concerned with potential content revocation; rather, they are concerned with the potentially deceptive argument that consumers will indefinitely purchase content.
If you’re reading TechSpot today, chances are you already have a hazy understanding of how copyright licencing works in the digital era, and you’re well aware that the internet’s many “buy” buttons do not necessarily guarantee absolute possession.
However, not every customer can comprehend this. Since a “reasonable consumer” might easily make that error, the judge is likely to allow the case to proceed with certain modifications.
It remains to be seen if Apple will cave under pressure and try to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs, or whether this lawsuit will go to a full jury trial. We’re excited to see what happens in either case.
Masthead credit: Charnsitr