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Apple sued for renting HD videos to older iPhones

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A Florida lawyer who rented “Big Daddy” from iTunes has filed a class acton suit against Apple(s aapl), claiming the company deceived him into paying $1 more for a high-definition version of the film — even though his phone did not support the HD format.

In a complaint filed in June in San Francisco federal court, Scott Weiselberg says Apple violated consumer protection laws and should compensate him and everyone else who paid $4.99 to download HD versions of movies and TV shows to older Apple devices.

According to the complaint, the first three versions of the iPhone and the iPod touch do not support HD video but Apple nonetheless made HD the default option for these devices when it released iTunes 8.0 in 2010. As a result, consumers like Weiselberg paid extra for an HD version even though, the complaint says, they only received a Standard Definition version of the show since that is all their device was capable of playing. The filing adds that iTunes was able to recognize that a device was SD-only but sold the HD version anyways to make more money.

The complaint says that Apple sold over 49 million of the older devices. It does not seek a specific dollar amount but says that “millions” of consumers downloaded HD videos to SD devices, and accuses Apple of fraud, unjust enrichment and violating consumer protection laws.

Here’s a copy of the lawsuit which was spotted by Courthouse News:

Apple iTunes Lawsuit Over HD

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14 Responses to “Apple sued for renting HD videos to older iPhones”

  1. HDonSD

    Actually, they can prove that the image quality of HD is higher due to chroma being sampled and heavily compressed, even on an SD display. If you have a 720×540 display, 1920×1080 4:2:0 content will look far better than SD due to better compression in luma, but especially chroma. The chroma resolution will also be higher, 4:4:4 vs 4:2:0. They did get an advantage, but not the full advantage.

  2. Unhappy apple customer

    Since Apple has taken an incredibly strong interest on how I can transfer files between devices and doesn’t hesitate to delete my iOS media files if I have the audacity of trying to use more than one computer, they really should not be in a position to charge HD prices for an SD device that cannot transfer the file to another device.

    The simple solution for apple would be to refund the dollar with a smile and an apology, and if the process was too tiring and their smiles were wearing thin, fix the problem.

  3. LeftCoastBlue

    This lawyer has entirely too much time on his hands. Does he seriously expect to cash in from establishing and winning a multi-million dollar class action suit, especially when recent Supreme Court decisions have complicated the process of obtaining class action status? I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries the same stunt on other providers of paid online video.

  4. Ricardo

    Folks, you are being too practical. It’s not about any device or movie. It is about the Millions the lawyers collect for”fees” if they prevail in a Class Action. A member of the”class” will be lucky enough to get a $1 certificate.

  5. Fabio Albertin

    Frivolous indeed. If you buy on a PC that can technically play HD, why would Apple want to sell you an SD version. It’s not their fault he hasn’t bothered to upgrade his device(s). I’d throw out the suit and give him a minor Darwin award.

  6. PetieG

    Is this not frivolous? I mean, granted you rented it on your old iOS device, that does not mean you where going to watch it solely on said device. It even mentions v8 of iTunes making HD the default, does that not indicate that he rented it from a computer? Was he able to watch the movie on any of his iOS/Mac/iTunes devices… yes… He watched SD on old iOS and could’ve finished w/ HD on iTunes, AppleTV, etc. no?

    • Mcbeese

      If you rent a movie from a Mac, iTunes will let you move it back and forth between iOS devices and ATVs. iTunes on the Mac manages the file transfers. If you rent the movie directly from the iTunes store using an ATV or iOS devices, you can’t move move the rental to other devices because (incredibly) there is no post-download syncing between devices supported by the iTunes store. This is the same reason why the Podcast App doesn’t play well with iTunes.

      This problem should not exist. I hope Apple gets a well deserved kick-in-the-butt from this lawsuit for failing to harmonize iTunes, iCloud, and the iTunes store. LONG overdue.