Apple Sued For Selling HD Video To Older iPhones And iPods

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The ability to jump into iTunes and download practically any major motion picture ever created is just one of the many reasons why the iPhone and iPad have become so successful, but a Florida lawyer claims Apple’s HD video rentals are actually a scam.

According to a class action lawsuit filed this June by Scott Weiselberg at the San Francisco federal court, Apple may have violated consumer production laws and deceived customers into paying $1 more for HD videos by serving up HD versions of iTunes video rentals on iOS devices that don’t support HD video.

As reported by GigaOM, Weiselberg says that he rented the movie “Big Daddy” from iTunes but was forced to pay for the $4.99 HD version, even though his older iPhone doesn’t support HD. In Weiselberg’s view, Apple should compensate everyone who paid $4.99 to download HD movies to their older, non-HD compatible devices.

The complaint claims that when Apple released iTunes 8.0 in 2010, HD was made the default option when downloading video on the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch even though the devices could only receive Standard Definition video.

Even though iTunes is able to recognize that a device is SD-only, Weiselberg’s complaint claims that Apple sold the HD versions anyway just to make a little extra money. With over 49 million of those older devices sold, that extra dollar increase probably helped Apple rake in a few extra million, even though a dollar amount isn’t specified in the complaint, which can be read below:

Apple iTunes Lawsuit Over HD

  • Steffen Jobbs

    Dayam! That’s pretty slick of Apple. So, that’s how Timid Cooks gets a little extra spending money.

  • lowtolerance

    What a crock. When you purchase a video through the iTunes Store, you aren’t purchasing it for a particular device, you are purchasing it for your library. Those people who bought HD movies from their non-HD phones still had access to HD videos from iTunes on their computers.

    And, keep in mind that in iTunes-compatible was a *system requirement* for iPhones at the time, so these people can’t possibly argue that they didn’t have access to a device capable of playing these videos in all their HD glory.

  • Adrayven

    Meehh.. actually, Apple isn’t always in control if non-HD is available. Especially in the past 3-4 years. You often find non-HD is not available period. It’s HD/Widescreen or nothing.. Because of that, I think the lawsuit is already on shaky legs. Also, based on the fact that the customer had the option of buying the movie elsewhere, well, why didn’t he? I’m sure that would come up..

    Based on that line of thought any store, virtual / online, or brick’n mortar, could be sued for not providing SD movies for those with SD TV’s???? ???? ???? umm.. no..

    Besides, you can always side load movies you buy elsewhere, provided there is no DRM. Apple doesn’t have a closed garden when it comes to that. It’s open and legal by law as long as it’s for only his viewing use, and not reselling.

    And, as lowtolerance said, it’s a library purchase available on any iTunes capable device. That includes Apple TV, and your Windows PC or Mac, iPad, iPhone. It’s not like it’s stuck to that one device.

    Flimsy indeed….. and that was just me thinking about it for 30 seconds. lol

  • lwdesign1

    The presumption in the lawsuit is that people were intending to view the video on their phone, which may or may not be true. HD videos can be viewed on iPads and AppleTVs from anyone’s library. That said, there should be some recourse for people who have downloaded HD movies by mistake so that they can get the money re-credited to their iTunes accounts.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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