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The Courts The Almighty Buck Apple

Apple Sued For Dividing Final Season of Breaking Bad Into Two On iTunes 458

An anonymous reader writes "Last night's episode of Breaking Bad was one of the most intense in series history, but for those who haven't seen it yet, don't worry, I won't be putting out any spoilers. You see, today's Breaking Bad news has nothing to do with Walter White's slow transformation into Scarface, but rather with a legal suit filed against Apple by a Breaking Bad fan. In a lawsuit that many saw coming, an Ohio man named Noam Lazebnik recently filed a class action suit against Apple upon finding out that the $22.99 he forked over for a 'Season Pass' of Breaking Bad was only good for the first 8 episodes of the show's final season."
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Apple Sued For Dividing Final Season of Breaking Bad Into Two On iTunes

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  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:25AM (#44797139)

    They didn't make the Breaking Bad series, they're not the ones who decided to split up the season in two. What's next, suing Apple because the new pop music album is crap?

    • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:28AM (#44797169) Homepage
      One of the cardinal rules of litigation is that the list of defendants includes everyone involved (in any way) who has money.
      • by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @11:03AM (#44797563)

        There are couple of problems with your quip. First, it seems this chap isn't going after money. The article suggests he is seeking only a refund... for all he deems swindled by this. Second, he doesn't seem to have sued more than his immediate interface in this chain of commerce. That is, he's simply trying to hold Apple to their apparently declared obligation.

        Actually, however, there are a number of reasons to sue multiple parties in many cases regardless of the amount of money sought. Sometimes it's pretty clear who did you wrong. Here it seems rather clear that Apple made a particular promise prior to a proper appreciation or understanding of the intent of AMC. But often it's not entirely clear. Next, suing all involved parties forces them all to get their act together (individually and collectively) since if any party doesn't show at court judgement may default against them regardless of actual guilt/responsibility. Sadly, it seems litigation is often required to get multiple bureaucracies to work together... or against each other. Which brings us to another reason - getting your opponents' lawyers to do your work for you as they endeavour to show the other defendant guilty.

        • by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2013 @04:48PM (#44802447) Homepage

          Pity this guy isn't in Australia. Apple would be forced to refund or give him both 'seasons' over here without any lawsuit.
          We have a government organisation called the ACCC to keep companies in line with their advertising.

      • by Dredd13 ( 14750 )

        They're the ones who advertised "This Season Pass will contain all episodes of Breaking Bad, Season 5" without actually verifying they had the rights to offer all that content for that price.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:29AM (#44797175)

      Apple did not split the new season in 2 parts but they ARE the ones that sold it as a "season pass" and didn't say anywhere that the "season pass" is not good for the entire season.

      To me its a fairly simple case of misleading advertizing.

      • by gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:41AM (#44797293) Homepage Journal

        Indeed. AMC's official stance is that this is one season of 16 episodes. For Apple to make the decision to consider it two "seasons" as far as "season passes" are concerned--well, I hope they've got some good fine print on that, otherwise they're boned. To me, "season pass" means "season pass," not "half a season pass." If Apple doesn't like it, they should take it up with AMC.

        • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:54AM (#44797445)
          Or, Apple gave AMC an account to upload content (as they do every other iTunes Content Distributor whether they be app, music, movie or tv) and AMC did it under the guise of Season 5 is 8 episodes. Just because AMC is covering their asses as SciFi did on many occasions in the past does not mean that Apple is at fault. Basically, it is the same as the DVD and Bluray copies sold as Season 5 during a mid-season break only to have 5.1 after the season truly ends. Or do you blame Best Buy for those too?
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            Apple is still the vendor and the vendor is responsible, even if they outsourced some of the work. If AMC broke Apple's rules then Apple should take action against AMC and refund their customers. If AMC didn't break Apple's rules then Apple's rules are ridiculous and Apple is responsible.

            And yes, I would blame Best Buy or any other shop if they sold something as "Season 5" and then released "Season 5 Part 2". Any normal person would understand a "season" to be the complete season's set of episodes, not half

            • by Old97 ( 1341297 )
              Apple did not out source any work. They own the store, really more of a consignment shop. The content owners set the prices and terms. The content owners provide the product descriptions, etc. Apple handles delivery and payments on behalf of the content owners.
              • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @11:55AM (#44798249)

                why is Apple being sued even if all they did was set down a box and say "hey consumers, good stuff will be in here" and "hey producers, stick your stuff in here". You'd think with that kind of setup they're doing nothing but acting as a middle man bringing consumers and producers together so they could engage in a transaction of goods for money.

                However, they didn't do this - to each side they said "we'll handle this", and charged a tidy sum for the privilege, Consumers don't see who produces the goods, and producers don;'t see who purchases them - Apple sticks a great big wall in between so that they, and only they, are the ones taking the big fat cut. As a result, the consumer has no-one else to sue - his business was with Apple.

                now, Apple might well decide to sue the producer in turn for not supplying the described product, but I fear that Apple, in their greed simply set up the box like I first described and left them to it - in order to make as much money as possible with the least amount of effort. And this is the result, no-one to blame but themselves.

                • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @12:48PM (#44799031) Homepage Journal

                  why is Apple being sued even if all they did was set down a box and say "hey consumers, good stuff will be in here" and "hey producers, stick your stuff in here".

                  I would argue that the customer shouldn't have to dig to find out who is responsible. From the customer's point of view Apple sold him the content and was the point where the text was presented. Now whether it is Apple or the publishers behind, is for Apple to decide whether they pass the buck.

                  In the example of Best Buy the relationship between the box and the store is a bit clearer, but if Best Buy has an advert saying something that incorrect and it has the Best Buy logo on it, then it is Best Buy's responsibility, even it was the publisher behind changing the offering.

                • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @02:08PM (#44800283) Journal
                  If I go into Best Buy and through their advertising they inform me that I can get all of season 8 of breaking bad on DVD for $X. If I then take the box home and only find HALF of season 8 in it, im going ot go back to Best Buy and say 'WTF'
          • If best buy advertised as "Buy the whole 5th season for 22 bucks" yeah it's best buys fault. They didn't advertise correctly. The problem with apple isn't that they sold half the season it's that they sold the full season and then it was broken up and you only got the first half. It's a bait and switch they should get a refund or the second half which they thought they were paying for in the first place.

            If AMC screwed apple then apple could turn around and sue their pants off for damages to them caused b

        • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:55AM (#44797475) Homepage Journal
          Fine print won't help if you can call this "Misleading Advertisement". False and misleading advertisement are both illegal; if you put something reasonable as a title on your shit and people are reasonably mislead, you're misleading. "Entire CD for $5!" *"We only carry 2 tracks of this CD as a bundle, you get the entire 2 tracks we carry as the digital version of the CD, you have to buy the rest" fineprint bullshit will quickly get you boned unless it is slapped right across the front somewhere most complete retards will spot it. The harder you bury that fine print, the guiltier you look and the less amused the courts will be.
          • by Mitsoid ( 837831 )

            Midleading Advertisements CAN be countered by fine print.

            Nearly every commercial that mentions a percentage or dollar figure will have a star(*).. and either a 1/16th inch print paragraph will follow(for tv), or one of the 100 fastest talkers in the world will chime in (saying the paragraph in 5 seconds)

            Both of which, while 100% unintelligible to 99% of the population, are legal defenses in court.

            And there's more ways they can get around misleading advertising. My favorite is the "I think/I Feel/I Like"....

            • Depends where the fine print is. Fine print often occurs on the cover of things, on the face. I've seen things starred and crossed and otherwise marked where you had to get *inside* to see the fine print, or where I've searched everything and not found the fine print anywhere but it was buried somewhere inconvenient and unnecessarily difficult to find. Fine print that's in legal documents that you have to read in full can be considered misleading.

              In my example, if the TOS says somewhere buried deep in

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mooingyak ( 720677 )

              There's a distinction between ambiguous and misleading.

              If I say that something is "20% better", the first question you would want to ask is "better how?", since 'better' is not necessarily easy to define. The fine print can clarify what I mean by 'better', because 'better' is ambiguous.

              If I say 12 pack of Awesome Brand beer for $10, and when you get it home and open it up there's only 6 beers in there, then you would be rightfully pissed. The fine print can't say "by 12 we mean 6". Fine print can't outri

        • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @01:13PM (#44799431)

          On a show called Talking Bad [] Vince Gilligan [] said at one point (paraphrasing) ... in part 2 of series 5 that is how our lawyers say we should call it ...
          To me this means several things in the way it was worded.
          1) For the creators it is series 6. Mr. Gilligan did not seem to agree with it being season 5 part 2.
          2) For the legal department it is series 5
          3) It has already been discussed (at least internally) on a legal level

          For all I know some parties might have asked to turn it into separate seasons, so they can sell it twice instead of once. That has been rejected for some reason.

          • by Ambvai ( 1106941 )
            I read that as Vince Gilligan saying "Our lawyers want us to call it Part 2, when it's still really just the same Series/Season 5."
      • I don't watch Breaking Bad or buy Season Passes but it this simply a case of impatience? I mean that not all content is released immediately. For example movies are not available on DVD before you can get it on PPV. I couldn't find that Apple offers the second 8 episodes for sale at all. The last episode was just released. Has it been released to Apple yet?
    • They are the ones who advertised a "season pass" product that is really only half of the season.
    • Because they're the ones that processed the transaction behind an ad that said "Season 5 for $22.99" without specifying that it's just part 1.
      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Even 16 episodes for $22.99 is way too much. You think AMC makes that much off cable viewers? No way.

        For that kind of price you could get the DVDs. This is why I wait for shows to be on Netflix.

        • by egamma ( 572162 )

          Even 16 episodes for $22.99 is way too much. You think AMC makes that much off cable viewers? No way.

          For that kind of price you could get the DVDs. This is why I wait for shows to be on Netflix.

          22.99 is for the high-def version; would you consider that an acceptable price for the Blu-ray disks? It's $14.99 for the standard definition. It is a complete rip-off for only 8 episodes, but seems like a decent price for 16.

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            For 16 episodes $15 would be fine if that was the HD price. For SD so long as it is 480P and in 16x9 I might be ok with it.

    • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:32AM (#44797203)

      No but they are the ones who are selling a season pass for half a season.

      Maybe things are different in the US, but in the UK at least the onus is on the retailer to make sure the products they sell are correctly advertised.

      If it's genuinely not Apple's fault, then Apple gets to sue onwards to the provider of the product to recoup their costs, but either way the consumer's purchase contract was with Apple, so the consumer is right to take it up against Apple.

      • The rules probably aren't as strict in the US. However, this is such an egregious example, that it's going to be a slam dunk. I'm guessing that Apple will wind up settling as half of a season isn't the same as a season. Especially if previous seasons were sold at a similar price.

        It does get a bit funny as it's relatively common for cable series to do 2 seasons a year rather than one long season, so that's a potential out. However, if that's a change from previous seasons, which it sounds like it was, then t

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Hey if we are going the bullshit route, why not 22 seasons, one for each week with 4 episodes each season, you know the chunks between designated commercial breaks.

          This is a straight up warning, paying before delivery from a modern corporation is a mugs game. The more they get, the more likely they are to lie, cheat and steal to get more.

      • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:44AM (#44797327)

        If it's genuinely not Apple's fault, then Apple gets to sue onwards to the provider of the product to recoup their costs, but either way the consumer's purchase contract was with Apple, so the consumer is right to take it up against Apple.

        Normally that is not how it works. Apple can request that they are excluded from the suit and the court can agree. The court has to determine this based on a number of factors. If Apple is simply a middleman or distributor selling a product based on the content holder's wishes they are more likely to be dismissed from the case. Also if competitors have the exact same arrangement, it is more likely the content holder is the one who has to address the suit.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Sounds like an excellent way for companies to avoid any responsibility for the products they sell. Pass the responsibility up the chain to some foreign company incorporated in the Kayman Islands, or to some factory in China. Someone you can't really sue, or who will simply declare bankruptcy and set up a new shell company the same day.

          The UK way is better. Hold the seller responsible for what they sell, and then it's up to them to sue their suppliers. Make it easier and cheaper for the individual consumer t

          • It's a concept in law called "liability.". And in life as well. People can't get judgments against you based on what your neighbors do. In this case what is Apple guilty of doing? If Apple took upon themselves to split the seasons, then they have more liability. If they are selling "as-is", then what should the courts do?

            If you get some tainted ground beef, what is the store's liability to you? The answer is: it depends on the store's involvement. Did they properly handle the beef? Did they reprocess

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              In the UK there is no such thing as selling something "as-is" or "sold as seen". Your consumer rights always apply, so unless something is sold as "scrap" or "spares/repairs, non-working" you can expect it to both work and last a reasonable length of time, as well as come with the statutory warranty even if it is marked "as-is".

              In this case unless Apple clearly labelled it "batch of episodes, may not be the complete season" then UK consumers have a right to expect it to be the entire season. The official se

    • by rgbscan ( 321794 )

      Traditional seasons are falling by the wayside. A "season" used to basically follow the traditional U.S. school year. New shows in the fall, running through the spring - with summers of re-runs. Usually 22 shows or so.

      Look at shows like the walking dead. Premiered on the last day of October. Ran for only only 7 episodes, then a long break until the following October. Shows like Supernatural and Smallville traditionally kept their summer reruns going well into fall, often debuting the new "season" in late De

    • You apparently missed the "Bloom County" comic strip from the 1980s in which sleezebag attorney Steve Dallas advises Opus the penguin, who has just been punched in the nose by actor Sean Penn, to sue Nikon - the maker of the camera he used. Because, deep pockets.

      Bloom County won a Pulitzer 1987. If newspapers today ran full comic pages with new Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side, I'd subscribe to a newspaper again.

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:27AM (#44797153) Homepage
    Clerical/technical fuck up. Probably soon to be fixed. Move along.
    • is not Malice of Absense.
    • I'm not sure what the person's problem is. It works fine for me when I hold it using my thumb, middle finger and pinky.

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:27AM (#44797159) Journal
    From what I understand, other vendors are doing it as well, and it was due to a decision by AMC. Besides, if they charge $2.99 per HD episode, and the season pass was $22.99, wouldn't it seem peculiar to give such a big price break for 16 episodes? Not trying to excuse Apple, just trying to introduce a little reason into the debate. I think the fault ultimately lies with AMC and the way they decided to break up the season into two parts.
    • Counterpoint (Score:5, Interesting)

      by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:34AM (#44797231)

      If the price is $3 per episode, why bother paying $23 for 8 episodes... to save $1?

    • That's understandable; however, the problem likely resides with their selling it as a "season pass."

      I wonder when it was that AMC informed its content clients (such as Apple) that it was going 16 episodes this season ;).

      To be honest, from a legal point of view this will come down to whether or not Apple defined "season pass" specifically in relation to episodes.

      I wouldn't be aggrieved by this (nor would you most likely) because I'd understand that I was getting episodes x normal price - discount, but people

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @11:01AM (#44797531) Homepage Journal
        No, from a legal standpoint it will come down to if it was reasonable to assume the customer knew what this shit meant. If there's a highly buried definition somewhere in doublefine print, folks start looking guilty. Misleading advertisement is a crime, and writing somewhere deep in the manual "You only get 20% of what you pay for, but we call it Full Package and show a picture of the other 80%, just you have to spend 5x more to get the rest really" will not be looked upon favorably by the courts. Putting in "Full Package!*" with "*Complete accessory set shown, sold separately; Full Package references the full standard set, not to include the full accessory set" directly below in half-size print will not get you boned in court, as the judge will look at the plaintiff like he's stupid for not reading the text shoved right in front of his face.
        • In a case of copyrighted content, it will also come down to what AMC wanted as well as they get to control distribution. If Apple is merely a distributor, their liability is less. If that's the case Apple's stance might be: "We don't control what the copyright owners consider a 'season.' "
          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            They do however have to deal with what a reasonable person would call a $X. You can't advertise or sell a BRAND NEW CAR, excludes tires, motor and windshield in tiny print. This is because those things are part of a car to a reasonable person.

            • No but a car coming from the dealership will have all those things included. The dealership can't take them off at their whim. If AMC has split the season into two (and judging by Amazon, they have), can Apple put them back into one season without their permission.
              • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                I am not sure, but they likely should warn viewers. Perhaps a simple system would be to include the dates in the season pass; Season 5 season pass, includes all episodes that air from DATE_X to DATE_Y. Another approach might be to warn that this is a very short season.

    • Yeah, but Amazon is really clear when you buy a season pass that you're paying $(n * 2.87) for the n episodes that have already been aired and $2.87 for each future episode as it comes out. It's very clear there's a per-episode price, and splitting it into multiple seasons has no effect on the total price paid.

      I have no idea if iTunes is as clear; I don't order from them.

    • AFAIK it costs next to nothing to distribute digital episodes, so a huge markdown isn't too suspicious. Steam regularly puts games on sale for 75-80% off.
    • by Dzimas ( 547818 )
      Vendors should simply clarify what a "season pass" is by listing the number of shows in the season. It's pretty hard to argue that you were mislead when iTunes tells you in advance that you're purchasing eight shows. I'm somewhat puzzled that this functionality isn't already included in the iTunes, Amazon and Google markets.
  • by Powercntrl ( 458442 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:33AM (#44797225)

    Meanwhile, the people who just download the series through torrents have no such problem.

  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:35AM (#44797253)
    I had something similar happen with Microsoft and Doctor Who a few years ago, support gave me credit to get the second half. /shrug
  • AMC split season 5 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LoRdTAW ( 99712 )

    Might be related to the fact that AMC split the fifth season into two sets of episodes that were aired at different times. For example, when the new episodes began airing last month, it was halfway through the final season making the one season feel like two. Perhaps someone at Apple made the mistake of thinking they were two separate seasons.

  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cowclops ( 630818 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:37AM (#44797269)

    Obviously, its a problem when "Season Pass" doesn't actually get you the whole season. If I hadn't RTFA'd I might have presumed that the guy was complaining that he didn't get access to either all 16 episodes including the ones that weren't even played yet (that would be absurd) or that he didn't get access to the first 8 + the ones that have been played already (not absurd but I wouldn't be on his side)

    If Apple's intention was that buying a season pass to season 5 of breaking bad would get you the first 8 episodes now, and the last 8 episodes when they were released to dvd/bluray/download, it would just be a matter of patience and I'd still be on Apple's side on this one.

    Except from the sounds of it, Apple was selling a season pass to "Season 5" and not listing it as "The first 8 episodes of season 5." They had no intention of ever giving him access to the last 8 episodes of Season 5 for that price, making it "Not really a season pass." Clearly this is a problem and the guy just wants his money back for misleading advertising. If I were him, I'd be ok with a gift card in the amount of the price of the first 8 episodes, since the second 8 will presumably be priced the same anyway, effectively getting me what was advertised. The whole season for one price.

    • The point is that he's not being given access to the whole season, just the first 8 episodes with no provision for getting the rest of the season. And being charged basically the same price as if he bought the shows individually. Which tends to reduce the point of buying a season pass as there's usually an episode or two that you don't really want in a season.

  • by bradgoodman ( 964302 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:48AM (#44797389) Homepage
    ...for a lawsuit like this!
  • Xbox Video did this too with the last season of Doctor Who. I bought the season pass for a steal when it was on sale, for like $8 or something. Then, new episodes started coming out but weren't on Xbox Video. It took me weeks to figure out that I had actually bought "season pass part 1" or some bullshit like that. I haven't bought anything from Xbox Video since.
  • I doubt any plaintiff could have any sort of standing without having already signed several mandatory arbitration clauses.

  • Did the Season Pass define what consists of a "season"?
  • and bunch of other sites.

  • by longk ( 2637033 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @01:41PM (#44799897)

    I felt cheated as well, when I found out I needed another Season Pass. But this feeling passed quickly when I noticed that Season 5 was significantly cheaper than previous seasons. The per-episode price didn't really change.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor