updated 08:15 pm EDT, Mon September 9, 2013
Likely to be dismissed due to content owners determining 'seasons'
Noam Lazebnik of Ohio has filed suit against Apple, saying that the company should not have advertised a "season pass" to the fifth season of the hit television series Breaking Bad that does not contain what he considers to be the full season. Apple is one of several resellers who offer streaming downloads of the show, most of which have offered the currently-airing second set of eight episodes as "Season 6," apparently as set by the show's producer, American Movie Classics (AMC). The case, should it get to trial, is likely to center on which company determined the "seasons."
It should be noted that Apple priced the "season pass" in line with the cost of eight episodes, not 16 -- and that it is unlikely that Apple is responsible for AMC's decision to break up the "season" into two halves, the last few episodes of which have yet to air (thus the designation on Amazon and other sellers of the second set as "Season Six"). Nonetheless, Lazebnik filed suit in San Jose under California's breach-of-contract and consumer protection laws, saying that Apple owes him and other fans of the show the full HD or SD price of the season pass -- $22 or $15, respectively -- for not including all 16 episodes.
"When a consumer buys a ticket to a football game, he does not have to leave at halftime," notes the claim. "When a consumer buys an opera ticket, he does not get kicked out at intermission." The lawsuit notes that the actors and creators of the show have frequently described the 16 final episodes of the drama as "Season Five."
Critics have been quick to point out that it was the AMC network, not Apple, which made the decision to split the series in order to draw out the ratings for the massively-followed show. Apple's original Season Pass for "Season Five" mentioned in its fine print that it covered "all episodes airing in 2012," when the season began. However, the page description still said that the Season Pass would include "all current and future episodes of Season Five," opening a legal loophole. Given the original pricing and wording, it appears that the company knew from the start that the season would be split into two.
The iTunes Store, like other retailers, now shows the remaining eight shows as "The Final Season," and is charging the same amount for a Season Pass to what it promotes as "all current and future episodes of the final season." However, unless the plaintiff can prove that it was Apple's decision to handle the season split in this manner, the lawsuit will likely be thrown out, since the producers and AMC are not named in the current legal action.