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Ohio man sues Apple over 'Breaking Bad' Season Pass split

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.





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. TimVFR

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-23-02

    These people really need to get a life!! And our court system needs to start ignoring these BS suits, along with those brought by patent trolls.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    How do you spell "moron"? Okay, got it.

  1. Stuke

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-11-05

    Good for him

    When you buy something as a "Season Pass," one naturally expects to get the "5th and Final Season." He is making a point that I hope doesn't collapse.

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 07-25-06

    As the article notes, Apple priced this 'season' based on the number of episodes customers were getting. I wasn't deceiving to make more money. The deception flows from AMC's calling a half-season a season. This disgruntled fan should be suing them instead.

    I can never understand fans who, no badly how mistreated, remain fans. No show is worth getting treated like dirt. Quit watching and encourage friends to do the same. And if you must sue, go after the AMC.

  1. ebeyer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-09-04

    I believe this qualifies as a 'first world problem'. While I also have disdain for television seasons shrinking over the years (ST: TNG seasons were 20-25 episodes each) I don't think a lawsuit against the content distributer is the way to fix the problem.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    "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."

    Yes, sometimes they do, actually. And without refund.

    These things are privileges, not rights. You don't have a right to view an entire football game, and you don't have a right to view an entire opera. You do, however, have the privilege of watching football games and operas, at the sole discretion of the owners of private property you've been granted limited access to.

    In other words, I understand the connection he was trying to make (when you buy something, you buy the WHOLE something, not part of it), but it's kind of a bad analogy since there are lots of little differences between buying a ticket for admission to an event held on private property, and renting a guarantee of some number of episodes being streamed to your home.

    Aren't all the episodes that are included in that particular Season Pass clearly listed before you rent/buy the season? If so, it sounds like this guy is just miffed that he has to pay twice for what he historically only had to pay once. Sucks, but I don't see what's illegal about it.

    Haven't other shows split a single "season" into two seasons before? I suppose this all hinges on whether or not a "season" can be legally defined as a length of time (Fall to Spring), or a specific number of episodes (16), or whether it's just a term that can be used however one sees fit.

  1. NapMan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-12-07

    Amazon sold it as two separate seasons too. The DVD/Blu-ray sets are sold as two separate purchases too. I don't like it either but Apple is not the bad guy here.

  1. Sebastien

    Registered User

    Joined: 04-29-00

    Apple Treads Lightly After Lawsuit, Gives Away Breaking Bad iTunes Passes For Final Season | Cult of Mac

    ... and all the fanboys now go silent.

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