Apple earbud volume control case dismissed
A San Francisco appeals court today ruled that Apple isn’t responsible for possible hearing loss due to the volume being too high, as health experts share concern over the volume of MP3 players.
“The plaintiffs do not allege the iPods failed to do anything they were designed to do nor do they allege that they, or any others, have suffered or are substantially certain to suffer inevitable hearing loss or other injury from iPod use,” the judge noted. “At most, the plaintiffs plead a potential risk of hearing loss not to themselves, but to other unidentified iPod users.”
The lawsuit aimed for a monetary award, while also forcing Apple to disclose possible hearing loss issues, improve the quality of earbuds and to conduct testing regarding possible hearing loss. The problem is that the plaintiffs failed to provide any concrete evidence that the iPod posed a serious health hazard — they essentially said there was a potential risk of hearing problems, but didn’t offer any specific evidence.
The European Commission (EC) has forced Apple to upgrade iPods and software to help reduce the maximum volume of MP3 players — to 100 decibels — though Apple already did include a disclaimer with its products that “permanent hearing loss may occur if earphones or headphones are used at high volume.”
The EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks notes that around 5 to 10% of MP3 player users face permanent hearing problems after listening to volumes at levels too high.
I’ve never been a fan of the earbuds shipped with iPods or any other MP3 player, but it’s worth noting that Apple has slowly improved the quality of their earbuds. This recent lawsuit fell through, but it’s likely Apple and other companies could face similar legal cases, ranging from class action lawsuits to the U.S. government getting involved.
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