New York (February 2, 2006)–Apple is under fire for its popular iPod music player, as the first known–and perhaps inevitable–hearing loss lawsuit has been filed against it. A complaint was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in San Jose, CA. John Patterson, a Louisiana man, is suing, asking for unspecified damages and upgrades that will make the players safer.
Of note to the pro audio and touring industries, the complaint also places blame on ear buds, noting that they can cause hearing loss as they “do not dilute the sound entering the ear and are closer to the ear canal than other sound sources,” according to the Associated Press.
Interestingly, the suit does not note whether Patterson suffered hearing loss from an iPod which he purchased last year. The complaint alleges that iPods are “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss.”
It’s likely, however, that Apple foresaw a day when a lawsuit like this might come along. Each of the 42 million iPods sold since 2001 has come with a warning that volume should not be set too high, or hearing loss might occur. These days, European iPods have a software-induced volume cap of 100 dB, in order to meet laws in various EU countries. The move initially created a low-level black market for US (i.e. non-capped) iPods overseas, but now there are numerous freeware applications available which pass over the limit, such as euPOD Pro, goPod and the imaginitively titled iPodVolumeBooster.