How to get your cut of Apple's $25 million Family Sharing legal settlement

Settling a class action lawsuit, Apple may pay out anywhere from $30 to $50 to each qualifying user of its Family Sharing program. Here's how to try to collect your slice of the bounty.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
iPhone 15 camera module
June Wan/ZDNET

Have you ever subscribed to Apple's Family Sharing plan? If so, you may be able to cash in on the company's proposed financial settlement of a class action lawsuit.

As described in the settlement notice posted online and emailed to qualifying users, the lawsuit against Apple claimed that the company misrepresented the scope of its Family Sharing feature. Apple allegedly promoted the option as one through which all family members could share a subscription to any third-party app. In actuality, app developers decide if and how people are able to share subscriptions.

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Though Apple has denied that it misrepresented the feature or did anything wrong, the company agreed to settle the class action suit through a $25 million payment. So, how does that affect users of the Family Sharing program?

Well, you might be entitled to your own small payout if you were enrolled in a Family Sharing group with at least one other person between June 21, 2015 and January 30, 2019, were a US resident during that time, and bought a subscription to a third-party app through the App Store. Those of you who do quality should have received an email announcing the settlement and your ability to take advantage of it.

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But the money isn't just going to land on your lap. To cash in, you first have to open the settlement notice page in your browser. In the first paragraph of the section called "Your Legal Rights and Options in This Settlement" is a link in the sentence: "You can choose to receive a Class Payment by clicking HERE." Click the word HERE.

That link takes you to a Payment Election Form that prompts you to enter the necessary information to get your cut of the payment. The email you received should contain a Payment ID number and PIN. If so, check the option on the form for "I have a Payment ID and PIN and I would like to securely file a payment election online" or "I have a Payment ID and PIN and I would like to download a personalized payment election form, print it out, and mail it in". There's also an option if you don't have the Payment ID or PIN.

Click Next and then enter the ID and PIN if you have them. Click the Log in button. At the next form, fill out your contact information, confirm that you met all the requirements to be included in the settlement, and then choose whether you want your payout mailed to you by check or sent to your bank via ACH. If you opt for the ACH method, you'll have to provide your bank account number and routing number. Click the button to agree and submit the form, and you're done.

Just make sure you fill out and submit the form by March 1, 2024. Any later, and you're out of luck.

Anything else? Well, this isn't quite a done deal, according to the settlement notice. Though Apple has agreed to settle the lawsuit, the court still has to render the final decision. And that will be based on how much will be paid out to the attorneys as well as the plantiffs.

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Whether or not you get your small slice, the legal team stands to benefit, seeking more than $8 million in fees, $2 million in costs, and up to $15,000 each for the Class Representatives who filed the suit and hired the legal counsel.

Is filling out and submitting the form worth the effort? The process only takes a couple of minutes. Each person who files a claim is set to receive $30, according to MacRumors. The total will vary based on how many claims are made, but won't surpass $50 per person. So, that's not a bad payout for just a few minutes of work.

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