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Do you really own purchased digital films? Litigation with Apple & Amazon


US courts are currently dealing with the
US courts are currently dealing with the “Buy” button on Apple iTunes

If you buy digital films and series, do you really own them or is it basically a long-term loan with an indefinite end date?

Does the “Buy” button on Amazon Prime Video and Apple iTunes have to be renamed to “You can use the content as often as you want as long as we offer it on our platform” button? This is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but this is exactly the question that two independent lawsuits against Amazon and Apple deal with. A group of iTunes users in the USA set the ball rolling. They felt misled by Apple’s button statement “Buy”, since Apple reserves the right to revoke access to the films. Among other things, the following can be read in the application:

“Regardless of this, all consumers have overpaid for the digital content because they are in fact not the owners of the digital content as advertised by the defendant.”

“Just as Best Buy cannot come to a person’s house to recover the DVD movie that that person has bought, the defendant should not be able to remove or have others remove digital content from its customers.”

Apple defends itself against “speculative complaints”

Even if Apple does not deny that access to films and series could be denied, should one no longer own the distribution rights, the company defends itself against the “speculative complaints of the plaintiffs”. It would be possible to download films via the Apple TV app and thus use them without restrictions. The content remains copy-protected. Unfortunately, films and series can only be downloaded via the Apple TV app on iPhone and iPads, but not on an Apple TV 4K or on a Smart TV with the Apple TV app. In addition, the quality is limited to 1080p / SDR. Features such as 4K / HDR / Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos could not be used.

Buyers retain usage rights

Apple also referred to a misleading report by Forbes magazine that an iTunes user could no longer access all of the movies in their iTunes library after moving from Australia to Canada. Simply because iTunes did not have all the distribution rights in Canada. It was also noted that should Apple lose the distribution rights for a film, it can only no longer be offered to new customers. Users who purchased the film before the distribution rights expired can still access the content.

We are also not aware of any case in which paid films or series on Apple or Amazon Prime Video were completely removed. It happens again and again that a title disappears from the shop for a short time and then comes back for a short time. This is often the case, for example, when iTunes upgrades an HD title to 4K / HDR for free. What do you think of the matter? Is it just an attempt by some US citizens to claim damages worth millions, or are there legitimate concerns?

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