Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Videos Pulled From iTunes and Amazon Stores

Juli Clover:

According to the customer who noticed the missing titles, Disney elected to remove the content from the iTunes Store, preventing customers who have purchased the movies/TV shows from re-downloading the content via iTunes in the Cloud, which allows users access to previously purchased content.


On Amazon.com, searching for the titles results in a notice that licensing agreements have prevented the content from being purchased or rented, and as AppAdvice points out, Apple’s iTunes Store Terms and Conditions does specify that previously purchased content can be made inaccessible.

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Based on the update posted on the MacRumors entry, my guess is that Apple cannot remove an item from the store, while letting previous buyers access the content. The problem is that Disney typically makes their title available for sale during relatively short periods of time, as a marketing tool to keep you excited about old movies. Their "launch" new DVDs of old movies every year, and retire the "old" titles in a similar fashion. It's a fairly unusual behavior, that Apple apparently did not bother to take into account (?)

I can’t find the link, but when this was first announced there was a big discussion on ADN about it. Apparenlty Disney has said they are working with Apple to make downloads available. That works for Disney but there’s no guarantee with other studios. It’s a fairly common practice to take certain films out of distribution for a period. Disney does this so it can rehype the rerelease of classics. However other studios do it when a new film in a franchise is being released or to make a special deal with one supplier for a period. It’s rather annoying and I hope Apple fixes it for the general case and not just the Disney case. However ultimately Apple’s hands are tied as they don’t own the copyright.

@Charles and @Clark, I don’t really understand those saying that Apple’s hands are tied. They could have secured a contract with Disney saying that customers would retain access to what they had purchased. Or they could have refused to sell videos that don’t meet these standards. How many times did we hear from Jobs that customers want to own content, not rent it? If this “retirement” policy was known all along, it seems like the videos were sold under false pretenses.

@michael I was not not defending Apple here; in fact, it looks like Disney **wants** the video to be available, but Apple can't deliver. Regarding your argument, yes, Apple can try to be tougher, but it's a negotiation, and they are facing some very conservative media businesses, and there are other players outside of iTunes, so their negotiation strengths are limited.

Also, when you think about it, unlimited forever available downloads are not a tenable business. It costs money to host them, and the bandwidth also has a cost.

"Apple can try to be tougher, but it's a negotiation, and they are facing some very conservative media businesses"

But that's utterly besides the point. If Apple is not able to negotiate a contract allowing them to provide future access to 'purchases', then they have no business selling those items as 'purchases'.

(Or of course, they could do exactly as they did, and stick a disclaimer deep in the EULA that no one will read telling you to download and backup all Apple bought media. And that's reason #37 why I do my media business with Amazon instead.)