Archive for September 13, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Apple Can Delete Purchased Movies From Your Library Without Telling You

Anders G da Silva:

Hey Apple, three movies I bought disappeared from my iTunes library.

Casey Johnston (Hacker News):

When da Silva wrote to Apple to complain about the missing movies, Apple wrote back to him that “the content provider has removed these movies from the Canadian Store. Hence, these movies are not available in the Canada iTunes Store at this time.” For his trouble in notifying Apple that it had disappeared three of his ostensible belongings for incredibly dubious legal reasons, Apple offered da Silva not even a refund, but two credits for renting a movie on the iTunes Store “priced up to $5.99 USD.”


“You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (‘Redownload’) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (‘Associated Devices’),” says the TOS, but also, “Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.” For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.


As da Silva and others have pointed out before, the “Buy” button in digital stores is, at best, mislabeled.

Because of DRM, even if you keep a local copy of the movie you won’t be able to play it when you inevitably replace your device.

The Macalope:

This guy should get his money back in full.

Ken Kandel:

Happened to me too. Got three rentals in place of 30 episodes of the original Star Trek. Taught me to download everything and keep a backup of it. It truly pissed me off,

Scott Perry:

This has happened to me with music as well. If something doesn’t live DRM-free on your own storage, you don’t actually own it.

John Archer:

I have even been contacted just today by an iTunes user who tells me that dozens of films he owns in iTunes—many of which were actually bought in iTunes—have stepped back on his Apple TV 4K to HD, having previously being available in 4K.

Rene Ritchie:

Movies appearing and disappearing in iTunes (or any service) as the studio agreements dictate has been happening for years. Totally customer hostile and studio agreements should prevent it but it’s not new.

Previously: Outlawed by Amazon DRM.

Update (2018-09-14): Bob Burrough:

The problem appears to be a mismatch between legal reality and customer expectation. Customers are broadly under the impression that if they have purchased content, they will be able to download that content indefinitely.


  1. Legal reality is not what customers want.
  2. Apple doesn’t try very hard to communicate the actual reality.
  3. Customer not notified when content removed.
  4. Apple (and, I guess, the content provider, too) keeps the money after removing the content.


Also, even if you have a local copy, [local desktop copies] won’t be in full 4K resolution (iTunes only supports up to 1080p). So it’s not really a solution, unless you accept downgraded quality.

There’s also a similar case with purchased music. I’ve purchased The Wall (Deluxe Edition) with iTunes LP. Item has since become unavailable - I can only get songs but not LP. Apple’s solution? 5 song credits. Thankfully, I had the LP stored on my old PC.

Ashley Bischoff clarifies that iPads can cache 4K video locally, though I don’t think the cache survives restoring from backup.

Update (2018-09-20): Sean Hollister (Hacker News):

When we reached out to da Silva, he clarified the disparity: He moved to Canada, roughly nine months ago, after purchasing the films in Australia. Not only is that two separate countries, it’s two separate iTunes Store regions. Perhaps Canada doesn’t offer those films anymore, and that left him unable to access them in his new location?

The thing is, those three titles -- Cars, Cars 2 and The Grand Budapest Hotel, according to da Silva -- are still available to purchase in both Australia and Canada, CNET confirmed. He could buy new “Canada” copies right now. So why are his “Australia” copies gone?


Indeed, those movies may still be stored in da Silva’s Australian account -- but he can’t easily switch back to the Australian region to download them again.

So Apple Support was mistaken when they told him that the content provider had removed the movies.


The big takeaway here is that media licensing is a hot mess. Region locking was a big headache when DVDs were the big thing, and now we’re seeing a version of that with digital movie purchases.

Downloading a digital purchase means you have the movie and it won’t disappear from your library. If iTunes checks the license when you play it, however, you may still be locked out from watching.

Dominik Wagner:

If you switch countries of your apple account, content might disappear. So nothing new really, just something to keep in mind. As a german with both an American and a German account im intricately aware of this sadness.

Kirk McElhearn:

But Apple does remove content from the iTunes Store from time to time. They don’t do it on their own; it’s the rights holders who pull it. I’ve found several albums I had purchased in the early days of the iTunes Store are no longer available for redownload.

And this is much more common with music on Apple Music. I have a playlist of music that iTunes shows as “No Longer Available,” which currently contains 674 items. In some cases, albums have been replaced by updated versions, so I could find some of that music again. But I’ve found this to be quite frequent, even with the eclectic music I listen to.

EU Approves Controversial Copyright Directive

James Vincent:

The directive was originally rejected by MEPs in July following criticism of two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed the “link tax” and “upload filter” by critics. However, in parliament this morning, an updated version of the directive was approved, along with amended versions of Articles 11 and 13. The final vote was 438 in favor and 226 against.

The fallout from this decision will be far-reaching, and take a long time to settle. The directive itself still faces a final vote in January 2019 (although experts say it’s unlikely it will be rejected). After that it will need to be implemented by individual EU member states, who could very well vary significantly in how they choose to interpret the directive’s text.


The legislation requires that platforms proactively work with rightsholders to stop users uploading copyrighted content. The only way to do so would be to scan all data being uploaded to sites like YouTube and Facebook. This would create an incredible burden for small platforms, and could be used as a mechanism for widespread censorship.

Via Dan Masters:

This is a shocking attack to the very nature of the internet—I’m surprised it didn’t gain as much coverage as similar US bills.


Worst possible outcome in the European Parliament copyright vote: MEPs vote for #uploadfilters , #linktax, a narrow #TDM exception for data-mining, no #freedomofpanorama—plus a new IP right for sports organizers.


As I was saying... GDPR is the biggest backdoor ever created and the single greatest threat to data privacy. The EU made your data available to anyone that can get your password and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Previously: Europe’s New Copyright Rules.

This is legislative fantasizing at its finest: Internet platforms should get a license from all copyright holders, but if they don’t want to (or, more realistically, are unable to), then they should keep all copyrighted material off of their platforms, even as they allow all non-infringing work and exceptions. This last bit is a direct response to the “meme ban” framing: memes are OK, but the exception “should only be applied in certain special cases which do not conflict with normal exploitation of the work or other subject-matter concerned and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholder.” That’s nearly impossible for a human to parse; expecting a scalable solution — which yes, inevitably means content filtering — is absurd. There simply is no way, especially at scale, to preemptively eliminate copyright violations without a huge number of mistakes.

The question, then, is in what direction those mistakes should run. Through what, in retrospect, are fortunate accidents of history, Internet companies are mostly shielded from liability, and need only respond to takedown notices in a reasonable amount of time. In other words, the system is biased towards false negatives: if mistakes are made, it is that content that should not be uploaded is. The Copyright Directive, though, would shift the bias towards false positive: it mistakes are made, it is that allowable content will be blocked for fear of liability.

Article 13 would make it so that every online community, platform, or service would have to implement filters for copyrighted content. Even worse, these latest proposals have gutted exceptions for artists and scientists. The Copyright Directive is headed to the European Parliament and will be voted on in either March or April.

Nick Heer:

It isn’t clear how non-automated intervention is supposed to sort through the four hundred hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube and figure out whether the use of any identified copyrighted material constitutes a violation. Perhaps this is a stealthy way of forcing giant platforms to scale back.

Also, contrary to the New York Timesinexplicable framing, this seems like it could be a windfall for Google. As Reynolds says in an accompanying video, it’s likely Google will license YouTube’s Content ID system to third parties.


Turns out that nine representatives who intended to vote for amendments that would have removed Articles 11 and 13 from the Directive voted against those amendments by mistake. Parliament is refusing to honour their intended votes even though they messed with the voting order which caused this confusion and which would have been enough votes to change the result. Disgraceful.

Brent Simmons:

Will it still be legal to distribute an RSS reader in Europe? I honestly don’t know, but would like to know.

Josh Centers:

The European Union has passed the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, with its controversial Articles 11 and 13 […]. According to the Wikimedia Foundation, Article 11 will require licenses for nearly all online uses of news content, and Article 13 will impose liability on platforms for copyright-infringing content uploaded by users unless they meet a number of stringent requirements. In a statement, YouTube said the final version was an improvement, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is more alarmed than ever. The EU insists the rules are to protect artists, while critics say they’re a crackdown on user-generated content. Member nations have several years to write the Copyright Directive into their own laws, though they’re sure to be challenged in court.