Friday, April 23, 2021

Apple Sued for Removing Purchased Content

Jason Hellerman (Hacker News):

You know all those times you “bought” movies on iTunes? Well, because of the way Apple licenses films from studios, you never really own them. You actually have rented them at a higher fee, for a longer time.


David Andino is the lead plaintiff in this case. He alleges Apple reserves the right to terminate access to any movie you “purchase.” And that they do this on regular occasions. He wants them to stop telling people they have “bought” things when they really have not.

Eriq Gardner:

This week, U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez made clear he isn’t ready to buy into Apple’s view of consumer expectations in the digital marketplace.

“Apple contends that ‘[n]o reasonable consumer would believe’ that purchased content would remain on the iTunes platform indefinitely,” writes Mendez. “But in common usage, the term ‘buy’ means to acquire possession over something. It seems plausible, at least at the motion to dismiss stage, that reasonable consumers would expect their access couldn’t be revoked.”

Damien Petrilli:

Yup. And some of the movies I got were removes sometimes.

Now I track the number of movies in my account to check which ones.

Apple should send at least an email to have the time to save them but they don’t.

And in another case, a customer lost more than just a few movies:

The complaint, filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, goes after an Apple services clause that states a user with a terminated Apple ID cannot access media content that they’ve purchased.


The plaintiff in the case, Matthew Price, reportedly spent nearly $25,000 on content attached to an Apple ID. When Apple terminated Price’s Apple ID for an alleged violation of its terms and conditions, Price lost access to all of that content.


The lawsuit doesn’t specify why Price’s account was terminated. However, it does claim that Apple shut down the Apple ID “without notice, explanation, policy or process.”


Update (2021-06-07): See also: Tim De Chant (via Hacker News).

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm surprised it took this long. The misleading and disingenuous use of the word “buy” has baffled me since the very beginning.


When MS closed its eBook store, they refunded all customers. So clearly some people think it's reasonable to assume that "buy" actually means "buy", and that taking back something somebody has bought without refunding them is, uh, what's the word copyright owners like to use... right, theft.

It is called greed. Greed, greed and greed. And cheating.

The question here is not whether you can use the content you bought, it’s whether you can re-download it after it leaves the store. (In the early days it wasn’t even possible to re-download your content at all.) I don’t think that’s an unreasonable limitation per se.

However, people have gotten used to streaming over the old purchase and downloading model. And they have gotten used to cloud storage. The iTunes Store model is becoming increasingly anachronistic.

@Peter Good point, although Apple has also made it more difficult to download and keep stuff. Content from the store is not included in iOS backups, so there’s no way to ever restore it or transfer it to a new device. To some extent you can copy it from a Mac, but now Macs are prone to purging media files to save space. Also, the media sizes are much larger now.

Old Unix Geek

However, people have gotten used to streaming over the old purchase and downloading model

That rather depends on where you live and how that limits your internet speed... Watching videos buffer is not much fun.

It is incredibly unfair for Apple to revoke access to purchased material, whatever reasons they may have had for terminating this Apple ID. Apple’s argument here regarding the meaning of the word "buy" is shameful and ridiculous. Unfortunately digital goods are trending this way. So many things are a service or only licensed now, which is frustrating.

I absolutely believe in paying content creators for their work. But situations like this are why I don’t buy media unless I can access unencumbered data with entirely local playback.

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