Biologist Anders Gonçalves da Silva was surprised this week to find three movies he had purchased through iTunes simply disappeared one day from his library. So he contacted Apple to find out what had happened.
And Apple told him it no longer had the license rights for those movies so they had been removed. To which he of course responded: Ah, but I didn’t rent them, I actually bought them through your “buy” option.
At which point da Silva learnt a valuable lesson about the realities of digital purchases and modern licensing rules: While he had bought the movies, what he had actually paid for was the ability to download the movie to his hard drive.
Apple isn’t the first company to fail to clarify to customers what they are paying for, and they won’t be the last.
Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with the “lease to download” offering described here. But if you sign up for any sort of digital content, you need to be aware of what you are paying for. This also raises the whole question of DRM and how may times you are able to copy a file — do you really want to have to pay for the same film every time you replace your hard drive?
In short, if you really want to own a film, buy the DVD.