Amazon says users don't own content bought on Prime Video

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2020
When you purchase a TV show or movie on Amazon Prime Video, you don't actually own it. At least, that's Amazon's argument in an effort to dismiss a lawsuit on Monday.

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon


Amazon on Monday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging unfair competition and false advertising, per The Hollywood Reporter. That lawsuit, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, accused Amazon of "secretly" reserving the right to end a consumer's access to Prime content.

In its motion, Amazon claims that the plaintiff in the case, Amanda Caudel, didn't suffer any injury because of its terms of service. The retail giant pointed out that Caudel continued to buy content on Prime since filing the lawsuit in April.

More than that, Amazon argues that its site user agreements clearly state that user's aren't actually purchasing a piece of content. Instead, they're buying a limited license for "on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time."

"The most relevant agreement here -- the Prime Video Terms of Use -- is presented to consumers every time they buy digital content on Amazon Prime Video," Amazon attorney David Biderman wrote in the motion. "These Terms of Use expressly state that purchasers obtain only a limited license to view video content and that purchased content may become unavailable due to provider license restriction or other reasons."

Additionally, Amazon says that users don't actually need to read the terms of use in order to be bound by it. All they need to do is agree to it, which is part of the sign-up process.

"A merchant term of service agreement in an online consumer transaction is valid and enforceable when the consumer had reasonable notice of the terms of service," Biderman wrote.

Amazon's service isn't the only one that offers "licenses" instead of actual products. In 2019, Microsoft began warning users that they would lose access to books purchased through the Microsoft Store.

It isn't clear what Apple's stance on the issue is. Back in 2018, in response to complaints about disappearing iTunes films, Apple said in a statement that "any movies you've already downloaded can be enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless you've chosen to do so."

In its own legal terms, it says that some content "may not be available for Redownload if that content is no longer offered on our Services."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 65
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    edited October 2020 canuckleheadflydogaderutterrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 65
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Not quite the same.  I have stacks of DVD's and Blu-Ray's that have been on my shelves for 10 years.  They aren't going anywhere and will always be available to play.
    A movie purchased at Apple that the studio has decided it did not want to sell through Apple anymore would be gone the next time I wanted to play it.  POOF!  Sure, download it.  Right.  No one does that except maybe to an iPad or iPhone then what good is it?  Get a new phone or iPad and the download is gone.


    BeatswilliamlondonelijahgGeorgeBMacStrangeDayskudushamino
  • Reply 3 of 65
    rchgrchg Posts: 3member
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Except that, say, the music label does not enter your home and take the CD away just because the artist changed the label/publisher.

    BeatselijahgFileMakerFellerGeorgeBMacSpamSandwichspock1234saarekStrangeDaysshaminobeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 65
    rchg said:
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Except that, say, the music label does not enter your home and take the CD away just because the artist changed the label/publisher.

    Its quite different from CDs, DVDs, books. When you buy one of these you own the fixed medium on which the content is written. You can sell it, give it away, destroy it, but you do OWN the medium. 

    That is far different from today's "ownership" -- the content is fixed temporarily and ephemeral. You make copies, for example, when your systems are backed-up but mostly it is very little different from a limited rental. 
    elijahgcitpeksGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 65
    ITGUYINSD said:
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Not quite the same.  I have stacks of DVD's and Blu-Ray's that have been on my shelves for 10 years.  They aren't going anywhere and will always be available to play.
    A movie purchased at Apple that the studio has decided it did not want to sell through Apple anymore would be gone the next time I wanted to play it.  POOF!  Sure, download it.  Right.  No one does that except maybe to an iPad or iPhone then what good is it?  Get a new phone or iPad and the download is gone.


    Not sure where you’re getting that from. 15 or 20 years ago I received a code to download Enemy of the State on iTunes. It was in SD. Years later Apple started upgrading previous purchases to HD. Out of curiosity I checked to see if Enemy of the State was included only to find out it was no longer listed in the store, except I could still watch it (in SD). Now it’s back and is in HD and my copy was automatically upgraded.

    Also, this article is about Prime Video so it’s a little strange you’re trying to throw Apple under the bus.
    emoellerchasmrandominternetpersondanhRayz2016matrix077spock1234pscooter63aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 65
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,611member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Not quite the same.  I have stacks of DVD's and Blu-Ray's that have been on my shelves for 10 years.  They aren't going anywhere and will always be available to play.
    A movie purchased at Apple that the studio has decided it did not want to sell through Apple anymore would be gone the next time I wanted to play it.  POOF!  Sure, download it.  Right.  No one does that except maybe to an iPad or iPhone then what good is it?  Get a new phone or iPad and the download is gone.
    “Nobody does that” ... except the people who can read and think. Unless you are using no backup system whatsoever, your digital purchases are backed up on at least an external hard drive, so you have in fact downloaded those e-books, movies, music, etc, and Apple’s license with you explicitly says they will not magically reach into that backup and remove the file. If you can’t be bothered to back up your purchases, dude, that’s on you ... not these sellers.

    I rarely purchase digital goods, but when I do backing them up is the literal first thing I do with them. That won’t make them last forever, of course — as with VHS, Beta, Laserdisc and a hundred other formats, the format these purchases are in may no longer work someday, or Apple could go out of business (purchases still need to be authenticated for ownership), the earth’s magnetic polarity could reverse, et al — but the license I have for the personal use for the audio CDs I own, the DVDs and Blu-rays I have, and the digital files I bought from Apple — can be reasonably expected to continue working (for me, at least) for a few decades yet. All of these were not “ownership” purchases, they were limited, personal use licenses. So this concept has been around since at least when records became a thing (I mean originally).

    Sorry if you find this shocking. Hopefully you read other agreements/contracts in your life and business more carefully than it would seem you read license agreements.
    williamlondonstompyrandominternetpersonpscooter63aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 65
    Apple boasts various "family plans", but if one member of a family dies, specifically, the member whose name the family plan is listed under, can the family plan be transferred to another family member? For that matter, can a dead spouse use his will bequeath ownership of his personal Apple plans to his living spouse? The surviving spouse may want to watch all the movies that the dead spouse purchased while alive. I'm talking about cases where the surviving spouse or family doesn't know the PIN for the dead person. And even if they did know the PIN, could they change the name of the account holder who has died?

    P.S. I know I said I wouldn't post anything for 48 hours because I made a technical mistake in a post yesterday, but this post is merely a question, I'm not stating anything as fact. So I'm granting myself an exemption on my self-imposed restriction.
  • Reply 8 of 65
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,323member
    We went through this back in Napster days. People tried to argue they “owned” the music they “bought” on record, tape, or CD. Therefore they could “share” their “property” as they saw fit. That kind of logic lead to DRM and the DCMA. Read the fine print will you. 

    That being said it’s quite shitty to pay for a so-called permanent on-demand license only to have the owner of the content yank it. Thankfully this happens very rarely.
    chasmScot1watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 65
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    chasm said:
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Not quite the same.  I have stacks of DVD's and Blu-Ray's that have been on my shelves for 10 years.  They aren't going anywhere and will always be available to play.
    A movie purchased at Apple that the studio has decided it did not want to sell through Apple anymore would be gone the next time I wanted to play it.  POOF!  Sure, download it.  Right.  No one does that except maybe to an iPad or iPhone then what good is it?  Get a new phone or iPad and the download is gone.
    “Nobody does that” ... except the people who can read and think. Unless you are using no backup system whatsoever, your digital purchases are backed up on at least an external hard drive, so you have in fact downloaded those e-books, movies, music, etc, and Apple’s license with you explicitly says they will not magically reach into that backup and remove the file. If you can’t be bothered to back up your purchases, dude, that’s on you ... not these sellers.
    Apple don't even offer a method to back up iTunes purchases made from an Apple TV or an iOS device.  The implication is that they'll always be available.
    Scot1mpw_amherst
  • Reply 10 of 65
    rchg said:
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Except that, say, the music label does not enter your home and take the CD away just because the artist changed the label/publisher.

    True, but when your CD fails, either from wear and tear (scratches) or just the way the materials age you would still be SOL.

    My initial comment was meant to be more on the question of ownership vs. licensing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 65
    Seems to me well first of all that this is complete crap and that this is a giant gray area. Like downloading emulated games if I have a physical copy I can download an emulated game all I want because I have bought and paid for that game. Seems to me like this is the same idea if I pay for something on a digital streaming site should be able to download the content freely as long as I have proof that I have purchased that content in the first place. I don't think the law has been written to actually provide the correct answer for this yet like I said a gray area.
  • Reply 12 of 65
    stukestuke Posts: 120member
    Welcome to the "subscription era" for online, digital content.  Grab a copy of what you purchased and make the necessary archive for your "unlimited time period use"  The $3.99 or $9.99 DVD or Blueray you bought at Best Buy won't be revoked from you by a Geek Squad gent showing up at your house and demanding you return it!
  • Reply 13 of 65
    Also that's why people should not be buying either of the new consoles that are discless. You can't resell it because they don't allow you any way to do that once you're done with the game you pay the exact same amount of money for something that you could get physically and you can do what you want with that physical copy. Back it up for yourself sell it when you're done whatever. When I first saw the PS5 and the Xbox was going to have all digital versions I knew this was the road that they were trying to get people to take they want to try and save all the money that takes them to produce actual physical stuff and never let us recoup anything. I know when I'm done with any kind of disc game movie whatever I want the right to be able to resell it to put the money towards another purchase, they're trying to stop this.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 65
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,611member
    crowley said:

    Apple don't even offer a method to back up iTunes purchases made from an Apple TV or an iOS device.  The implication is that they'll always be available.
    This is flatly wrong. Any purchase made on an Apple TV or iOS device can be backed up on other devices, particularly desktop or notebook computers.
    FileMakerFellerpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 65
    Speaking as someone who just threw away a box of VHS tapes that was taking up space in the basement, the future isn't all that different from the past.  I'm not particularly worried whether my DVDs, Blu-rays, or Apple movie downloads will still be available to me a decade or two from now. I haven't touched any of my CDs in many years, and I have more access to more music than ever before.
    jdb8167pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 65
    BTW, here are the relevant parts of Apple's TOS for video purchases:

    https://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/us/terms.html

    "- It is your responsibility not to lose, destroy, or damage Content once downloaded. We encourage you to back up your Content regularly."

    "
    You may be limited in the amount of Content you may download, and some downloaded Content may expire after a given amount of time after downloaded or first played. Certain Content may not be available for download at all."

    "You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (“Redownload”) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (“Associated Devices”). ... Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services."

    Seems crystal clear that Apple would make exactly the same argument that Amazon is reported to have made, and the terms of use easily back them up.  As everyone in this thread has pointed out, "buying" content online isn't exactly the same as buying a CD, DVD, etc.  (It's also not like buying a house or a puppy or a ticket to a concert.)
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 65
    I look at it like being in a cafe. Some will have you pay for the first coffee, which you consume, and give you free refills for a set time period thereafter. One thing I thought Amazon did do (or used to), was if you buy a DVD or Blueray through them they would provide you access to the digital version for free. With that in mind, I decided to never pay for digital movies (renting is my limit). 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 65
    mknelson said:
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.
    Let users download it to THEIR devices, problem solved. All companies pull this BS and its time to stop. You ask me to pay 25 for a item i dont immediatly think, how long will i have access? Id expect to pay MUCH less in thst case. For 25 i can buy hard copy and own forever but digital is same price and it may be gone tomorrow? No thats not ok.
    There isn't anything unusual here - that's the same licensing terms as on CDs, DVDs, Computer Games, pretty much every digital media…

    *still handy to remind people - there will be newbs here.

    y
  • Reply 19 of 65
    Sounds ridiculous. Will the gas station come take their gas back? I'm half way into a ham and the butcher wants it back? I'm on the toilet and my paper is gone? What next
  • Reply 20 of 65
    Joer293Joer293 Posts: 29unconfirmed, member
    As someone who has lost access to many online and physical disc purchases, the law needs to be updated to protect consumers.  Either a refund needs to be issued, a downloadable or physical media must be compulsory or a license transfer that can be brought to another service. OR, make it absolutely clear, that the payment is not a “purchase” it’s a “rental” for an undefined time period. That way anyone can make the informed decision.  

    And for all of those people who claim Best Buy can’t come to your house and take your ability to watch a DVD away. Well, that’s exactly what Circuit City did with their divx DVD’s. (Circuit City was Best Buy 20 years ago for those who are to young to recall). I had a whole stack of DVD’s I paid for, no longer able to play because circuit city decided that’s what they wanted to do. 
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