If you think that you own materials you purchase digitally, such as music, movies, or books from Apple's iTunes store, you might want to think again -- or at least pay closer attention to the user agreement. It turns out digital ownership isn't so cut and dry as the internet is now learning.
A Canadian Twitter user named Anders G da Silva recently posted a screenshot of the response he received from Apple when he discovered that three movies he purchased from iTunes had disappeared from his library. As you can see in the Tweets below, the content was removed from the iTunes store due to no longer being available and, thus, was removed.
Me: Hey Apple, three movies I bought disappeared from my iTunes library.— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 10, 2018
Apple: Oh yes, those are not available anymore. Thank you for buying them. Here are two movie rentals on us!
Me: Wait... WHAT?? @tim_cook when did this become acceptable? pic.twitter.com/dHJ0wMSQH9
Now, you are probably saying to yourself something along the lines of "but he purchased the movies, they can't just take them back without giving him a refund, right?" As it turns out, wrong. It turns out that, technically, any time you purchase digital media -- movies, books, or anything else -- you don't actually own it. It remains in the cloud and that means that when cloud can no longer offer it, it disappears, making the "purchase" more of an indefinite rental, something that Apple sort of explains to da Silva in a second message which he also shared.
"Please be informed that the iTunes/App Store is a store front that gives content provider a platform or a place to sell their items," the message read in part. "We can only offer what has been made available to us via the studios or distributor. Since the content provider has removed these movies from the Canadian Store, I am unable to provide you the copy of the movies."
Apple went on to note that they couldn't refund da Silva for the purchases but offered two movie rentals of his choice as compensation.
And the idea that digital content can simply be made unavailable isn't exclusive to Apple. Even Amazon notes in their fine print that the content purchased for Kindle is only licensed, not sold and the online giant has the right to remove content. In 2009 they did just this with George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm", though in those cases they removed the content after it was discovered that the seller offering them did not have rights to the books.
Da Silva's experience has gone viral just as all eyes were on Apple for its special event today revealing the new line of iPhones, Watches, and more and while this isn't likely to curb consumer appetite for Apple's new offerings, it does serve as a solid reminder that in an ever more digital age the only things you truly own are those you buy in hard-copy form.
Have you had items go missing from your iTunes after being removed from Apple? What do you think about the somewhat complicated world of digital ownership? Let us know in the comments below!