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Apple can delete purchased movies from your library without telling you (theoutline.com)
515 points by Y-bar on Sept 12, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 344 comments

It's frustrating that the word 'purchase' is used for this kind of transaction. Like 'unlimited', it's use is fundamentally dishonest and vendors get away with it because everyone knows they lie.

If I buy a paperback book or a drm free ebook, that's a purchase.

If I pay for a drm movie or kindle book, that's a long-term rental.

If I buy a game from Steam then contractually that is a rental, but it behaves like a purchase. I can install it anywhere I like, I can back it up to a physical disk, and most importantly I can redownload it in perpetuity; even if the same item is no longer for sale on Steam.

The only risk in comparison to a physical copy is that Valve fundamentally changes or goes bankrupt. Both seem unlikely. This makes any purchase on Steam basically as safe as a physical purchase, resulting in Steam basically replacing physical game purchases on the PC.

Or they delete your account.

I'm not sure about Steam, but there are plenty of horror stories on the internet about "bought X on Y platform and then Y revoked account". The majority of users may never experience this, but the fact is that when you use a service like this you're at the mercy of the service provider, even for basic things like maintaining access to your account.

What I'd like to see is some sort of movement towards "if it looks like a purchase, then it is a purchase". That is, if I pay a one-time up-front free for access to something (even with DRM), we should pass legislation to make it behave like a purchase and limit the shenanigans that providers can pull. (Granted this is a very ill-formed idea and there are lots of details to work out in order to implement it.)

You are also limited in recourse if Valve screws you over. If a retailer seriously screws me over and I'm not able to resolve the issue with them I can always resort to doing a chargeback. If I try to do a chargeback on Valve they will immediately close my account and I'll lose access to thousands of dollars worth of games that I "bought."

Is there a limitation on how far back in time you can chargeback? I feel like if I was wronged by Valve and needed to chargeback to make things right, if they closed my accuont, I'd chargeback every purchase (or as many possible) that I made through them.

For fraud, not usually, but you would have to prove fraud.

For any other reasons most banks/credit card companies put limits between 30 days and a year I believe.

> I'm not sure about Steam, but there are plenty of horror stories on the internet about "bought X on Y platform and then Y revoked account".

The worst part about this is that it often happens when consumers exercise their legitimate rights to e.g. chargebacks. And yes, Steam does it too: if you chargeback a Steam purchase, even a fraudulent one where the CC company sides with you after the investigation, usually this will result in your account getting locked and held hostage until you undo the chargeback and eat the cost.

I dont know how easy is it to transfer games to another account - but if possible you could do that then initiate the chargeback

You can't transfer games between accounts on Steam

The customer is exercising their legitimate right to chargeback, and Valve is exercising their legitimate right to not do business with the customer after that.

The problem is not that Valve is exercising the right not to do business with them, but that they're taking away everything they ever bought from them. It's akin to me wronging Amazon and they come to my house and pick up everything they ever shipped me, and take it all back.

That's when it's time to sue.

The Steam user agreement includes a binding arbitration clause preventing you from suing: https://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/#11. There is no escape.

Actually there is: be a EU resident. It's even explicitely stated there.

Have these actually been tested in court? I believe if someone actually decided to sue it would go about as poorly as non-compete clauses in employment contracts.

Yes, SCOTUS has repeatedly upheld binding arbitration clauses as valid, and that they even override state law and apply in cases of naked fraud by the company:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT%26T_Mobility_LLC_v._Concepc... (binding arbitration overrides state law)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/business/supreme-court-up... (binding arbitration overrides workers' rights)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/supreme-court-backs-... (binding aribtration applies even in cases of fraud and deceptive advertising)

In a sense this is just codifying what has always been tacitly true - the court system isn't really intended to protect the common man against the economic, political and social elites, it's primary purpose is as a dispute resolution mechanism among those elites.

They teach arbitration and related matters in many law school curriculums now, another sad sign of the continued slide into privatised legal systems.

Unfortunately they have been successfully tested often in many legal systems.

If you’re testing an arbitration clause outside of arbitration then it’s already clear that the arbitration clause wasn’t binding.

When do I have a right to issue a chargeback against Valve? I enter a purchase contract that says that I pay them and they provide me access to a game (or some other item). If I believe they didn't uphold their part and I can't resolve it with customer service I can sue them. Nothing gives me the right to just break my part of the contract and take my money back.

> If I believe they didn't uphold their part and I can't resolve it with customer service I can sue them.

Actually no you can't (at least if you're in the US), because the Steam user agreement mandates binding arbitration: https://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/#11, where, for all practical purposes, the consumer always loses.

> Nothing gives me the right to just break my part of the contract and take my money back.

The whole point of chargebacks is that they're supposed to give you that right, if the CC company decides that the vendor wronged you. Valve's behavior here is an unethical and unilateral end-run around this process.

How is it an "end-run"? Your CC chargeback agreement isn't sacrosanct or a law. It's just another private contract, on par with your contract with Steam.

The real problem is that a Steam "purchase" are fundamentally an undefined-term rental. When you "buy" a gsame, you are buying nothing, and then Steam might let you access a game if they wants you to.

Your agreement with the CC provider isn't binging for Valve, but Valve's aggreement with the CC provider is (which they need to even accept cards in the first place).

Admittedly, I don't know that much about the contracts between CC providers and merchants, but in the big picture of things, CC providers are the giants and Valve is the little guy, so I'm pretty sure Valve doesn't have a lot of leverage in those negotiations. Otherwise, presumably the CC provider would be unable to initiate the chargeback in the first place. The fact that the chargeback itself is successful (Valve's retaliation notwithstanding) is evidence that the contract between CC provider and Valve allows chargebacks.

In this particular case, what this probably means is that CC providers need to include a "no retaliation" clause in their contracts for customers who issue legitimate chargebacks. That's assuming CC providers care, and maybe they don't, but point is they have the power to fix this and if it becomes a problem for their customers presumably they will.

But I don't think any of this solves the broader issue though. In general I don't think you can depend on having a powerful authority like a CC provider side with you like this.

Welcome to the brave new world of Libertarian Utopia, where all your have is an endless rage over contracts and stipulations... /s

Libertarian Utopia dating[1] has too much paperwork, and the nightclub attorney's fees are gradually changing my cocktails into cheap watered down beer. Giving up on interacting with real humans and ordering a Cherry 2000[2] would be a lot easier - and a lot cheaper!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urS8GmwmeWQ

[2] https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/8qwvz5/how-cherry...

Will check that out, looks funny enough to dedicate some time to it

I question how many of those horror stories are legitimate. Many users who have made these claims have later been revealed to have been violating the platforms rules in an egregious manner (i.e. cheating).

I don't think I care; cheating in a game doesn't seem like sufficient cause to lose it to me. Ban from multiplayer, sure, but lose access to the game or even your whole library? Seems excessive.

> Ban from multiplayer, sure

That kind of what they are doing. You can still play pretty much anything that doesn't run on VAC-secured servers. There are consequences on the steam community as well, though. The most significant are probably your profile being branded and restrictions on item trade/using the market.

The people who cheat in one online game tend to do it in every one they play.

Back in the day, you could enter special codes to cheat, or execute certain button combinations on the controller. There were even various devices that allowed you to cheat. Imagine if doing any of those things made your entire cartridge collection disappear..

Very different scenarios. If you disliked the person cheating on a console you could smack them upside the head and stop being friends with them. The ramifications for cheating in games designed specifically for multiplayer with many strangers are entirely different.

It's kind of like saying "imagine being arrested for being naked in public omg I do that all the time ... at home". It's different degrees of freedom.

The solution is to just register a new account for every purchase. Better privacy, better protection againsts account freezes/hacks and better resellability. Using social features is a bit of pain, but for me that's not really a feature in the first place. I don't like Steam to become a social platform.

This is the risk with any online service and you evaluate the customer service of the company as part of the evaluation process of doing business with them. Valve enjoys a pretty good reputation and so most people accept the trade-off.

Steam desperately needs competition. It would be interesting to see how much more the market would pay to actually buy games again rather than rent them.

For the AAA games that are actually available there, you can compare sales figures between GoG and Steam. It's not great for GoG I imagine, although I do appreciate that service vastly more than I do Steam.

I agree, but their network effect (among consumers and among game producers, who rely on Steam's wide distribution channels, anticheat/antipiracy tech, and analytics) is so huge that a competitor would have a very hard time.

As an aside, some games on Steam are DRM free and/or can be run without steam. Stardew Valley and Kerbal Space Program spring to mind.

There is also GOG, which sells DRM-free games. I just keep backups of my games on my NAS.

How often do you replace the NAS?

> This makes any purchase on Steam basically as safe as a physical purchase, resulting in Steam basically replacing physical game purchases on the PC.

Not entirely, since there's still some dependency on their client to put the game in 'offline mode', which requires phoning home to Valve.

A better example would be gog.com, which gives you the game binary/installer to download and no requirements for phoning home or any other shenanigans for being able to install/play it.

It's my understanding that the DRM and phoning home is completely optional and up to the developer. Steam is happy to deliver your games DRM-free and without any dependency on their client if the developer/publsiher chooses to do so.

They don't really advertise it, but there's no requirement to use DRM on Steam: http://steam.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_DRM-free_games

I found out the hard way that you can't play a single Steam game if you haven't connected it to the internet in 30 days.

Nothing clarifies the difference between purchase and rental when you try booting Steam up on a laptop for a 12 hour bus ride across Mexico and you can't play a single game.

You just have this "meh, hasn't affected me" mindset.

Wouldn't adjusting the system's clock circumvent this?

I do agree with your point that this is a bad thing in the first place.

That's the first thing I tried but it didn't work. Maybe it would've worked before I booted Steam in the first place, but you'd think Steam would've coded around that obvious circumvention.

I might be wrong, but don't modern TPMs have their own internal clocks to prevent exactly this?

> The only risk in comparison to a physical copy is that Valve fundamentally changes or goes bankrupt

Or that somebody phishes your login data or that your account is banned for some reason or that the drm servers for a game you bought are now offline (you still have the installer, but can't use it anymore)... . I also like steam, but it is still very much "all eggs in one basket" and while some of the games on there are drm-free many aren't. gog.com is better in that regard.

Yes, and those rentals-that-feel-like-purchases seem to be increasingly how new products and services are distributed whenever the providers can get away with it. You don't just see them with games, but also with movies (as described), music, e-books and, more recently, software suites, IoT devices and cars(!).

Which makes sense: For the involved businesses there are enormous upsides to this kind of deal: Instead of giving your product out of hand, you enter a long-term relationship with the consumer, you get the money and remain in full control over the product, you can define in unprecedented detail how your customers are permitted to use the product, you can use that control as leverage in contracts with other businesses, etc, etc.

Consumers usually don't mind because, indeed, it feels like you own the product. Until stuff like the OP happens and they realize it was a lie.

A concern I've heard brought up is if games are no longer supported on a new version of Windows, but steam and steamworks DRM is no longer able to run on an old version of Windows that the game is compatible with.

Sometimes games like this are removed from the Steam store, like World in Conflict, and can be made to work with some tweaking. But for a decent number of people that can be a problem, and there's no guarantee that will always be possible.

To be fair this is dependent on the specific DRM type, if the game receives any kind of fan/official updates to solve the issue, and there's not exactly an easy way out for Valve. Plus games that have to phone in to a central server to work are going to be more of an issue anyway so by comparison Steamworks DRM is doing pretty well.

>back it up to a physical disk

Really? How? It still needs the steam client to run, yea?

Or you file a chargeback, or someone playing on your account uses an aimbot, or anything else that attracts their unilateral ire.

I don't know anything about Valve. But if I cancel my Amazon account, I doubt that I would be able to keep all the books I bought.

It's not a long term rental, it's an limited rental, and the rental period is determined by the "landlord", solely at their discretion. We've all become digital serfs, digiserf, if you will.

Not all of us, some of us don't buy digital goods with DRM embedded.

Most of the friends I talk to that buy drm stuff buy it thinking it will be around forever. They just don't conceive of a world without iTunes or Amazon.

Just as a side note, neither iTunes nor Amazon have DRM on purchased music. That battle was won my consumers.

The battle for DRM-free video, however, is far from won. I’m not aware of any source for legal DRM-free video purchases (other than niches like stock video clips).

The battle on DRM-free ebooks is ongoing, probably easier to win than video.

I only buy DRM free books on Kindle.

>They just don't conceive of a world without iTunes or Amazon.

Many of them trade this for convenience and assume there will be an off-boarding process.

If you think Amazon will refund you 3000 dollars worth of digital goods in 50 years if they go bankrupt, you're dreaming. If you're very lucky, whoever bought them out might let you keep your stuff, or more likely, let you buy it again.

In 50 years their code will be cracked or the root keys leaked (especially during a bankruptcy meltdown). Of course that’s not something to count on, but history is a proven record that opsec failures will produce the opportunities for “liberation”

No need to wait 50 years if you wish to break the law. Right now you can steal all the content you like. Don't forget removing DRM in the US is illegal, and laws will undoubtedly only get more draconian.

And some of us buy it and then decrypt it.

Not all of us have become serfs. I haven't bought a Foo Fighters album since "In Your Honour" had DRM that made copying it to my mini disc player difficult. I've enjoyed their albums since though.

I fully believe artists deserve their share of the wealth created from their work. Unfortunately many artists' work impossible to financially support without also supporting DRM.

In all fairness, I don't know if the Foo Fighters still use DRM. It was irritating enough at the time that it became a lifelong grudge for me (same thing with Civ and any Tell Tale Games title).

"Purchase" doesn't really mean anything, because being property isn't a quality of an object that can be analyzed. What being property means is dictated by anyone with the means to enforce their preferred meaning.

The definition of owning a book doesn't include the right to read it out loud, for example. I may own a small piece of land in the city, but I'm told that I must build a single-family home or grassy field on it rather than a parking lot, skyscraper, or open sewer.

The problem is that property rights are defined by people with the most property in a way that expands their control over that property.

Apart from the other problems in your comment, `purchase` !== `own`.

I pay for Netflix but I "record" whatever content that I really like because I know that there is a good chance that it will become unavailable in the future: https://reelgood.com/blog/netflixs-us-catalog-has-shrunk-by-...

Interesting. I don't think many have the expectation that they have the right to watch a Netflix movie they streamed in perpetuity, as they do with Kindle books or iTunes purchases.

People don't have this expectation because Netflix is already pulling out content all the time.

A few years ago you could get pretty much any DVD from Netflix mail service, you could also walk in a video rental store and find all the classic, as well as all the blockbusters from the past 10 years.

It's really sad that a technological advance lead to such a regression.

I don't know if it's the exception, but in Santa Clara County, the public libraries have a somewhat better selection of DVD's than Netflix. I just cross referenced my list recently (about 20) and the local library had five older that were not available (as out of print most likely) on Netflix and Netflix had two (older foreign releases) that were not in the library. I'm probably cancelling my Netflix DVD subscription soon.

It would have been crazy 20 years ago to subscribe to HBO and record a movie to your VCR, that you could watch later, or at a friend's house.

But it would not have been crazy, 25 years ago, to record a song playing on the radio to a tape recorder, so you can replay it back later.

Why not just pirate them and get them in better quality? You know, I know, the copyright holders know and Netflix knows that is not the intention of a $10-a-month streaming service. So why not get the BD rips with less compression instead?

To tell you the thruth, I pay for Netflix but download them from alternate sources...

For software it has never worked that well in the first place. I have a couple of game purchases (on disc, prior to the Steam era) that simply don't work anymore. You have to rely on the publisher to support newer OS versions, drivers etc.

For the best games, I usually rebuy them anyway as digital downloads on gog.com or similar.

I disagree. Vendors "get away with it" because "purchase" is, in practice, a more accurate description of the transaction than "rental." Everyone knows what a movie rental is--it is where you have access to a movie for some fixed, usually short (a few days) period of time. A "purchase" on iTunes does not fit into the mold of what people think of as a rental. The fact that there are some conditions attached doesn't change that result.

Note that this also comports with what "purchase" means as a legal matter. You can "purchase" land and get an interest short of a fee simple absolute. E.g. your interest might be preempted by the occurrence of some event. Such an interest is still an ownership interest, as opposed to a leasehold (rental) interest.

I disagree with your disagreement. In the common layman's mind, if you "purchase" something, then the company should not be able to take it back from you.

Especially since it's not like Apple is guaranteeing that you get to keep the product for a minimum amount of time. They could just as well delete your purchase a minute after you bought it.

There isn't a single human on planet earth who thinks of such a transaction that gets withdrawn after one minute as a regular legitimate "purchase" of a product. Even "rental" doesn't quite cut it, it's more in the land of "fraud".

I'm not sure we can equate deleting a purchased digital asset with taking back a physical item. I'd imagine deleting something would be more akin to selling a product that is designed to break after a certain amount of time.

There's a pretty wide variance of what people consider acceptable from purchased things, e.g. People generally accept the idea that a mattress will eventually need to get changed even if it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Actually, intentionally designing a product to break after a certain time is planned obsolescence and is not accepted at all.

Note that this is not about Apple taking content back. It's about Apple not allowing content to be re-downloaded after it has been deleted locally, if it has been pulled from the iTunes Store in the meantime. We're an all-iTunes household, as are my parents and in-laws, and the fact that iTunes "purchases" are subject to this condition has never elicited a comment from anyone I know.

Well, there's one thing that could show the difference. If it's a true "purchase" then the first-sale doctrine, [1], should hold, which limits the rights of the copyright owner.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine

A "sale" is a necessary pre-condition to application of the first-sale doctrine, but that does not imply that exhaustion of copyright is a necessary pre-condition to the existence of a "sale." The Copyright Office's official position is that first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital sales, not because they are not "sales," but because they necessarily involve creating a copy of the digital item--unlike the sale of a physical item. The Copyright Office and USPTO has stated that digital sales do not meet key assumptions underlying the first-sale doctrine: there is no tangible good that can be owned by only one person at a time that is subject to wearing out.

"Lease" or "License" would be less deceptive terms. The FTC should prohibit "Purchase" and "Buy".

You purchase a revokable license, since it's a one-time payment, not subscription, and since it's not a product you are purchasing.

The whole value proposition is unlike anything else. Why not use a new word. The market freely adopts new words, like freemium, hire-purchase, in-app-purchase etc.

If you buy a paperback book you're purchasing the physical materials in the book (i.e. the paper and ink), and a license to the copy of the material in the book. You can't do whatever you want with the content - e.g. you can't copy it and sell it on.

It's only now that the materials and the content can be explictly and easily separated that we see this logic actually apply in more meaningful ways. This is going to apply to more and more things in the future (e.g. cars, phones, etc.) so we better get used to it, unfortunately.

you can't copy it and sell it on.

But you can share with others. You can even sell the book.

It is very convenient to have hundreds or even thousands of books in a tiny device, especially for someone who has very little space to keep physical books (and those who move a lot). While nothing can replace physical books, ebook readers are a fairly good compromise. Plus, it is possible to reduce the cost of books (and less dead trees). But we can't share, unless we share the ebook reader device itself :(

As with most things, humans will put commerce first, and I don't see this situation changing anytime soon. Amazon has won the ebook reader race and they are likely going to stay there for a while.

You're right about the resale part, but at least with the Kindle you can loan books for up to 14 days:


The important difference is that the only "license terms" for paperback copies are laws designed to protect publishers, whereas digital licenses can be as arbitrary as a publisher chooses to as long as they don't conflict with laws designed to protect consumers.

Or, as I said in a different comment, use new vocabulary.

if you buy a paperback book, the book can still be lost. if you buy a digital movie from iTunes, and you downloaded it local, you own it forever.

It's not clearly stated in the original tweets, but I'm glad this article covered it. The Movie was not "physically" deleted from their library.

They didn't have a downloaded copy of it, and the ability to re-download (or stream) a new copy from iTunes no longer exists.

This is an understandable frustration since the workflows for iCloud, Apple Music, etc are pushing the cloud downloadability to be a first class feature and you would expect your purchases to stay there. That's sadly not always the case.

But I think this is an important distinction

It's the same with Apple store apps - I've bought Rayman 2 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 on my iPod touch years ago, and while these games are in my purchase history, there is no way to download them - there is no download button. So I've paid money for something that I can't get anymore. However, if I still had that iPod I'm sure they would still work.

Most likely those apps don't run on current versions of the OS. There's no sense downloading an app to a device where it can't run.

Other than to use that device as a long-term backup, or to use it to transfer files onto another device that can play the files, or to run them in a legal emulator.

Hmm, shouldn't it more be:

There's no sense upgrading an OS without maintaining backwards compatibility?

iOS is only 10 years old...

Backwards compatibility isn't free.

In this case, the root cause is probably the CPUs changing from 32-bit to 64-bit. There are costs of having 2 versions of all of the system libraries - maintenance dev time, RAM usage, battery life, etc.

Yes, I've had to delete my most played IOS game, Wurdle. It doesn't run on IOS 11 and the developer has never updated it. It was a remarkably simple game, finding as many paths on a 5x5 grid of letters that formed words in two minutes.

It was the perfect way to pass the time while standing in line, and with practice some people (like my wife) could get almost supernaturally fast at finding words (I could never beat her). Sadly, there is nothing quite like it on the current App Store.

To be fair, it was an inexpensive game and I got a lot of use out of it.

You may still have it on your Linux machine under /use/games or similar paths (if you have Linux machine, actually). It's part of the classical Bsdgames collection and it's called 'boggle'. Man page here: https://www.mankier.com/6/boggle

I recently bumped into it by accident!

Edit due to bad auto correction:


(Sorry for the double comment, but I cannot edit my comments via the app I'm using on my mobile)

That sounds an awful lot like the classic game of Boggle.


I bet there is a business in porting remakes of old iTouch games.

Is this similar to Boggle?

Can you sync the iPod touch with a PC or Mac, then you would at least have a local copy of the actual app binary/executable. Then you may be able to persuade iTunes to sync it to another device.

Seems like the perfect (legal) use case for torrenting.

The DMCA (section 117) allows creation of archival copies from the original media that you legally own.

It does not allow you to obtain a copy from another entity, either by archiving theirs, downloading it from a torrent, or whatever other means. The copyright they had can't be transferred to your copy.

Even if the bits are completely identical between you backing up a copy yourself and you downloading it from the internet, only the former is legal.

Please don't claim something is legal when it is not.

Fuck that. Ill just pirate to begin with then, if I'm going to be a "criminal" either way.

And then Ill save my money for hardware and/or donations to the FSF.

Your DMCA (section 117) [1] specifies allowing the creation of copies if you "own" a copy. You own a copy (you have own the rights to a copy), and by torrenting, you are making a digital copy. I don't see any difference between, say, a transfer of bits from CD-ROM to your HDD, and back to another CD-ROM, vs transferring the bits over the internet from some copy on another computer. Nowhere does it say "original media". You seemed to have inserted that verbiage yourself, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

   (a)Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.—Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
   (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
   (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
The next section allows for selling/transferring that copy (if you, for example, burned Microsoft XP onto a CD-R) if you have authorization from the copyright holder (whatever that means). By torrenting, you are not engaging in the act of transferring the license, so it doesn't seem to apply here. Maybe the seeder is violating something, but I can't see the downloader (who already owns the license) running afoul of anything.

   (b)Lease, Sale, or Other Transfer of Additional Copy or Adaptation.—
Any exact copies prepared in accordance with the provisions of this section may be leased, sold, or otherwise transferred, along with the copy from which such copies were prepared, only as part of the lease, sale, or other transfer of all rights in the program. Adaptations so prepared may be transferred only with the authorization of the copyright owner.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/117

> The next section allows for selling/transferring that copy

Not quite, it says:

> only as part of the lease, sale, or other transfer of all rights in the program

Aka you can sell your copy, but only if you also sell your right to use it which means you must give them the original, or the original must not function any longer.

You cannot sell said copies unless you have either the permission of the copyright holder (aka you're the record label) or you're giving away all of your copies, and your ability to create more, and your ability to use the work in any way (which is effectively what means by 'transfer of all rights').

Since the torrent is not by an authorized reseller / copyright holder, they are in fact not transferring a license, which is what makes it illegal.

Furthermore, "owning a license" to the work does not give you permission to download additional copies. It only allows you to create archival copies from your existing copy you have the license to. Since you do not have the license to the source of the piece you're downloading, you cannot download it.

Again, just because the uploader has the same bits you do doesn't mean you have a license to their bits.

Yes but my point is that the seeder may be doing something illegal, but I'm just making a copy, by way of the torrent. I'm authorized to make copies.

To quote what I wrote above:

> Furthermore, "owning a license" to the work does not give you permission to download additional copies. It only allows you to create archival copies from your existing copy you have the license to. Since you do not have the license to the source of the piece you're downloading, you cannot download it.

You can only make a copy by way of the internet if the copy is of your exact physical thing. It's not, even if it's bit-for-bit identical, so you are not authorized to make a copy of that one.

The law there is admittedly vague about making the copy, but it does not say how the copy must be made. I also don’t understand what you mean by “...if the copy is of your exact physical thing. It’s not...”

If it’s bit for bit identical, and a copy is made over the internet, wouldn’t they have to explicitly forbid the act of copying over the internet?

You continue to not understand what I'm trying to convey.

They explicitly allow you to make a copy of the one you have a valid license to. You do not have a valid license to the copy over the internet.

You do have a valid license to the one you purchased.

If you purchase a game, put it in your cd drive at home, and then dd it over ssh to your laptop in a starbucks, that's fine. You made a copy over the internet of the disk you purchased and thus have a license to use.

If you do the exact same thing above with your friend's machine and their copy of the same game, you no longer are copying from a source you have a license to copy.

It is their copy, they can make an archive, but they can't share the archive with anyone else.

The important thing here is that this is about an item you have a license to. You do not have a license to the pattern of bits. You have a license to a single copy of the pattern of bits on a specific medium that you own by some means.

The law is not talking about a sequence of bits. It's talking about a license. That's why it doesn't need to forbid copying the things you're talking about, or talk about "exact physical thing"... It's talking about the license, which is even more specific than the exact physical thing in some ways.

Does that mean that once you make a copy from a source you have the right to copy from, then you cannot make another copy from that copied source? It doesn't seem like the wording of the law is saying that though...

  ...all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.
This part seems to imply that your rights to the copy are actually independent from the original copy or physical media. It implies that i can have as many archival copies as long as I have the rights, so I can't see why I can't download a copy as long as I don't cease to be rightful in doing so.

> The DMCA (section 117) allows creation of archival copies from the original media that you legally own. It does not allow you to obtain a copy from another entity, either by archiving theirs, downloading it from a torrent, or whatever other means. The copyright they had can't be transferred to your copy.

Sequences of bits are fungible. If you have a license to possess the work, you have a license to possess the work.

(disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)

There’s no such thing as a license to possess a work. Your license is to possess a copy of the work and you can back-up that copy. But you have no license to make a fresh copy of the work from elsewhere.

While the bits may be fungible, their origin is not - and that is what matters.

Yes but the DMCA section mentioned explicitly allows you to make copies for archive (or even for resale!), if you own the right to a copy already.

"legal media that you already own" is not mentioned anywhere in that DMCA section.

Classic post on the provenance of files being important for legal reasons: http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/entry/23

Is it possible to avoid local deletion if you need to reinstall the OS or move to a new computer? (I don't know how this works.)

The video files are DRM encrypted - I don’t know how long iTunes or macOS retains local decryption key caches (especially if it uses Apple’s TPM equivalent) but based on my experiences with the iOS App Store provided you retain the actual video file then Apple will still grant you a decryption key. iOS App Store apps that have been removed from the store can still be installed on a new iPhone if you still have the IPA file. (Unfortunately newer versions of iTunes don’t let you backup and restore IPA files anymore and even “iPhone backups” don’t include apps themselves anymore, only your app’s user data.)

>Unfortunately newer versions of iTunes don’t let you backup and restore IPA files anymore and even “iPhone backups” don’t include apps themselves anymore, only your app’s user data.

This was a real bummer, and feels mostly borne (like many modern big tech company moves recently) not so much out of any sort of monetization strategy or whatever as a basic but irritating bubble: a bunch of tech workers who simply can't comprehend being on a "broadband" connection of the 5/1 ADSL sort (or worse) that much of the world, including America, is still stuck on. It's not a security or DRM issue, the old backup system still signed/encrypted everything and still required calls into the mothership and the like. It's mainly sucked just because it makes it enormously slower to restore a phone for people with poor connections. I wish Apple had seen a chance to differentiate themselves there with more local support (presumably which could be leverage into hardware product sales) since unlike Google they are not dependent on ad/cloud revenue, but perhaps it was inevitable as they lost track of all SoHo efforts with the Mac. As a startup org structure it's just hard for Apple to multi-task as well for better and for worse.

I see, thanks!

Yes, you can save the files to a separate hard drive. Also, they would be backed up via Time Machine, if you use it.


Your comment is correct and really should be at the top. The real issue is that many people don't know this can happen and should be warned.

It does seem obvious that short of having your own copy of something purchased (in this case, a movie), this will happen. Purchasing the right to see a movie, listen to a song, on a service, will never be the same as holding a physical copy. I wonder if it's even legal for Apple to maintain a copy of the movie in iTunes for customers who've already purchased it once they have lost the right to host it. Clearly, most of us don't appreciate the difference between what it meant to purchase something, and what it means today in the digital, subscription world.

So, if you really want to own a movie or a song, buy a physical incarnation of it, or make a digital copy of it.

It probably shouldn't be called a purchase then.

Consumers understand the distinction between buying a car and leasing a car. Nobody says in common conversation, "I bought Spotify," they say, "I subscribed to Spotify."

It's no accident that companies like Apple lean on terminology like "purchase" instead of "license." Apple knows that the iTunes buy button would be less attractive if it used language that was more transparent. So instead they are capitalizing on that confusion - they want the customer to feel like this is a permanent transaction. They want a movie license to feel the same as the experience of buying a DVD.

If most consumers don't understand the difference, then businesses should use less confusing language within marketing and store interfaces. If they're OK with consumer confusion or if that consumer confusion is actually the point, then they should also be OK with the blowback they get when customers eventually feel misled or betrayed. They have to take the bad with the good.

I think you're right, "license" could sound off-putting. Maybe calling the movie/music things you buy "tickets" or "passes" might make it more understandable? We still use the word "purchase" when we go to a movie theater to watch a movie -- but we purchase tickets, not the movie itself. Or at an amusement park, you buy a day pass or week pass or whatever. Everyone understands these concepts of temporarily getting access to something, it's just different terminology.

>I think you're right, "license" could sound off-putting.

It should be off-putting. If they want something else they should let people actually purchase drm-free copies.

> I think you're right, "license" could sound off-putting.

Reality often sounds off-putting.

That's why we've developed the ability to lie.

But also the ability to detect lying. "Lie-sense", if you will.


Buy sounds like the most attractive verb it seems unlikely that they will stop using it unless its legally not permissible.

I think that a company ought to have to pay for storage of keys required to unlock encumbered media and upon failure to provide said media consumers ought to be able to get the key required to unlock said media emailed to them.

It is a purchase -- you have perpetual rights to the content. You don't have perpetual rights to the cloud download. This concept is more noxious with apps, where it's nearly impossible to transfer defunct apps across iOS devices.

The concept is not new. If I buy perpetual rights to software on DVD, I don't have an unlimited period of time to obtain media. If my grandchildren are running a computer with Windows NT4 that I purchased in 1999 in 2100, my estate owns the right to use the software, but Microsoft or its successor has no obligation to provide me with media.

If you care, buy physical media with download codes.

> It is a purchase -- you have perpetual rights to the content. You don't have perpetual rights to the cloud download.

In this context, they're "supposed" to be one in the same. What good is a right to view content if you can't actually get it?

No, it’s not. Folks may assume that because they don’t read the terms of sale.

Apple and others do that to simplify user experience, but rights holders ultimately dictate the terms. No movie studio will ever allow perpetual distribution.

In the case of Apple, they offer a simple solution: download it to your computer.

> Folks may assume that because they don’t read the terms of sale.

And to who's benefit is it that the terms of sale aren't transparent in the purchase process itself? If consumers broadly don't understand what they're buying, then it needs to be communicated better to them.

Companies are OK with consumers misunderstanding the terms of the license when it comes to migrating people off of physical mediums. Then suddenly it becomes a problem when consumers start complaining about those terms.

But there's an easy solution to stop consumers from complaining about this. Content gets removed off of Spotify and Netflix every day, but broadly consumers understand why. They may not be happy about it, but I don't see thinkpieces claiming that the company has done something wrong. This is because Spotify and Netflix are transparent about what they are selling.

The same isn't true for Apple, because Apple hasn't done a good job explaining to customers what its business model is. And I would guess that part of the reason for that is because if Apple was transparent about what their licenses and DRM actually meant, people would be a lot more wary about buying into that business model. It would be a lot easier to see the competitive advantages that physical mediums and DRM/license free purchases held over digital storefronts.

Consumer confusion here is Apple's fault -- not the consumer's.

> No movie studio will ever allow perpetual distribution.

"Buy" on a cloud service like this should mean a license to download the content for the duration of its copyright. The movie studios obviously want to double dip but there's no reason to capitulate on such an unfair arrangement.

They assume that because of the misleading use of the term "Purchase".

> What good is a right to view content if you can't actually get it?

The same issue would present itself if I scratched a DVD in my library, right?

I think it's more of a case where the guy that sold you the dvds scratches them all while they are in your storage.

It's more of a case of the dvd seller offering a service where they will almost but not quite always replace scratched dvds with new ones free off charge and people becoming reliant on that.

To add details.

The DVD seller isn't making the copy, but requesting them from the original manufacturer. The DVD seller telling the purchaser that this service is contingent on the manufacturer providing back up copies free of charge. However, the manufacturer can at any time refuse, if they no longer make them, or no longer wish to support it.

Its probably not Apple's decision to limit the download, it most likely the original rights holder.

More like : You don't want to store the DVD yourself so you tell the seller to keep it and you come pick it up whenever you watch it.

Except that the DVDs would be in the seller’s storage.

If you care just don't pay for things you don't own. I rent access to entertainment with the knowledge that If I cancel my service tomorrow I wont be able to watch it.

I try to only BUY things I can back up for my own use later in an unencumbered format.

Actually, most people I know say “I have Spotify,” and there’s where the line blurs. They don’t think about what exactly “having” Spotify means.

Flashbacks to attending secondary school in 1999: “you got the Internet at home then?” “Yes, I have the Internet.”

What about "Unlimited Purchases"?

> Purchasing the right to see a movie, listen to a song, on a service, will never be the same as holding a physical copy.

Yeah, that's a no-go, chief.

Even if it's somehow baked into the terms of service, I don't think it's reasonable for the average person to assume the content they are purchasing (not leasing, not renting, not subscribing to, but purchasing) might someday disappear, outside of the service shutting down forever.

As a technical person, I understand that may happen, but in this case, it's surprising. This is more evidence that we are not doing enough to police marketing and legalese.

Someone once told me that with bad contracts, two people can come away with different understandings as to what was greed upon. Good contracts can only be interpreted one way. The same should be true for almost every part of our economy - leases, sales contracts, mortgages, investments, employment agreements, terms of service, etc.

Personally, I believe we need to reign in the "unlimited" data claims, "adjustable" APRs, non-compete agreements, and privacy policies.

> Someone once told me that with bad contracts, two people can come away with different understandings as to what was greed upon.

An apropos typo ….

Buying a DVD gives you the right to view that content, but that "right" disappears if you scratch the DVD.

Unless you have a private copy, which is allowed in many countries. As long as you keep a backup, you effectively have this "right" for life.

And what if the publishers break into your home and are the ones to scratch the DVD? That reflects better what happened in the article.

You can keep a copy of your iTunes media, it's perfectly legal.

Apple is not the publisher, they are the distributor. They are not "coming into your home and scratching your DVD", an actually analogous analogy would be they stop supporting the DVD format with new disc players they release.

> Purchasing the right to see a movie, listen to a song, on a service, will never be the same as holding a physical copy.

I'm pretty sure you could design a SaaS offering in two parts: one that sells you a digital copy of a thing as a product (rather than a license), for delivery to a digital storage locker; and then, the other, a digital storage locker.

Oddly enough, Apple already has a digital storage locker, called iCloud Music Library. It's where your uploaded songs go when you use iTunes Match and the song doesn't actually match any entry in the Apple Music library.

If iCloud Music Library were properly designed (it's not), your purchased, matched, and uploaded songs would all be available permanently through iCloud Music Library in its capacity as a digital storage locker, whether or not they're still available through Apple Music. The licence-holders wouldn't be able to do anything about this: this isn't Apple broadcasting a song, this is Apple acting as the moral equivalent of bank, offering a safe-deposit box service, where you hold a box into which you've put a USB stick containing the song you bought from them.

Sadly, the synergy between Apple Music and iCloud Music Library is actually exactly the opposite of what anyone would want: when an artist's license agreement with Apple Music expires and their tracks are purged from the system, Apple will actually delete not just your purchased licenses from your iCloud Music Library; and not just the licenses of Apple Music tracks that fingerprint-matched local copies you had; but even your uploaded (!) copies of songs by a given artist that didn't match any Apple Music license, but just happened to have ID3 information corresponding to the artist whose rights were expiring. (In that case, the tracks still appear as entries in the iCloud Music Library list, but they're under a permanent "waiting" status, because their backing storage has been removed. There are many support threads about this issue, none with answers—well, that's what's going on.)

Do you have any idea why this "Digital Locker" features is not implanted worldwide?

The cost of Storage is dropping, Network Bandwidth is cheap for the likes of Apple which has connection to every major ISP worldwide. ( As well as their iPhone agreement with Mobile Carriers )

It was only few months ago I started hating the "streaming" model. When few of my artists's album suddenly disappeared from the listing of Apple Music. I started thinking may be buying them would be better in the first place. Now you are telling me even buying music could also means they would somehow disappeared?

Am I suppose to buy CD Now?

Amazon used to offer this in their Amazon Music offering, but they recently shut down the ability to store arbitrary files that you uploaded yourself. If you had any self-uploaded files in your library, they were purged.

It's difficult to understand this move from a customer service perspective. Does anyone know what's going on?

Amazon Drive used to offer unlimited file storage. They stopped because people from https://www.reddit.com/r/DataHoarder/ were uploading their 100TB video library.

Now there's an arbitrary-file storage limit, and while Amazon Drive still offers unlimited photo storage, this proviso exists in the features page:

> If you are a Prime member, in addition to the list above, you can also store unlimited photos at no additional charge. However, the Amazon Photos unlimited photo benefit only applies to files recognized as photos. If a photo is encrypted, and Amazon Drive is unable to identify it as a photo, the file will count toward your storage limit. Videos also count toward your storage limit.

This is because, to get around the imposed limits, the data hoarders attempted to use a storage client that would chunk their large arbitrary files (probably pirated videos and game ISOs) into many smaller files that appeared to be collections of photos. The "photos" created by the chunking client were just arbitrary data with a .jpg extension, so scanning for "is this file of a valid image container format" was enough to thwart them. But, even if the data hoarders tried harder and made a new version of the chunking client which encoded their files as e.g. valid PNGs, 1. that's have really high bandwidth overhead, and 2. it'd still be pretty simple on Amazon's part to use more advanced ML to detect whether a given valid image is actually "a photo", or is just compressed binary data. So the data hoarders stopped while they were ahead.

I would guess that Amazon Music restricted their offering because of the data hoarders as well—unlike with photos, it's impossible to say whether arbitrary binary data constitutes "music" as long as it's stored as a stream in a valid media container file-format. It would have been fairly easy to create a new version of the data hoarders' chunking client that stored its arbitrary files as valid .flac containers. So Amazon just applied a policy solution instead.

Do you know whether Google Play Music's upload feature works in the same way?

Google Play Music actually keeps your files, rather than doing any kind of finger printing, as far as I can tell.

I wonder if it's even legal for Apple to maintain a copy of the movie in iTunes for customers who've already purchased it once they have lost the right to host it.

Actually, I'd put this on Apple legal: the contracts should specify that customer purchases can continue be hosted, and served to those customers in perpetuity. It's possible that Apple didn't have the leverage or foresight to negotiate these terms, but the "fix" here is straightforward because it's an issue of contractual terms, not some notion of "legality".

I have purchased many movies on Google Play that are no longer available for purchase. They are still available for me to watch.

> It does seem obvious that short of having your own copy of something purchased (in this case, a movie), this will happen.

Even if you have your own copy, Apple will still delete your stuff. E.g. iTunes no longer makes an actual backup of the contents of your phone when it tells you it has done so, so when you get a new phone you need to redownload all of your apps from the cloud. Assuming they are still there, which often they are not.

I don't know why anyone is surprised by this. Apple has a long history of getting touchy-feely with our computers.

I can't count the number of times Apple has burned me. Going back over a decade, with the iTunes 4.01 "upgrade" that only removed the ability to stream my music collection over the internet.

And the countless shenanigans with the app store, like silently deleting old versions of apps. Several times I had regressions introduced and no way to go back. And that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

In particular, Apple completely ruined my iPad 4[1] I can no longer read it in bed because I can't change the light filter. My favorite apps no longer work. And I did NOT want it, but they did it to me anyway.

I really think that we should have a threat model for manufacturer updates. I now have to research exactly what an update does before I install it, because it could very well rob me of functionality that I enjoyed. And the theme of dishonesty by manufacturers is more than enough reason not to trust them.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11986500

Apparently you haven't been following the battle between Redbox and Disney - not even a physical copy can side-step strong DRM via access codes. From what I can see thus far Disney is winning the battle in court.

So, even if you buy a physical incarnation of a copy, you might not actually own the content on the medium. Thanks a lot, Mickey Mouse /s

Are you sure that is an accurate characterization?

From what I've read Redbox is buying Disney "combo packs" that contain a physical DVD or Blu-Ray disc and a printed code that can be used for streaming the movie.

Redbox has been splitting those, renting the disc from its kiosks, and selling the piece of paper containing the printed code.

As far as I can see, it is the codes that are at issue, not the renting of the physical discs.

> So, even if you buy a physical incarnation of a copy, you might not actually own the content on the medium.

Buy it and rip it. Nothing they can do about that.

They can if you're Redbox, which is what the parent was talking about. With DRM bullshit they can circumvent the Right of First Sale principle.

Breaking the law is unethical because the benefits apply only to you. Copyright and truth in advertising law as it is today is not protecting consumers. Rather than being content circumventing the law those of us that understand the problem should work to fix it.

Bypassing DRM is against the TOS, but is not illegal in general, especially for things like personal use.

I would also like to point out that laws only work when they are enforceable. And a great way of getting rid of a law is for all of society to just break it, and encourage others to break it.

When everyone breaks a law, it becomes harder and harder to enforce, and is an effective measure of eliminating it. If not dejure, then at least by defacto.

Ripping modern DRM protected media is far from trivial and selling our offering any kind of tools or devices that can defeat DRM is illegal.

> Buy it and rip it. Nothing they can do about that.

It's illegal (breaking the encryption), so they could theoretically pursue legal remedies.

Yeah, if they knew about it, which they won't unless you're distributing copies. I put laws ripping my own purchased discs for personal use (DMCA) in the "kiss my ass" category.

Yep. Nothing is immune from this principle. You buy a book on Amazon, they can take it away. You buy a movie on Apple, they can take it away. Now everybody gets to experience the thrill of a visit from the repo man!

Even Steam isnt immune. With some games they will maintain two copies for past and future customers reflecting a change in license but Rockstar removed a significant portion of the soundtrack to GTA4 for all customers a few months ago.

> Purchasing the right to see a movie, [...] will never be the same as holding a physical copy.

If I buy a game on Steam, I can download it in perpetuity. Even if the game is later taken off Steam, I can still download my copy. Technically the contract only gives me a revocable license, but in practise it behaves in every way like a purchase of a physical copy. It reliably does what people expect, and in return everyone uses Steam instead of physical media.

If the media industry doesn't allow this model, I am not sure how they expect digital purchases and streaming to replace physical media and piracy.

>or make a digital copy of it

And do so in a computer you control, not in one controlled by someone else. I'm not talking only about having physical possession of the hardware, but also controlling what instructions that hardware executes. i.e. run free software.

The Amazon 1984[0] case comes to mind, where not running free software meant losing your data.


> So, if you really want to own a movie or a song, buy a physical incarnation of it, or make a digital copy of it.

Highly recommended. I buy disc copies of all my movies and rip them directly to my NAS with no additional transcoding, then serve them up via Plex. All the advantages of digital distribution, none of the drawbacks (the biggest one being "oops, we don't have the rights to that movie anymore").

The time invested into learning how to setup a NAS, ripping discs, maintaining that infrastructure all seem like drawbacks.

Some of this stuff is pretty easy to do if you're willing to pay. MakeMKV is pretty cheap for just copying the disks, a a NAS can be bought off the shelf, and a cheap computer running Plex or Kodi can be bought off the shelf. The problem is really just that there's no good integrated solution.

Well like a lot of things the best option isn't always the cheapest and easiest. It's worth it depending on what you value.

Doing a lot of extra work just to gain access to entertainment content seems to be kind of missing the point of entertainment in the first place.

I know how to do all of that but I still do not consider it worth my time. I would rather have the convenience of iTunes without the corporate overreach.

> I know how to do all of that but I still do not consider it worth my time.


> I would rather have the convenience of iTunes without the corporate overreach.

Do you know how to do that? Why would it matter if that's what you'd rather have? You don't have it now.

Can't wait getting some classics removed from my movie library automatically when the algorithmic Zeitgeist decides they violate some new sensitivity. Funny this was predicted in detail 10 years ago (how to build such a system starting with secure boot loader) and we just go full steam ahead. "Masters" now have a perfect tool to rewrite history; all contradicting documents can disappear from devices at will. Seems like mindless hedonistic consumption bruising quiet virtuous parts of population without loud voice will be the only thing allowed; everything else would be polarizing and suppressed.

I'm honestly amazed at how well digital purchases have held up, and the fact that this is an expectation is evidence of the quality of service that's become standard. When I first started purchasing digital media, the expectation was always that you had to back it up yourself. I never expected to be able to download music I purchased on iTunes in 2003 15 years later for free!

Everyone was saying to buy physical media if you want to keep it around for a long time, but almost all the CDs I owned in 2003 are lost or destroyed forever, while music I purchased on iTunes or eMusic remains available to download or stream anywhere in Earth for free, and eMusic has changed ownership multiple times since then. Credit to Amazon for providing downloads of physical CDs purchased from them too. It's so much more than I expected.

>this was predicted in detail 10 years ago

Over 20, the story is from 1997.

What story? 1984 was written in 1948.

Right to read.

Which story? I mean, Orwell's 1984 comes to mind frankly, but that's from the mid 20th century, not 10 or 20 years ago.

And then there was the incident from the early days of the Kindle, when peoples copies of 1984 got disappeared when someone made a copyright claim on it.

Right to read.

Ah, I remember that one. It fits the time frame. Thanks for reminding me of it.


Suppression of unwanted voices is not new, the only thing changing is the medium, there has been and always will, oppressors and rebels. There are tools to remove DRM and ways to jailbreak your device.

You can download your existing collection when you have the opportunity, and then put the device on airplane mode.

I know that doesn't address the main point, but ... quibbles.

The same thing happens if you owe them any money, however small. Right now I owe Apple $0.99 because I’m waiting on a new card to come and one of my recent previous purchases failed.

Their response is to hold my entire library of “purchased” music and movies hostage until they get their $0.99. I can’t play or access anything.

Clearly, I own nothing in their eyes. This is the same as if Blockbuster would hold all your DVDs hostage you bought from them if you owed them any money. If you don’t own the unrestricted physical medium, you own nothing.

I guess there’s a reason Apple is dominant: aggression and brutality always win out in humanity. We are all just passive & submissive subordinates, Apple is our one true master and dark lord.

> "... aggression and brutality always win out in humanity. We are all just passive & submissive subordinates, Apple is our one true master and dark lord"

Have we reached peak melodrama on HN?

> I guess there’s a reason Apple is dominant: aggression and brutality always win out in humanity

How does that follow? Google, Facebook, Microsoft... are all equally heavy handed so I don't see how that makes Apple any more "dominant" than the other players in the field.

It's the same bullshit with AppStore purchases!

I was absolutely pissed when trying to re-install a rather expensive game (The Secret of Monkey Island) only to discover that I can't, because Disney yanked it from the AppStore after purchasing LucasArts. I paid for the damn thing, I used it then and I need it now. Talking to Apple is like talking to a f#cking wall. Absolutely pointless. Apparently I should've been making versioned backups of my iThing in order to preserve the binary. That was their actual reply. Ain't it something?

Caveat emptor, basically.

I view any digital distribution platform where your content is tied to the platform itself as renting rather than buying. Makes things much simpler.

That's why it was so disheartening to buy the x-com remake and find nothing but a steam activation code inside the box. I don't feel like I own that game because it's tied to an online account.

I know that you can just keep a local copy of it, but it's still tied to the platform and if you wanted to go to a different platform, you couldn't take it with you.

With iOS it's even worse, because you end up tied to a specific version of the platform.

For example: I bought the Monkey Island remake for iOS when it came out. It's no longer playable, because a 64-bit binary was never produced, and 32-bit apps don't work on iOS 11.

Similar things happened with computer operating systems, but holding on to an older version is so much easier to do on computers. I guess a 7 year usable life is decent for how much I paid for the game, but still, annoying.

Scrolling through the comments, the focus seems to be mostly on Apple, but this isn't about Apple. This is about the entertainment companies, copyright law, and the fact that these industries are so large and protected by regulatory capture that they can dictate to companies the size of APPLE how they should enforce their will on customers. The same caveats apply to Steam or Comcast or anyone else who is "selling" you something they can yank back away from you

(And, for the purposes of my comment, I make no distinction between removing the ability to re-download, or reach into your hard drive and delete.)

Isn't it rathwr unlikely they dictated anything to Apple, as Apple isn't, and wasn't exactly at the brink of bankruptcy. They could have chosen a different path.

It is probably more likely, looking at the history of a couple of different online movie/music services, that Apple simply decided to play ball with the media companies to get better deals, and earn more money. Simultaneosly getting a foot in the door to stop the "rebel" companies entering the scene, crashing the media industries party, and Apples too.

While Apple with their positioning obviously has a lot to win on being the #1 choice of the media giants, I believe they went there quite willingly.

The article frustratingly doesn't make clear what happens if you had downloaded the movie.

If you download the movie, and it's removed from Apple's library, and you try to play it, are you able? Or does it say, "Sorry, you are not authorized"?

This would make a big difference for me because I've downloaded every Apple purchase for years onto my Drobo. If Apple prevents playback in these cases, then I may as well delete them all and save terabytes of disk space.

How much of this is Apple's fault and how much of it is the RIAA and MPAA's fault for enforcing this region based DRM structure where every possible use of media is split up and locked from each other. Oh, I was only able to purchase the rights to allow my users to download this movie in the USA until 01/20, English Canada until 6/19, Quebec until 1/19, UK until 1/22.

Then, if the movie is still popular, the renewal rights for this movie will be bundled with 100s of other movies my users hate, all with different time periods and locations. If it isn't popular, it gets thrown into a bundle that will be forced upon content providers so net out a few extra $ on movies no one wants to see.

This is why I strip the DRM and backup anything I purchase locally, and don't use services that don't have any method to acquire a raw copy (like the google play store). It's a strong selling point if it's provided by the vendor (e.g. GOG for video games), but sadly hollywood is an industry that hates the concept.

>and don't use services that don't have any method to acquire a raw copy (like the google play store)

are you sure you're not confusing that with the app store? it's trivial to get the .apk from a bought app after it's on your phone, but it's not trivial to strip the playfair DRM off an .ipa.

I'm pretty sure the reference is to video content from the Google Play Store, not apps or (even easier to get raw content) audio content from the same store.

Yes, I was talking about the movies on the play store.

> it's trivial to get the .apk from a bought app after it's on your phone

I'd argue that while it might be easy today, that's just an implementation detail. The play store does not advertise anywhere that you can backup APKs for installation later in case an app is pulled from the store. Tomorrow Google could invent a new kind of delivery mechanism that makes this stop working.

Unfortunately, that option is not available to the majority of consumers. Distributing a consumer-friendly application that would allow users to strip DRM and backup their purchased content is illegal.

in the United States.

Other countries may have different exceptions about personal use.

I purchase a decent amount of digital-only content, and I always strip the DRM off of it. It's relatively easy to do this with content purchased in iTunes.

I'm not certified in pirate but how do you do that? I have purchased stuff in iTunes that I would rather not have just disappear.

Personally I use a Windows app that I'm not sure if I'm allowed link here, but ends in Kit. I would recommend doing so as soon as you download the content, as DRM methods may change in the future.

"Personally I use a Windows app that I'm not sure if I'm allowed link here, but ends in Kit."

This site (HN) is hosted in the United States so you can post any link you want to here.

Please don't propagate the mistaken notion that a URL can be illegal.

Please, further, don't malign HN by suggesting that they would moderate a post discussing a digital tool.

You can discuss the LOIC here[1]. You can discuss DeCSS[2] here. You can discuss Demuffin[3] here. You can discuss ToneLOC[4] here.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Orbit_Ion_Cannon

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeCSS

[3] http://www.textfiles.com/apple/CRACKING/adtech.txt

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ToneLoc

Dang I'm on a mac. Thanks for the info.

OP is referring to TunesKit. There is a Mac version.


Thank you!

My landlord can put a lock for which I don't have a key on my apartment door without telling me too. The question is not whether he can or can't lock my door. The question is whether or not the terms of our agreement allow him to block my access or not. The fact that people often don't understand the terms of there agreements is definitely a problem, but that's not what the headline implies unfortunately.

Once upon a time that agreement would've been "whenever the owner feels like it". Fortunately laws were passed for tenant rights. We've yet to do the same with abusive contracts of adhesion where you relinquish basic rights to lease a movie until the provider feels like removing it and provide you zero recourse.

I have a hard time applying terms like "abusive" to a situation that I entered in to voluntarily and to which all the terms were available to me prior to entering. Unless you mean that I am abusing myself, which is probably accurate.

So any contract is fair and there is absolutely no chance of coercion or intimidation by a party with an unfair negotiating advantage?

Yes, any contract in which all the terms are legal and to which both parties entered in to freely is "fair".

Is there a chance of coercion in regards to whether one of the parties entered the contract? Of course there is and if that's the case, it's not a contract.

I don't know what an "unfair negotiating" advantage is, at least not as it regards whether or not I enter a contract, so I can't really weigh in on that.

The law in the UK literally disagrees with you about how this works. In fact our Unfair Contract Terms Act (see that name? Turns out even the people who named this act of parliament disagree with your idea that if it's legal that makes it fair, they figured if it's unfair let's make it illegal) says that if you "freely" agree to these unfair terms they still can't work.

You can see this principle at work in Britain's short lease (as distinct from a long leases of say 99 years) residential property laws too. A bunch of potential terms for such leases are defined to be unfair. Some landlords - after this change - went to court and said "well, but my tenants signed to say they knew the terms were unfair and agreed anyway - see, it's right here on page sixty of the contact" and judges told them where they could stick their unfair contracts. So sure enough those terms went away.

As to how you tell, courts already know this. If party A wrote the contract and party B's options were to agree or GTFO then party A has an advantage. Its normal contract law - oh, McDonalds signed this lease, but Tiny Co wrote it, so Tiny Co were the ones at advantage and anything unclear must not be construed to their benefit.

I don't think the UCTA disagrees with me. What it does is creates a framework that further defines what is legal / enforceable. Until it says that one party being unhappy with the outcome because they didn't read contract constitutes unfairness, then I think we're actually on the same page.

It is more than plausible to abuse the legal system in ways that are (obviously) legal. If that claim is not what you are disputing, what is?

So it would be interesting if downvoters could, by way of reply, articulate how it is that contracts which are legal in all respects including all of the terms and the free will of those entering in to it, should be handled when they are deemed not to their liking after the fact.

If a large enough group of outsiders to the contract don't like the contract and can change the terms after the fact, wouldn't that undermine the confidence for people to enter in to them in the first place?

I haven't downvoted any comments here, but it's worth pointing out that the terms of service for any digital purchase are effectively impossible for most users to comprehensively read and understand. They're crazy long; I wish I could remember the estimate for how long each person would have to spend every year reading those agreements for all of their online services.

Anyway, people are free to be upset about terms and conditions even after they've "agreed" to them, particularly if those terms and conditions are widely recognized as onerous.

And, specifically to your point, courts have retroactively determined some conditions to be so flagrantly unfair that they've been stricken from contracts.

My point assumed, even though I didn't say it explicitly, that the terms of the contract allowed the landlord to do such a thing and that all the terms of the contract were legal.

It is common sense that when an asset is leased/rented to another party, if that other party does not pay on time or is somehow using the asset outside of the terms of the agreement, that the owner would remove access to the asset. If laws are made to subvert the ability to exercise common sense, that's a different issue.

As a side note, I am a landlord myself, and I have a hard time understanding what motivation I would have to be "abusive" with access to my rented properties. I am interested in getting paid and having my property not damaged beyond normal wear and tear. "Abusing" my tenants would not seem to further either of those two interests. It would be interesting to understand what exactly is being considered abuse. Though I get it is probably off topic.

Not all terms in a contract is legally enforceable and maybe consider unconscionable:


"The District of Columbia Court of Appeals returned the case to the lower court for trial to determine further facts, but held that the contract could be considered unconscionable and negated if it was procured due to a gross inequality of bargaining power."

"...where someone's consent to a bargain was only procured through duress, out of undue influence or under severe external pressure..."

Not sure that any of these definitions could be applied to this situation with a straight face, but even if they could, it's not really the point. I think the assumption is (or maybe it's only my assumption) that this is a contract that is enforceable. It sounds to me more like one of the parties didn't read all the terms and is now unhappy when they are being enforced.

Lived in a place once almost ten years ago. The landlord decided that because they lived upstairs they had the right to enter our suite whenever he wanted, despite this being completely illegal. One time my girlfriend came out of the shower to find him standing in our living room.

Came home once our door was just sitting open, the landlord had come in while we were gone and just left our door sitting open. The landlord.had come in and went through our drawers and stuff. Didn't tell us until we asked why our door was open.

We had the cops called on us for apparently smoking weed in the suite, we never did this, we also used to watch the landlords wife hang out with her son and his friends while they smoked weed in the front yard. By the time the cops left they told the landlord and his wife to stop bothering us...this never happened.

Our rental agreement was for a year. Our only recourse would have been to go through a long complaint process where we had to have a bunch of proof of this being an ongoing thing, then we'd have to sit down with an arbitrator and our landlord and once again prove this was happening. Luckily our landlord decided to break our rental agreement by whiting out the part, of the one copy that existed, we never even got a copy of it, that said one year, writing in pen 3 months then kicked us out so his adult son could live there. We also never got our damage deposit back with no reason given despite not even living in the place long enough to really even unpack.

In the end it worked out for the best but despite our landlord's continued breaking of our agreement and the law, we ended up losing our deposit, being forced to find a new place and move just after going back to school and we had no real options or recourse to stop any of it. Everything was set up to make any kind of complaint about landlords go through a lengthy arbitration process with the tenancy board and police won't get inolved, if a tenant complains, until after that fails, we tried calling the cops, they said to call the tenancy board.. The whole process for that would have taken longer than the three months we actually lived there and would have cost us money we really couldn't have afforded to spend.

This completely ignores the possibility of information or general power imbalance. Allowing some people to enter into relationships that are bad for one of the parties quickly escalates to a bad situation for everyone.

Put more contritely, there is a reason indentured servitude is not legal.

Again, I think you're implying that this contract is not enforceable. If that's the case, then my point is irrelevant. But that was not my reading of it.

No, I'm saying that just because people "willingly entered into a contract" doesn't mean that it is beneficial to society to allow them to do so. Some contracts should not be allowed.

If this is already compatible with what you were saying, apologies.

Because you’re renting. Can someone legally do that to a house you just bought from them because they did not pay their contractors? That scenario seems more akin to the current situation than the one you’re describing.

That's right. If real estate is the metaphor, then a purchase is probably closer.

To take that approach, the house I'm sitting in has a 1000 gallon propane tank buried in the side yard. It is typical in my area to finance (either lease or lease-to-own) tanks. So when I bought the property, I made sure to require that the seller provide evidence that he owned it free and clear. Had I not done that, and had the owner of the tank come over and removed it after I (or presumably the seller) stopped paying for it after the sale, I would accept that. I would kick myself for not thinking of it, but I'd accept it.

Fair enough. But the person who sold you the property would still be wrong which makes what Apple is doing wrong.

That being said, in reality, it appears (as many have pointed out) that digital product “sales” are actually closer to indefinite rentals. And as a result your original analogy is closer to reality, but is far from what people expect when they “buy” a movie from iTunes, since a reasonable expectation would be the house or propane tank purchase analogy.

Agreed. Apple is wrong if in the agreement there was no mention of the fact that Apple did not own the thing they were selling and that if the real owner chose to remove it from Apple someday then it would also be removed from the buyer. I'm assuming that would basically be fraud though and as such is not what's happening here. I'm assuming that the inability of Apple to provide access forever was spelled out up front. And I get that buyer's expectation does not match those terms of the agreement. But I'm not seeing any injustice. Maybe a lesson in buyer beware, but not any wrongdoing.

> I'm assuming that the inability of Apple to provide access forever was spelled out up front.

I don't see how that can be argued with a straight face unless when you hit the "buy" button the license expiration date was clearly marked. Obviously "we can terminate rights at our discretion" was buried in a mountain of legalese but nobody should be expected to read or understand what that means.

So "buried in a mountain of legalese" is the test for whether or not a term can be enforced? Trying to imagine how that can actually be implemented legally. Contracts shall not exceed 1000 words?

But in a more general sense, that's the function of title insurance: to offload the risk associated with liens on the property that you may not have known about at the time of purchase, including mechanic's liens which is what I think you're referring to.

That behavior is illegal in WA, and probably other states too. Landlord/tenant law supersedes the terms of the rental agreement.

Lockouts have been historically abusive, so the law here covers them specifically.

Then a contract that says otherwise would not be a contract right? Or at least that portion of it would not be?

It would be a contract, that term would be void/unenforceable (in Ontario).

Stipulations in a contract which are illegal (federal or state law) are unenforceable everywhere in the United States.

The difference is that this would be like you paying your rent on time, abiding by every rule, and then showing up to see the building was bulldozed while you were away.

The solution to this seems simple to me, Apple should prompt the customer to download a local copy. Or upload it automatically to that person's iCloud account.

In that case, the landlord did not abide by the terms of the agreement and he would be liable for damages to me. That is not the case in this situation if I understand correctly. This situation is one in which there is a legal contract and one of the parties has now decided they don't like it.

But with computers it needn't be that way. Computers allow us the power to be the ultimate masters of our own data. There's no reason to relinquish that power.

Presumably you mean with computers you own. The use case in this article involves the data on computers owned by Apple.

> people often don't understand the terms of there agreements

To me the problem is that we allowed corporations to invoke complex legal maneuvering such as redefining the legal definition of watching a movie, and requiring a legal agreement to do so, all for the purpose of further enriching apple and the movie industry.

Also I dispute whether it is an "agreement" after all. Did each consumer sit down and read a printed contract, forward it to their counsel for review, then sign on the dotted line before they watched The Incredibles 2 ? No, they didn't. There wasnt an "agreement" but rather a surrender of previously existing legal rights.

In fact, I think all these one-sided contracts should be called "rights surrenders" instead of "license agreements". By clicking "I surrender", you are now allowed to watch your digital copy of The Incredibles 2 some indeterminate non-zero number of times before it's randomly removed from your possession

Agreed. If there was no agreement, then there's definitely something to talk about. My position relies entirely on there being an enforceable agreement. Much popular debate these days ignores this fact and focuses instead on whether or not people think agreements are "fair" after they've been entered in to voluntarily.

Why "non-zero"? If you do not watch it immediately it still can be removed, unless I'm missing something?

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