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Amazon Argues Users Don't Own Purchased Prime Video Content (hollywoodreporter.com)
308 points by _Microft 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 223 comments



Fine. Change your CTAs from being labelled "Buy" to "Buy a limited license for on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time" if that's what it is. They currently use a discreet link on a single word "Terms", in a smaller font than anything else, which opens a 3000+ word document hosted on a different domain to avoid this. And there is also a dark pattern of mixing the words "buy", "order" and "purchase" in the same section of the page.

Is it time for a protected legal definition of "buy" which excludes this nonsense? Does the EU already do this?


I do believe it would be a great thing for these buttons to read "Rent Indefinitely" rather than "Buy", and also force these companies to outline in clear and short language within a popup near the button the general conditions under which the rental will be revoked. Like, "Company X may revoke your access to this content in situations where your account breaches the terms of service outlined [here], or if the original rights holders of the content force us to." Not even full ToS, just something to inform people that its possible.

And to be clear, there's a massive swath of digital content that needs regulation like this. Amazon movies, Kindle books, Steam/Xbox/PSN digital games, iTunes music purchases (though in situations like this, I think the word "Buy" is valid given that you're allowed a DRM-free download, but I think the popup should still be required with the language changed to read "...may revoke your access to re-download this content...").


I wonder if a better solution would be allowing people to really own digital goods they buy the way you do physical copyrighted goods. Someone tried to let you "sell" your iTunes library by deleting it off your hard drive and then giving it to someone else but they lost in court:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Records,_LLC_v._ReDigi....


> I wonder if a better solution would be allowing people to really own digital goods they buy the way you do physical copyrighted goods.

the situation with blurays and dvds is not much better. "own" is not quite the right word for what's going on here; it's more like a permanent transferable license. you can freely buy/sell them second-hand, but AFAIK it is technically still illegal to make backups, even for personal use (since it involves circumventing DRM).

as both a long-time torrenter and someone who works on proprietary software project, I'm somewhat conflicted on this topic. for the consumer, it's best to just get the product unencumbered by DRM and do what you want with it. on the flip side, I really need people to actually pay for the thing that I work on so I can get an income. not all pirated copies are "lost sales", but some are. I've certainly pirated stuff that I would have paid for and paid for stuff only because it wasn't cracked yet. not sure what the middle ground is here.

sadly, I'm not sure the average person even cares that much. I follow a couple specific TV shows where I'm invested in what happens next. with the current balkanization, it would probably cost me $50+ a month to have access to the handful of things I actually want to watch. but most people I know just want something to watch, often just to have it playing in the background. they don't particularly care what it is or if it was well-made.


I never really thought of this before, but now that I have I'm confused about backups. In particular, why do we back up some types things but not others?

I've never made backups of my books.

I've never made backups of my vinyl records or my cassette tapes.

I have made backups of all my CDs.

If the backup is to protect against loss of or damage to the media, I should be backing up books and records and tapes, and not backing up CDs. CDs live in a protective case, only coming out for short trips to a CD player, where they are played entirely enclosed, and playback does not cause any wear on the play surface.

Records and tapes are degrade slightly each time you play them. Books also suffer wear each time they are read, and are usually read in environments where they can suffer accidents.


CDs are easy to back up, comparatively, and they do degrade faster then the other options over time (5, 10, 15 years and many become unusable).


> 5, 10, 15 years and many become unusable

Wile writable CDs will decay relatively quickly, professionally mastered CD-ROMS will typically last longer.

On the other hand, a scratch in the wrong place can render a CD useless while a book with a torn out page will still be usable.


The reason we do not make backups of our books is because there is no reasonable technological way of doing so.


One can buy a second copy and donate it to the Library or give it to a friend. Now it's offsite, like all backups should be, and one doesn't advance technology much to achieve this. Depending on how you attribute a "cost" to the time it would take to make a duplicate of a physical copy, it may even be less expensive.


Photocopiers and OCR and both things which people have used for this purpose.

The time it takes to use them for that purpose though... ugh.


Interesting. I do have digital backups of all (or, nearly all... some are hard to find) of my physical books. I didn't make them from my own copy of course, but I still consider my digital library to be a backup of my physical bookshelves. Maybe this isn't as common as I had imagined, but I thought it was a fairly reasonable thing to do.


to be honest, I think "backup" is somewhat euphemistic. the real reason we "backup" CDs is because it is much more convenient to play their content from a computer than from a CD player. it's also trivial to make a lossless copy of a CD, unlike vinyl.


I did both.

I ripped them to my computer to play there and to download from there to my Archos Jukebox and later iPod.

But I also burned copies onto archival quality DVD-Rs, which are stored in my fireproof safe, and I think this definitely counts as a backup.


sure, I'm not saying the idea of archiving is illegitimate! just that I don't think this is why most people rip CDs. they do it because they want to make playlists, play songs on their ipod, etc. I don't think it even occurs to most people that a CD degrades over time.


Of course that would be a better solution; but its not a feasible one at this point. Our governments are corrupt and businesses are too large; the best we can hope for is protecting consumers as much as possible in attainable ways.

I would like to see a law which states that businesses cannot revoke your access to any discrete good you've purchased. Arguably, media companies wouldn't be the primary aggrieved party of a law like that; it really hurts Amazon (et al) more than anyone, being legally forced to continue serving video files you've purchased even in the face of Terms of Service breaches and such.

Which is perfect. That's exactly what we want. If Amazon has to guarantee access to content, the easiest way to fulfill that requirement is to offer downloads for customers (which I think should be a fulfillment of that requirement, and its alright if they terminate an account so long as a download was offered for all content). Of course, the Media companies Definitely don't want that, so now we have the media companies and tech companies fighting each other. Laws which disrupt the alignment of incentives between companies are the best kind of laws.


"Revocable Rental" should be the only permitted button text in most digital licensing situations.


> By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms.

goes here

https://www.primevideo.com/help?nodeId=202095490&view-type=c...


"Rent Temporarily" with a comment "Rent can be terminated by renter at any time, without ability to appeal". Because "rent indefinitely" is definitely incorrect since it is impossible.


"Indefinitely" does not mean "forever"; it means "the end is not defined". The end could be tomorrow, or in a thousand years; its just unknown and not communicated at this time.

This is a similar misconception to the word "infinite", which many people believe means "an unending amount" but actually just means "not finite"; an amount large enough that it can't be quantified, but still an amount nonetheless. This comes into play in mathematics when talking about some infinities being larger than others.

If you take a nihilistic view of the universe, then everything is temporary, and thus even the DVDs you've purchased should have been advertised as a temporary rental. That's not very useful, though.


Leasehold?


Wouldn’t the better option be to have regulation that prevent Both the rights seller (Hollywood) & the seller From revoking the sale/license, and guaranteeing it in the company’s perpetuity?

Essentially, require that Buy be Buy, and that the rights licensee can’t screw over the third party (consumers)

Not sure how to handle it I’d say VEVO declared bankruptcy tho


The license that Amazon has doesn't even need to change for there to be undesirable customer outcomes. I didn't realise the extent of the geo-locking of content bought through Prime Video, for example. So a film I bought while living in the UK is now unavailable to me in Sweden, despite both countries being served by Prime Video.


This happened to me as well. You don't even have to move, if you go on a business trip the content becomes unavailable as well. The EU had a public comments period in relation to this a few years back, but I haven't heard much since.

I assume that the geo-blocking is still somewhat relevant in regards to protectionism for the dubbing industry in some member states.


If you're talking about geo-blocking in general, and why it's relevant, there's plenty of reasons. The dubbing industry is probably just one piece of the puzzle. It's not fun or sexy, but there's reasons. Different countries have different rules and censorship. Companies also want controlled marketing campaigns targeting specific regions. Film media is an expensive asset and companies are protective of it.


This seems like a problem for everyone - corporate interests, repressive governments, etc. - but the end consumer, who just wants to watch a damn movie.


I am not talking about geo-blocking in general, but rather why the EU allows this break down of the vision of a single market.

It would be absolutely preposterous to not be able to use your Berlin Netflix account when you are on a business trip in Bonn, but somehow it is acceptable when you go to Brussels. What do EU member states gain from this? Sure you can allege regulatory capture and subservience to the producer's desires, but I assume it is more benign than that and merely market protectionism.


This is orthogonal, and protecting the meaning of the word Buy sounds easier to achieve than outright attacking the publisher's business model, so I'd start with the former.

Making people acutely aware they're not buying content, but only renting it temporarily, would already help change the conversation.


> Wouldn’t the better option be to have regulation that prevent Both the rights seller (Hollywood) & the seller From revoking the sale/license, and guaranteeing it in the company’s perpetuity?

So how would this law work? The reality is that compound works are always, always made up of third party bits of copyright. So are films required to clear any music in perpetuity, no matter what? Goodbye to musicals. What happens if rights are in dispute and a supplier loses the rights to the title, or parts of a title (this happens a lot)? What happens if an estate of a creator files to have the IP in a character revert to them after fifty years?

How are you going to have this regulation pass in every country in the world at the same time?

Or is this one of these things that's easy to glibly say but basically impossible to do?


What are you talking about? That's exactly how it works for VHS, DVDs, CDs, Blurays, books.

Once I buy media, nobody is coming to my house to prevent me from watching it just because there was some legal issues between unrelated parties. That's up to them to solve on their own, in courts.

Just because we have ways to revoke users' access to legally bought media doesn't mean it's ok to do.


The gaming industry and the RIAA are in an interesting situation regarding compound works. Some games license music for their soundtrack, and the games developers want to license streamers to broadcast their games. But the streamer is not covered by the terms of the music license, so their content gets DMCA'ed. But even if the terms of the music license were to be adapted to allow for live streaming of the game, how could one detect that a song is being played as part of a game stream with the right license?


> Change your CTAs from being labelled "Buy" to "Buy a limited license for on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time" if that's what it is.

It should be the other way round. If it said "Buy", the buyer is deemed to have been sold it and owns it. If it turns out the buyer did now own it to sell it in the first place (eg. someone else held the rights, not the purported "seller"), then the seller now owes the buyer a refund.

The situation should be dealt with just like any other fraudulent misrepresentation/misleading labelling, whether driven by a corporate marketing department or not.


>Is it time for a protected legal definition of "buy" which excludes this nonsense?

I'd go much further than that, "buy" is just one of the completely business washed words which now have no meaning: luxury, unlimited, complete, total, advanced, ... the list goes on.

If you have an army of lawyers and clever marketing team, you can pretty much use intentional ambiguity in English (I suspect any language) to get away with false advertising on a regular basis.


I don't mind if they call it "buy", as long as customers are entitled to a refund in case a work becomes unavailable.


No, I think buy should have a very clear meaning.

No one is going to read all the legal gobbledygook.

When I buy something, I assumed it cannot be taken away. If it can be taken away, then I did not buy it. Ileased it or rented it, but I did not buy it.

The world is already too complicated for many people. If we are going to give people any hope of understanding what they are agreeing to, then we need to make sure that words mean something.


"Entitled to a refund" is not the same as "made whole". Consumers want the latter, companies usually want the former.

For starters there's inflation, so if I spend $10 today and 20 years from now they revoke the license or whatever and give me 10 2040-dollars, that's not going to be the same buying power as the $10 in 2020 dollars.

Second, the media landscape may have shifted by then. If the only company in 2040 that can give me another, comparable "indefinite rental license" or whatever is charging $100, I want Amazon to pay _that_.


> entitled to a refund

Are customers solely responsible for only buying from monopolists so that the store they purchased from can provide refunds when the content later (inevitably) becomes unavailable?


> "Buy a limited license for on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time"

Which is long form for ”rent” :-)


Renting contracts are almost always time constrained


And generally your landlord cannot terminate the lease any second they want.


Not everywhere, there's countries where it's "open ended", i.e. if your agreement expires, you default to a month-by-month basis until you renew it.


this is still a time constrained rental. if you don’t pay for the upcoming month you lose access


> over an indefinite period of time

I don't know with Amazon, but with Google streaming "purchases" are linked to one email. You lose that email, and you've lost access. Transfers are not possible.


Even requiring “Buy License” would be a good step IMO.


I'm surprised they haven't already sidestepped this by making the button say "Add to Library" with a price.


I use playon.tv which I purchased during my undergraduate and frequently forget about. It allows one to record content from services they are subscribed to in a DVR-like fashion. The interface is kinda jank but it works just fine. I recorded a bunch of shows i wanted to watch before i moved house and lost internet for a week.

On the implementation front, i believe they run a headless chrome instance and record the media as it streams in real time. So they aren't downloading the source files, just recording. This has the unfortunate side effect of baking in subtitles or if the chrome instance is asking for you to accept cookies it shows up over the top of the recording.

Apologies if this is a bit incoherant, whenever the owning of media comes up, it always reminds me i have the software installed


This should be an easy enforcement action for the FTC under existing authority. Either these stores explain you are buying a license for an indefinite period of use, or they ensure you actually own a copy.

Considering how unpopular tech companies are in politics right now, an advocacy group pushing for this could possibly be successful.

It would required petitions, landing pages with catchy phrases, etc...


I 100% agree this would be a big step forward.


not just that, the whole concept of tos is broken


> Is it time for a protected legal definition of "buy" which excludes this nonsense? Does the EU already do this?

No, no country in the world does this, because it's basically impossible to do if a work contains other licensed bits of copyright.


I can buy a physical book, or a car, even if there's IP on some of the items within. It's entirely possible.


I foolishly purchased an album or two from Google Play Music, which will be defunct by year end. Maybe the 'ownership' license will transfer over to Youtube Music if I migrate my subscription, but what if I don't? It doesn't seem logical that I lose the ability to listen to music that I purchased just because the intermediary that I purchased it through has gone. Do not the rights holders keep track of who owns licenses to listen to what? Shouldn't they be tracking this information on the other side of their business than the one that sends questionable DMCA(-ish?) take-down notices to github for potential copyright infringement usage?

I won't be migrating my subscription to YT Music. I won't be purchasing any more music, movies, or TV shows that I can't store locally and backup via simple scripts with tools like rsync and robocopy.

Purchasing a license to stream a specific item via a specific service is, literally, buying nothing.

The Internet remembers everything. Except your digital copyright licenses. It's anti-consumer turtles all the way down.


> It doesn't seem logical that I lose the ability to listen to music that I purchased just because the intermediary that I purchased it through has gone.

It is very logical, and this is the point that many of us, advocates of owning over renting, try to explain to people, unsuccessfully. You didn't purchase a license to content. You purchased a temporary license to listen to a piece of content on a particular service - a license that's valid only as long as the service wants it to, and definitely won't outlive the service itself. Basically: you're renting, not owning. It's all there in the terms you agreed to. Except, of course, services design the UX to make it seem like you're buying, and not borrowing.

(EDIT: this applies to most services people use for music, videos and other digital goods, even when they offer you to "purchase" copies instead of paying subscription fees - like Amazon here, or Steam games. That said, I see there is an option to download MP3s from Google Music, so perhaps the licensing terms there technically give you permanent license for the content itself. iTunes would be similar, IIRC.)

> Do not the rights holders keep track of who owns licenses to listen to what? Shouldn't they be tracking this information on the other side of their business

They do not, because they don't want to. It's against their interests. With the way things are, they get to charge you multiple times for the same piece of content.

Let's be happy that books predate modern IP laws, because otherwise bookshelves and libraries wouldn't be a thing now.

> Purchasing a license to stream a specific item via a specific service is, literally, buying nothing.

Exactly. That's the big "secret".


> It is very logical, and this is the point that many of us, advocates of owning over renting, try to explain to people, unsuccessfully. You didn't purchase a license to content. You purchased a temporary license to listen to a piece of content on a particular service - a license that's valid only as long as the service wants it to, and definitely won't outlive the service itself. Basically: you're renting, not owning. It's all there in the terms you agreed to. Except, of course, services design the UX to make it seem like you're buying, and not borrowing.

That is not true for music. DRM-free downloads of purchased music have been the industry standard for pretty much all digital music stores for over a decade now - from iTunes to Bandcamp.

In that regard music differs from video and gaming since the fact that it's sold DRM-free enables you to truly own your digital music collection. Obviously this doesn't apply to streaming options which are much closer to renting, but that's self-explanatory I think.


That's another thing with lifetime licenses when dealing with DRMs.

It's not your lifetime, it's the lifetime of the service and company behind it.


Does Google music not allow you to download the albums as a pack of MP3s?


O' lord, you're right, the option is right there in small text under Transfer to Youtube Music: Manage Your Data.

Thanks for pointing this out, that takes most of the sting out of my eternal September-style ranting.


Allowing customers to download the content in a common format seems like a solution to lots of problems. Maybe that should be legislated as a requirement of selling digital goods?


It does -- and if Youtube Music lets you upload music files like GPM did (not sure if they've added this feature yet or not, I know they claimed they would), that's one avenue.

However, I've noticed that the one album I've ever purchased through GPM is not available on YTM and even though I purchased it, it is still greyed out in my transferred playlists.

Lesson learned -- I'm just glad I only ever made that mistake once and didn't lose a library (or would have to painstakingly download each album manually and reupload)

EDIT:

To be clear, not only did the "ownership" of the music not transfer, but (presumably) because of a change in licensing agreements the music has become entirely unavailable in any form. At least, it will once GPM goes offline.


You just admitted you were able to download the album. If you want to own the music then you download it. You don't buy a movie and then keep it at the store and say whenever I want to watch this to you have to keep it here for me indefinitely until I decide to watch it and then when I do you gotta keep holding onto it until next time.


You and the other comments are right -- this isn't the same as Amazon or other digital stores where you have no ability to download the content.

However, I wouldn't compare this to a movie store, or a music store. At least while I used it, GPM wasn't positioned as a store where you buy music and take it home, it's an app/ecosystem where you listen to music.

So I'd argue a more apt comparison is it's like buying a movie at a store with sofas and televisions for watching the movies, where you can purchase content and ask for it to be displayed, and can optionally take the disk home.

Stretching the analogy too far probably, but GPM didn't exactly encourage downloading FWIW -- can only download a song twice ever through the web interface, or all at once through takeout, or through a chrome extension/app, otherwise it's all on the GPM app, where you're "supposed" to listen to it.

You do have the right to download DRM-free music though, so at least GPM had that.

... youtube music on the other hand ...


>>this isn't the same as Amazon or other digital stores where you have no ability to download the content.

Admittedly I haven't done this for a year or two, but last time I bought an album on amazon it came with a digital download which was just DRM-free MP3 files. Maybe that's not the case anymore, I don't know.


> You and the other comments are right -- this isn't the same as Amazon or other digital stores where you have no ability to download the content.

You do have the ability to download films on Amazon.

(They're DRMed, and you can't transfer them to another device, but they don't expire).


Well put, I’ve had to learn the same lesson. Now I use Bandcamp where I can properly purchase/own/download archival DRM-free music. It’s a great service.


Can't you download your purchased album using Google Takeout?


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that rings hollow considering youre able to download them at the moment as mp3. just because you paid money in an online service once doesn't mean you can expect to be able to redownload it forever going forward.

they might've given you that service, but thats a very different complaint then what this article is about - which is that people that bought it cannot download it and its amazon's choice to revoke their access at their will.


> I foolishly purchased an album or two from Google Play Music, which will be defunct by year end.

I never used Google Play Music, but don't they sell DRM-free music like every other digital music outlet from iTunes to Bandcamp? If so, the files are yours to keep, aren't they?

Obviously Google (or iTunes, Bandcamp and others) aren't responsible for hosting and backing up your media indefinitely. That's the buyer's duty in my opinion.


You can download owned music up to 3 times, maybe more now. When I stopped buying albums in GPM and subscribed I downloaded everything, including uploaded music, and saved off for Plex.


The problem with downloading locally is that, if the police comes (assuming privacy is illegal in your country), you'd still have to explain how you got a hold of them.


Glad I live in a country where (a) the state can not enforce private intellectual property disputes so police can not get involved, only lawyers who can write letters and rent court time and (2) it is explicitly legislated that possession and even copying of digital materials is not an offence, only the distribution of the same could be.


That's an interesting take. It would mean you need to keep purchase receipts of all digital stuff forever. Now, how does it compare to physical media, like CDs/DVDs/BRs? They could have been stolen too, you know. Shouldn't the onus be on the accusing party to prove you stole them?


I've heard of people being caught pirating because of their isp monitoring their traffic. I've never heard of someone being retroactively accused of piracy because they owned unexplained mp3s. I'm sure it's never happened anywhere.


I don't know the laws in other countries, but in Poland owning unlicensed media is not a crime, only distribution is. That's why there are vulture litigators who sue you when you connect to a torrent network and start seeding, but they can't do anything about you downloading.


> assuming privacy is illegal in your country

Assuming this is a typo, it's a funny one. It's starting to seem like privacy is illegal, or will be soon.


The consistent push toward the "sharing economy" and or the "gig economy" makes me very uneasy, especially when it comes to physical things like houses, cars, or food. The end result will be that regular people don't own anything and don't know how to do things, whether that's repair your vehicle or cook a meal at home. When push comes to shove, the corporation actually owning such things can cut you off with virtually no consequences.


This does concern me. For example, if I buy kindle books instead of physical books, my kids can't enjoy those books when I'm gone. I have a car that can now do software unlocking of physical features (e.g. rear heated seats). Am I adding value to the car which I can sell to the next person, or am I licensing the right to that feature for the duration for my own use.

We're moving to a model where we spend the same, but their value is zero when considering the value of our assets.


thanks for pointing this out. For a while i had an uneasy feeling about this, and they way you have put it gives words to those: digital assets that we create and are licensed really can't be passed on generationally. Taking it to an extreme - imagine not having physical transcripts of historic documents - e.g. the constitution - and its effect on a country's trajectory (not that constitution would stay always relevant in it's original form - but still)


the part about your kids really resonates with me. a lot of my taste was formed by going through my parents old books and records.



To add to that, Kindle store is actually two things combined:

1. An eBook distributor 2. A "PayPal replacement" that let's you send $$$ to authors.

They theoretically have a monopoly on #1, but in practice piracy exists and potentially does it better.

They don't and can't stop people from setting up a platform for sending $$$ to authors - in fact, you could even have a database of authors, their books and the RRP of those books, and an embeddable button to pay the author an RRP's worth. That could then be embedded on arbitrary piracy sites.

The piracy sites could be shut down, but realistically the pirate sites are too portable to be shut down for long, and private trackers make some sites impractical to shut down at all.


> I have a car that can now do software unlocking of physical features (e.g. rear heated seats)

Was this a permanent unlock, or do you need a subscription to unlock the rear heated seats?


Well and is the permanent unlock transferable? There was that fellow who bought a Tesla from a used-car dealer and had a bunch of paperwork stating certain things were unlocked that when he bought them got disabled because he wasn't licensed for them.


Yeah, it's pretty much this. Apparently Tesla locks the features when the car is sold to them. The guy in question had a broken paper trail but apparently it was sorted.

What is worrying is that these aren't clearly explained when you make the purchase. And it's really down to the company's policy, which if all companies do the same, the consumer ends up having no choice.


Supposedly the story is: Tesla bought a car back then sold it to an auction house and enabled FSD as a "demo". The auction house mistakenly listed the features as being enabled, and when the car sold Tesla never disabled the FSD demo. When the user then privately sold the car to a new owner, the new owner performed an ownership transfer - when they did this, either a human or some automated system saw that the FSD demo was enabled and disabled it.

0: https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-disables-autopilot-on-...


All I know is that it's a one time payment, but it's not obvious if that's transferable to the next owner.


> if I buy kindle books instead of physical books, my kids can't enjoy those books when I'm gone.

Do you think your kids will want to read their ancestors’ books? I have watched even ardent bibliophiles among my friends gradually lose interest in books, because they grow accustomed to consuming snackable content on the internet, and I have little confidence that books will be a mainstream pastime for following generations.


Dude, is your question for real? Just because you hang out with those people, you think it's not necessary for books to be transferrable to kids? It's currently possible to pass on books, DVDs, MP3s to kids, and a corporate-controlled future where that's not possible without them getting a cut is a stupid future.


I really don't think their point was that it's not necessary for books and other physical media to be transferable to kids. I saw it more as an anecdote that I think probably a lot of people would, unfortunately, nod in agreement with.

To your point, however, I do agree. I think one of the major benefits of physical media (or even digital media as long as it's entirely self-hosted) is that you can enjoy it entirely without surveillance, and that it's much more resistant to censorship. Being able to read about and understand how people lived, thought, and created in the past is incredibly important, and it's something we should preserve for the benefit of future generations, even if they might sometimes contain things that one might not necessarily agree with today.


> you think it's not necessary for books to be transferrable to kids?

Where did I say that? Obviously it is nice to be able to hand things down to one's children. But what I am questioning is whether the envisioned scenario (children of the future being enamored by dad or granddad's old books) is really likely to happen.


It's the inferred interpretation. Fine, your lawyer could go to court and successfully defend that you didn't utter that question, but in my mind you're arguing that would future generations even want to read books, so should we even care about e-products being transferable?


> Do you think your kids will want to read their ancestors’ books?

Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but how are we to know that with certainty today? The whole point is that if the opportunity is taken away now, then that guarantees that they won't be able to in the future. Beyond that, they would also lose the possibility of otherwise sharing them with someone else who might be interested in reading them, and I think that would be a loss as well.


The best books I own & re-read are over 30 years old.

At the same time, most every decent library should own a few copies of them. They're all well known, at least in their industries niche.


I think there's something to be said for having the physical object that belonged to someone you knew. For example, I was recently given my mother's collection of 7"s. Yes, they're completely impractical by today's standards and I can find almost all of those songs on Spotify, but the collection included her handwritten index and notes scribbled in the columns about memories connected to the various songs in it.

I don't have a specific example in mind, but I'm sure the same applies to books people have inherited from friends and family. People write all sorts of interesting notes in books, tuck photos in between the pages, etc. These items offer a connection that a library book or its digital equivalent (often) cannot.


Yeah, I have a dictionary that belonged to my grandfather, which is in the language he spoke. It's just a generic, paperback book, but the physical item has meaning to me. I can't imagine a $Language Kindle dictionary would have remotely the same relevance.


I feel bad about it too.

I'll just quote what I wrote the other day[0] on the topic of "throwing money at things" instead of doing or owning things yourself:

"Why would you own things and accept responsibility for maintaining them, if you could just throw money at the service provider and have the thing be present when it's needed? Of course the thing will be extremely limited in what you can do with it, subject to Terms&Conditions, but why would you want to do anything non-standard with stuff? There's always another service you can throw money at to solve the same problem.

What's the end-game here? That we specialize into sub-species of humans, forever stuck in one role, with zero autonomy? No longer building wealth, we'll only be allocating the flow of money - from what Society gives us in reward for our work, straight to Services of said Society? Will we become specialized cells of the meta-multicellular organism Society becomes?

I can see how we're on the path towards that reality, and I absolutely hate it."

--

[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24787804


I see the same thing and it's disheartening. At least we're not immortal, now that would be hell in such a system.

And the main problem is (imho) that people just seem to hate responsibility. It all stems from that, at the core it's all just shifting responsibility onto something or someone who will take it.


The rent-seeking economy, just create more renters to increase the amount you can skim off the top.


Anyone wondering how this might look like may like reading "Radicalized" by Cory Doctorow


Try not paying your real estate taxes and you'll discover that you're only renting the land under your house. The local authorities have the ability to confiscate and sell your dwelling if you don't pay your taxes.


There's a slight difference between paying government taxes for the land you've purchased and renting a book from a private corporation.

The government taxes pay for services which can directly and indirectly benefit you. For example, they pay for providing a force which will help against unlawful intruders, pay for the manpower who will help you should your house catch on fire, pay for the maintenance of roads, and so forth.

Amazon's revenue... lines the pockets of Amazon's investors.


I want to add one thing here: Owning is sometimes also a burden. There is a whole sub culture focusing on downsizing (there are fans which are owning less than 100 items .. and that includes battery cable).

But I agree also with your statement.


Yes, but normally you have some degree of choice. You can choose to rent or buy depending on your circumstances and needs. It's bad enough enough that the degree of 'choice' is very limited for a lot of people, but it is clear that the political direction of tax law, corporate law, is toward the direction of establishment of a permanent aristocracy that owns everything and everyone else is completely dependent on them.


The sharing and gig economy aren't the problem. The companies are.


> houses

have a look at leaseholds in UK.


and the unregulated estate charges now where they can seize your house if you fail to pay.


Which apply to freeholds too - leaseholders actually have more rights!


I'm currently in the process of buying an house which is subject of estate charges, and I'm very worried about those.


I got a new build last year and it's not really an issue, just something to be aware of. The only thing I worry about is the escalating prices in a few years, but you have the benefit of the whole estate being in the same situation, so you can club together to complain I guess.


I don't think it's just that. I think it's the corporations having engaged in decades long propaganda pushing towards unlimited capitalism. It's a new brand of authoritarianism. Corporations make all the rules and have all the power. If we as a consumer make a single mistake, we are to pay for it, yet consumers have essentially zero power towards a corporation. Corporations are given nearly endless rights on what they can do and own, and consumers are quickly having ownership rights yanked out from us. Corporations own our data, many of the products we "buy", and even what we can do with the things we "buy".


When I go on `primevideo.com` it tells me "Rent 3,99€" or "Buy 9,99€", which adds even more to the confusion.

They shouldn't be allowed to call it "buy" if it doesn't mean I own the content I "bought".


Steam allows you to 'buy' a game. On your Profile page it even shows the number you 'own'.

Yet you 'own' none. All you 'buy' is a licence which can be revoked at any time should Steam, the Publisher or some other entity decide to do so.

I would imagine that if Amazon and Steam changed 'buy' to 'licence' their income would fall off a cliff.


When I buy a film on disk, I have a reasonable expectation that I own the film and can play it as long as I wish. Why should it be different just because I bought it in a different format?

I hope consumer right groups and maybe the EU can crack down on this clear abuse of "wording".


They already did, EU has ruled multiple times that you should be allowed to re-sell your digital content. Companies keep being brought to court over it and losing consistently. In spite of that, I don't understand how Steam and other digital stores haven't been forced to implement this yet.


Depending on what limits can be imposed on the re-selling, I've always been afraid that laws like this could potentially be quite dangerous for digital goods markets.

If we would apply the First Sale doctrine in the fullest to digital content, secondary marketplaces would pop-up where people just rented games by the hour instead of purchasing them. With the transaction costs being really low, and the utilisation rate for many games being fairly low, this seems like a no brainer.

There are important differences between physical content and digital content that need to be considered.


First sale in the US already has something to deal with this.

17 USC 109(a) is what most people think of when they talk of the first sale doctrine in the US. That's the part that says that owner of a particular lawfully made copy "is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord".

Renting is included under "otherwise dispose of the possession".

What is less well known is 17 USC 109(b)(1)(A). That carves out an exception for copies of sound recordings of musical works and copies of computer programs ("including any tape, disk, or other medium embodying such program"). The exception prohibits "for the purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage" disposing of or authorizing disposal of possession of that copy by "ental, lease, or lending, or by any other act or practice in the nature of rental, lease, or lending", unless authorized by the copyright owner.

So for programs, first sale allows selling copies but not renting them (same for musical recording). Hence, the reason you saw back in the CD days many places selling used music CDs and used software CDs, but not many selling rentals of those. (There were software rental stores, but they were not operating legally).

There is also exception to the exception. 17 USC 109(1)(B) says that 109(1)(A) does not apply to:

(1) a computer program which is embodied in a machine or product and which cannot be copied during the ordinary operation or use of the machine or product; or

(2) a computer program embodied in or used in conjunction with a limited purpose computer that is designed for playing video games and may be designed for other purposes.

That's why it is legal to rent console games, such as GameFly does. It's also why rental car companies don't have to get permission from whoever owns the copyright on the engine control unit software or the entertainment system software.

There are other exceptions in 17 USC 109 for things like nonprofit educational institutions and libraries which are not relevant to this discussion. If anyone wants to read the whole thing, here it is: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/109


Yes, I hope they introduce some measures to keep utilization rates low. Maybe say that you can only transfer it once a year or something like that.


It's really simple - after you submit the request to Steam it takes 3 days to transfer ownership. Problem solved.


Judge in Germany decided games are Art and not Software, thus dont fall under the ECJ UsedSoft/Oracle decision.


You don't own the film on disk. You own a license which can be very restrictive, and you own a physical medium (i.e. the disk itself)

You cannot copy that disk, you can't play it in front of large audiences, you can't modify it and redistribute it etc. You don't own it, and the license can be revoked and changed at any point. It's not practical to always enforce this, but you agreed to the license when you purchased it, it's the same with online media, it's just easier to enforce, hence you see more application of licenses with online mediums.


>> but you agreed to the license when you purchased it,

That part specifically isn't true in all of EU. There is no such thing as implicit licences at purchase time - that's why EULA and the likes of it are worth as much as toilet paper here. And in a lot of countries you can absolutely make copies of the discs you own, no legal issue at all. You usually can't show it to large audiences, but that's not because of the licence terms, but because the laws of the country prohibit it without paying a fee to the national association of artists. If I want to show a Blu-Ray I bought to a large group of people I need to pay a nominal fee to my country's national artist's association and then it's completely legal - but I don't even need to tell the distributor of the movie, or the owner of the copyright at all, that's not my problem. Same with playing music at events and such - a fee is paid to a national organisation governing this, the distributor can say whatever they want on the box but it's just irrelevant.

>>, you can't modify it and redistribute it etc

Of course you can in certain ways and formats, "fair use" is even allowed in such restrictive countries as US.


I guess ones feelings about this depends on how you define "ownership". There's obviously something different, in all countries where the concept of intellectual property exists, between say an M8 bolt and a sculpture.

You can do whatever you want with the bolt. Measuring the treads and making 3D printed copies, taking photos off it and selling those. It's yours to the fullest extent.

You can't create and sell copies of the sculpture, in some jurisdictions you can't even sell photos of the sculpture. You can't freely make a derivative work of the sculpture.

Ownership of a copy of IP is different than ownership of other things. And ownership of digital copies of IP is so very different that it's almost not a thing.


> There is no such thing as implicit licences at purchase time - that's why EULA and the likes of it are worth as much as toilet paper here.

But EULAs are not implicit, usually you have to explicitly agree to them before you can use the product?


Yes, but EU has also ruled that any post-purchase licence is not valid. At this point you already paid for the software, its use cannot be conditional on agreeing to a licence contained within. If it is for technical reasons(the software won't install without clicking agree) then the act of agreeing is meaningless in itself.


Even if you had to agree to the EULA before buying the product, it might still be invalid. There are laws in the EU limiting terms of service and similar non-negotiable pre-purchase contracts to unsurprising, expected-by-the-consumer, fair and equitable terms. Meaning that if there is a "buy" terminology used in the contract process, small-print cannot change that to "obtain a limited license", because that would be surprising and unfair.


> "fair use" is even allowed in such restrictive countries as US.

The fair use doctrine doesn't even exist in most of Europe, so I wouldn't consider the US especially restrictive.


It might not be called that, but most countries(this is difficult to generalize, as this is not unified in EU regulations) have at least some provisions for comedy/parody, reviews, previews and discussions use of otherwise copyrighted material.


Not quite. There isn't really a concept of licensing with optical media (nor any media that proceeded it). What you did was buy the copy but not the copyright.

You do have rights to copy the disc, depending on the content and the country. This is described as a backup. Things get very murky here though because in some countries backing up software discs is seen as different to backing up CD content. And then DVD has a whole other set of problems because circumventing DRM is another legal issue aside from copying the video content (and different countries have different laws for DRM and some even have exemptions specifically for DRM in DVDs).

With regards to redistribution, you're allowed to sell second hand optical media -- irrespective of the content on them. In fact there are entire businesses based around reselling second hand DVDs and CDs (eg Music Magpie in the UK).

As for performance, this is where things get a bit murky again. Audio performances are allowed if you are registered with the PRS (or similar organisation) as they redistribute members license fees with the content owners. The PRS are woefully bad at what they do and in effect they're just a legal payment protection racket, but that's a whole other topic. Performing data content would be subject to copyright too but it would depend on what was played as to which clause of copyright was in effect -- and in fact it could span multiple different clauses (much like music would have a copyright for songs writer as well as the recording artist, games would have copyrights on the music, artwork, etc and that IP might not be owned by the same publisher). I don't know the law (any international laws) regarding performing DVDs aside that some countries have exemptions for schools perform.

Then you have something called "fair use" which grants permissions to use, redistribute and even modify copyrighted content -- albeit with a strict set of caveats.

Needless to say, things were complicated enough even before internet distribution changed the way content was "licensed".


Those restrictions are all just features of copyright law, not of a license. While the DRM associations have made outlandish claims at times, I'm not aware of any serious attempt to say that you don't own a copy of a movie when you buy it on Blu-ray or DVD.

The DRM coupled with the DMCA's anticircumvention provisions combine to make it illegal to do things that would otherwise be fair use, but this isn't because of a license.

One very important right you get by owning a copy is "first sale," that the copyright owner can't restrict you from transferring or selling the copy, and this is unaffected by the DRM. The store down the street that buys and sells CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays is evidence of that.

Even with the limitations of DRM, there's a very real difference between the kind of ownership you have with a disc and the lack of it that you have with pure-digital "buying" from most sources. (Though I believe there's some movement toward increasing consumers' rights to these kinds of digital "copies," in Europe at least.)


If I own the physical disc, do I not also own the pits and lands on that disc?


You do, but the pits and lands carry a colour, "encodes data under copyright protection".

See also, "What Colour are your bits?": https://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/entry/23.


While they can revoke purchases, they've only done that for fraud (e.g.: stolen credit card, chargeback, etc.). I have plenty of games from publishers who went off Steam, unsupported titles taken off the store, games no longer sold due to expired music licenses, etc. -- and they're all in my Steam library to this day.

AFAIK most game platforms resort to just delisting and respecting purchases, with the notable exception of P.T. becoming unavailable for redownload even if you already claimed it[1]. (Except it was a free mini-game and not a purchase) The system isn't even meant to remove owned content to the point that P.T. is still in people's redownload lists, but the download itself results in HTTP 404.

And with Steam, there's always the "option" of downloading your entire library and archiving that. IIRC Steam's DRM is notoriously easy to crack (simple DLL replacement) and things like first-time-setup (additional registry keys, redistributables, etc.) are stored per-game in simple JSON-like files. That wouldn't cover game-specific DRM but it at least covers Steam itself.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.T._(video_game)#Removal_and_...


They can also lock you out for 'fraud' such as starting the game twice on your pc for split-screen multiplay, running some Wine fork or virtualization that they see as anti-theft circumvention, and so on.


No, that's not what I meant and they don't lock you out for fraud either.

By "fraud" I meant: buying a game with a stolen payment method, that's it. If someone does that, the specific game gets removed from their account and this message[1] is shown. The rest of their account remains untouched.

About the rest of your scenarios: They don't look at how many times you launch a game (I launched 2+ copies of a game many, many times). If a game bans you for whatever reason -- like anti-cheat misdetections -- the multiplayer-only ban is only for that game and done by the publisher (not Steam). You're confusing Valve/Steam with EasyAntiCheat, BattlEye, etc.

Steam doesn't even phone home if DRM fails, the game just doesn't launch; DRM meddling doesn't get you banned or anything.

[1] https://i.imgur.com/Ye6Ee2Y.png


To be slightly fair, when EA pulled all of their games from Steam for a number of years and went strictly to Origin, those licenses were still valid. I don't recall any Steam games that straight up disappeared but that's not to suggest your core idea is incorrect of course


This is still being litigated in Europe, but at the last decision I can find reference to (in France, Sept 2019) it was ruled that what steam does is sell a licensed copy. Therefore you can resell the copy you get from Steam and they cannot revoke the license either (excepting maybe some other violations of terms of service like cheating or harassing other players).

This hinges on the fact that the license is indefinite. So presumably, this would also hold over Amazon and is probably what most consumers assume is the case. The fact that Amazon also chooses to use the word buy probably makes the applicability even stronger.

Edit: where I say "You can resell" it should be understood "You ought to be able to resell" since it is still in appeal.


At least in the case of steam, you can download all your games. Even better on GOG that has no DRM


Is it different on GOG cosidering they "sell" DRM-free executables?


AFAIk yes. With GOG you get your installers and everything and you run them / install them without any additional client just as any app on your system. It's why I've been buying games there more than on Steam


Downloading a game without DRM (versus one with steam's DRM) doesn't mean you have the right to copy and redistribute that game all you want - with GOG you still only get a license to play the game and can't redistribute or sell it to anyone else.


I know that. But even if GOG goes bankrupt tomorrow I still have all my games and installers on my drive and can play them anytime. I can't say the same thing for Steam.


My naive view (I know next to nothing about legal matters) would be that "buy" meant a verbal contract that I exchange money to receive the movie as an asset. Obviously that's not how Amazon interprets it, but I wonder if the courts should interpret it that way: if you say buy, and pay a greater cost to buy it, they you should have it as an asset. Of course, what does having it as an asset mean now? I personally think movies from Amazon should be downloadable, but then how do they prevent piracy.


To be completely transparent, even in physical stores, when you buy a DVD, it should clearly state "buy the disc, licence some limited rights to the film on it - only for $x.xx".


Isn’t the key difference here the company’s ability to revoke your ability to watch/listen/play? They can’t do that to a DVD.


“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” - Heinlein

Corporations clearly are taking this lesson to heart. It's only fair that we do too. If you buy content, make sure you have an unencumbered digital copy of it.


I know this is red meat for the anti-Amazon crowd, but this isn't and shouldn't be a surprise.

This is what happens with pretty much any digital good you buy. It's what happens with Kindle books. I remember having this very same conversation and debate on the Magic: The Gathering forums 18 years ago when Magic: The Gathering Online came out.

If you're buying a digital good and don't get a copy that you can download onto your drive and interact offline, go ahead and assume you rented it. Should be that way? I would argue no. But it's the world we live in.

No one refunded me the $2,000 I spent on Marvel Heroes when Gazillion abruptly shut the game down. I 'bought' all those digital goods, so why can't I play the game offline? Because I really just purchased a limited license (i.e. rented) to in-game items.


"But it's the world we live in" if we do nothing.


My grandfather died. Now I have to keep a dedicated device to read his Kindle books (and there are a lot of them). The books can’t be transferred.


Amazon is, of course, right, unfortunately. Licenses is pretty much all anyone sells in media, and many of those are quite restrictive


The courts will decide whether Amazon is right. One totally reasonable outcome might be that Amazon and other vendors will not be allowed to use the word "Purchase" for content that you do not own outright in perpetuity with rights similar to those of a book purchaser.


I really want an EU directive to define what is a "Sale" and what is a "License" or "Rent" and make it impossible to use the word "Purchase" when it is licensed to you, only to be used when you truly own the product.


I mean I agree with that this would be nice but I don't think this change would actually benefit ... well anyone because you can't buy really copyrighted works. The law turns any work on physical media into a single restricted-use indefinite transferable "license." It's not the word change would spawn a digital market where you could actually buy.


I think this is the key point. They want to have their cake and eat it. Either sell me things or stop using everyday words that imply you are.


Even a book purchaser only gets a "limited license" on the book's contents. The property rights only extend to the physical item, not what's printed in it.

That's the whole issue with online consumption. The physical medium has disappeared and so only the license remains. The legal framework has not caught up yet.

Amazon T&Cs' wording is wishy-washy ("on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time") and that wording may cause them problems especially where consumers protection is extensive. My limited knowledge on contract law is that this sort of unspecified duration may not be permitted because the parties (especially the consumer) cannot know what he is signing up to when entering into the contract.


When buying a book, the only right that you don't get is the right to copy all or part of the book. Otherwise, you can keep it forever, sell it, lend it to others, sell it overseas (subject to any import/export laws, of course).

This is not the same with a CD for a video-game, for example. I still remember that my copy of Starcraft had a note that I should notify Blizzard if I indended to lend the CD to any of my friends!


It is the same for video games, at least in most countries. Publishers liked to argue that you bought a licence but that isn't how consumer laws worked. In fact EULAs aren't even legally binding in the EU.

This has been one of those instances where if enough organisations tell enough consumers something is true and for long enough then people start to believe it, even when it technically isn't true.


The biggest problem with copyright and digital products is that there is no way to use a digital product without copying it - you copy the program from some medium to your harddrive, and then copy parts of it from your harddrive to your RAM and so on.

Now, each of these could be considered to fall under fair use, but they are definitely complicating the legal case to a great extent.

Also, given that Windows is sold with a limited number of installations (license activations) allowed, even in the EU, I'm not sure that the copyright case is as simple as you claim.


I didn't claim it was simple. I only claimed that EU law does allow you to lend a game. However the points you're raising now are different issues.

I cover some of those points in a more detailed post here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24929034

As for your point about copying to RAM, you have to bare in mind that the law talks about intent and human impact rather rather than scientific specifics (be that physics, computer science, etc). This is a trap many techies make on here (since we're trained to think technically) and a point I've touched on before with regards to comments some made about youtube-dl. With regards to your specific point: if your playback software copies the file into RAM then that is considered playback (because that is the intent) not copying. The fact the playback requires copying is irreverent so long as the playback isn't used with the intent to copy. However the fact that RAM is volatile reinforces that intent (otherwise we'd have an issue with almost all tech, old and new. eg LCD panels buffer image data to be displayed).

> Also, given that Windows is sold with a limited number of installations (license activations) allowed, even in the EU, I'm not sure that the copyright case is as simple as you claim.

That's a little different there because the license activations grant additional permissions rather than adding limitations (generally speaking, of course). eg if you're licensed to install on two machines then that's more copies than copyright law normally allows. It's a bit like how GPL et al grant additional privileges that normally wouldn't be allowed under the default copyright laws. The thing to remember is that companies can grant you additional rights but they can't remove any rights you already have. So a company can say "this license allows you to install on 3 computers" but they can't say "this license doesn't allow you to install on any yellow computers".


No, you still obtain the right to copy all or part of that book. The only right you do not have is to distribute your copies. But, as you say, you may distribute your original (bought) copy as you see fit.


It is more complicated than that. In general, there is no explicit right to copy that book, though an archival copy would certainly fall under fair use. But it would not be fair use if you buy a book, copy it, and then sell the original book while retaining the copy (obviously, the chance of being prosecuted for something like this are essentially 0, but it is certainly copyright infringement if someone were to actually care - e.g. if you were to setup a site for wide distribution in this manner, where members would pass around and "copy for personal use" a book that was only purchased once).


Yes, of course. Major omission on my part. I don't know how it's actually implemented by law, but I believe you lose the right to have the copies when you transfer your original to someone else. I believe this doesn't happen if the original is destroyed, but I really don't know how the law works in that respect.


The big difference is that the CD for a video-game is just a transport medium to allow you to copy its contents on your computer.

Sure you own the CD and can actually lend it but the person you lent it to has no right to effectively use that CD since only you were granted the right (license) to copy it on a limited number (which can be 1) of your own computers.

Same if you buy a copy of MS Word. You do own the CD but you only get the license to install it on a couple of computers.

Any term that purports to prevent you from lending your property has no value. The key point is that the license prevents others from installing the software/video game.


You are more or less right, even in the EU. I think the only part where you are clearly wrong is here:

> Sure you own the CD and can actually lend it but the person you lent it to has no right to effectively use that CD since only you were granted the right (license) to copy it on a limited number (which can be 1) of your own computers.

The second-hand gaming market is obvious proof that you are it is indeed legal for multiple people to copy the game to their own computers from the same CD. The only limitation is the same one that applies to books: copying a book that you own for personal purposes falls under fair use, but selling/lending the book without also passing on / destroying the copy invalidates the fair use exception.


I commented about lending, which is not the same as selling on and what you describe, so I don't really understand how my comment is wrong.


The same rule would apply for lending: as long as, at the time of lending, you do not retain any copy of the work; and, at the time of returning the work, the borrower also does not retain any copy, there is no copyright infringement.

This can also be seen from the existence of game rental services, and there are even libraries that lend video games.


When you torrent a movie you own it, physically, for as long as you want. It's ironic that the only way to own something is to steal it first.


What happens if I torrent a movie and buy a license on Prime? Is the torrent still illegal?


To be clear - I don’t understand downloading a torrent to be illegal at all. Just uploading to others. So depends on how you set up your BT client. ;)


> What happens if I torrent a movie and buy a license on Prime? Is the torrent still illegal?

Not legal in any country of the world I can think of.


They are correct, imagine if you had a subscription to prime and then copied / made all of that available on your own ad-supported service for free. So Amazon has to put a license on the content.

Whether the license is fair or not is up to the consumer to decide. The Buy vs Rent labelling is misleading - but as always, buyer beware.


Surely that's a different issue though? I can't buy a bunch of blurays of movies and Game of Thrones from a store, rip them and put them on my own ad-supported free service without getting in trouble. But the store doesn't have to stop me taking the bluray home just in case I do that.


It’s a licensing issue- you could do that if HBO granted you a license to do that. They don’t when you “buy” GoT online. I’m sure if you offered them a few hundred million dollars they’d let you.


Imagine this for DVDs.

A lawyer representing the now-defunct Virgin Megastores is obliged by Warner Bros to contact you and insist you download a firmware update for your DVD player to disable playback of the Lord of the Rings disc you purchased 5 years ago.


You don't own the content on DVDs either


Thats ridiculous. Says who? Do you have any sources that say you don’t own dvd content indefinitely?


>When consumers buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc, they are not purchasing the motion picture itself, rather they are purchasing access to the motion picture which affords only the right to access the work according to the format’s particular specifications (i.e., through the use of a DVD player), or the Blu-ray Disc format specifications (i.e., through the use of a Blu-ray format player).

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150422/23110430764/dvd-m...


Yes, I wrote about this not too long ago: https://goel.io/drm-ownership

The issue is that they are selling you something to "buy", when really you are renting. They are lying and deceiving.

No one's going to hold them accountable.


Came here to say this. If it's subject to DRM, you don't really own it. It's a limited license.

That said, as someone that has purchased a number of many-view licenses (clicked "buy") I feel that this distinction has always been clear. I didn't expect the money I spent to view something streamed from a server to afford the same kind of usage as a book that I bought in hard-copy 20 years ago. You're either renting for a [period of time] or purchasing unlimited views. I guess my cynicism in this regard paid off.

Changing options language to "Rent" vs. "Buy Unlimited Views" might make that more clear.


If it's not subject to DRM, that doesn't mean you own it either. Even if Amazon just downloaded an unencrypted mp4, legally you would be guilty of felony copyright infringement under 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b) if you were to sell it to someone else.


> “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.”

At least with iTunes, you can keep a copy in cold storage. Although Amazon lets you download content, I believe you can’t store it long term without constantly being connected to the internet.


iTunes has the same problem - even though the contracts they have with the rights holders might be valid for 1000 years (or indefinite), that contract breaking would mean the consumer would lose access to their "bought" movies in their iTunes library, at least legally.


Has anyone really been confused by this?

Unless it's free of DRM and easily copied, backed up, moved, etc, you don't own it, regardless of whatever language the vendor wraps it in.

That doesn't stop me from occasionally "buying" movies or TV from Apple (for example) -- for reasons of convenience, say -- but I don't go into it blindly, and neither should anyone else.


>Unless it's free of DRM and easily copied, backed up, moved, etc,

Even in most of these cases you don't legally own it, either. Even when you buy a DVD, you are just buying a license to use that DVD to consume the content on it. You don't own the content, and it's a violation of that license to copy a movie off of a DVD and onto your hard drive, for example, even if it doesn't have DRM. It's just that the legal content owner typically doesn't come after that type of violation.


So there's two places ownership gets fuzzy.

There's the DRM case, where it's represented as a purchase but only persists as long as the seller allows it to (e.g., movies or TV digitally "purchased" from almost any vendor -- Apple, Amazon, etc).

Then there's the DVD case, where they insist it's a license, but the buyer has physical control of the media and access to tech that ensures they can continue to enjoy it in perpetuity, even if the seller tries to revoke the license.


Not for HN, but the less technology literate individuals certainly doesn't think about this.


I hate this bit of modern life. CDs and DVDs were so simple, even the original ipods give you more control


Perhaps someone should write a tool called "Amazon-dl".


too soon


Even DVDs had their attempt at region coding, which was a pain in the ass for a while (limited "region changes" for most players). The legalities behind it eventually got overturned but it was a pain for a while.


This isn't news, digital media has ALWAYS been like this...

...BUT it should be illegal for a digital content provider to revoke purchased licenses without compensation, regardless of ToS.

The same way credit cards aren't allowed to set their own terms arbitrarily [1], neither should vendors of digital media.

If a company decides to remove individual purchased titles, they should be forced by law to refund the purchase price to everyone involved. We need legislation for this. End of story.

(If a company goes bankrupt or decides to end a service entirely it's a bit more complicated... but perhaps part of bankruptcy proceedings should be to give priority to pay a competing service a reasonable "maintenance fee" to provide continued digital access to the same titles wherever possible.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_CARD_Act_of_2009


Pretty much people. This is why I never got down with the Apple Music bullshit. Nor Spotify. If I buy an album I want those damn audio files in my computer.

All these businesses will continue to raise their membership fees and you still will own bupkis.


I noticed in the past couple of weeks that the verbiage on my fire stick changed from "you own this video" to "you purchased this video". I knew that meant something like this... and sure enough.


Not to be shallow, but this runs counter to Amazon's purported customer obsession - no? I say this as someone recently "tricked" into buying some movies through Prime. The layman in me thought, surely the distinction between "Rent" and "Buy" on this screen means I own the content. While the software engineer in me thought: what would happen if Prime or Amazon disappeared; how would I keep my purchase?

Guess I have the answer to my question now. I don't.

Will most likely purchase physical media for things that are important enough to me now.


Their consumer obsession is to convince more people to use their platform to buy more products. Letting people free themselves from the platform runs counter to that goal.

It's not even just that, they have licensing to worry about. Do any content providers even allow a cross platform license, if the Amazon/Google/ect even wanted to do this? The content creators have always wanted to charge by the view, they never wanted it to make it easy to "own" the content.


This case might address the question of how enforceable EULAs are. I wonder if someone more knowledgeable might chime in, but AFAIK this hasn't really been settled by courts. To quote the article:

--------------

Amazon argues it doesn't matter whether Caudel actually bothered to read the fine print.

"An individual does not need to read an agreement in order to be bound by it," writes Biderman. "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."


I'd like to see digital ownership in the form of non-fungible tokens on Ethereum. That way, you can easily re-sell your ownership on decentralized exchanges. That's true digital ownership.


This is exactly why I've stopped buying movies. The argument is that if you want to watch it again then you'll have to rent it again, and after a couple times you would have saved money by buying it. That's not true if there's a decent chance buying it still wouldn't let you watch it again in a couple years.

I've just accepted that I'll only be able to watch things once and that's fine, I have much better things to do with my life than watch movies (like starting arguments on HN.)


I only buy movies through iTunes because they let you download an actual (DRM'd) video file, which can then be de-DRM'd. Unfortunately, recent versions of iTunes have broken all DRM removal software. I have a virtual machine with an old copy of iTunes for any new movie purchases, but if that ever stops working I won't be buying any more movies either.


It should be illegal to use "own" in an online service if that is not true- if you can't download the content and keep it.


It's such a mistake to use unintuitive terms with customers when your business model depends on a long-term relationship with your customers.

You end up tricking them in the short term, but they learn to avoid relying on you in the future.

If they can't actually sell you a copy of something they should stop presenting a "buy" button and stick with "rent".


Probably the only reason why Amazon is able to charge the prices that it does is _because_ of the fact that you are not purchasing the product itself. Amazon needs to make this much clearer though, and provide an option for you to buy media content outright at a higher price. The "buy" verbiage is straight up misleading.


Because so many people would want to buy a random forgotten movie from the 90s that the prices can't be lower, than £3.99. Nonsense. It's already outrageously high if it's not an owning-type buy.


Has this not always been the case with pretty much all digital media purchases? Books, music, films, tv etc. It’s always a license you’re buying. Not saying this is good or bad, but at this point I think we’ve been over this many many times and it should not be a surprise to anybody who has been remotely paying attention.


Don’t limit your ire to Amazon here. I purchased The Replacements “Pleased to Meet Me” from iTunes. Now the first track on the album is “not available in your region”. I’m an album listener, not a song listener, and now that record is useless to me. Bonus the Music App auto-deleted it for me.


If I want to buy a movie I still buy it on disc (4k Blu-ray) if possible). Many newer movies come with a Movies Anywhere code so it also gets added to all my devices.

It's the best of both worlds, best possible picture and sound for the big tv and I can I watch it on my phone if I want.


Is this the logical consequence of the web, that everything is reduced to just "content?" Whether it's a tweet or a movie that cost $100M to produce, it's just stuff that takes up space in a box on your screen.


It's unfortunate that Amazon licenses rather than sells this digital property, because if they sold it, they could claim that it's exempt from the 30% in-app purchase fees that app stores charge.


I once read that the test of whether or not you own something is, "can you sell it?" By this test, one does not own purchased Amazon Prime video content.


I spend on average 20k+ a year on media from the Apple iTunes Store, that number is dwarfed when I’m gaming.

Guess I’ll just start scraping the media for free via tunnels and VPNs.


>20k+ a year

How??


Wow. They say it right there on the screen "Rent $(x) or Buy $(y)". Now they say, they were just kidding? Give me a break.


Worth reminding that those ebooks you "bought" were likely "licenses" and not bought. Read the small print.


I argue "illegally" downloading a drm free copy of media I purchased isn't theft.


Even if you buy a DVD, you are still licensing the content. All that you own is the physical DVD.


I've a rant unrelated to the story! Amazon is different in that way. I'm already paying for the subscription and some movies are available only to rent or purchase. Very different from Netflix. The user interface is pathetic. It pissed me off the most when I get advertisement even after paying for their subscription.


Prime's main course is a fast-ship shop subscription, which comes with a side order of digital media, unlike pure-play Netflix.


Apple TV is similar - it has a mix of free and pay extra if you have their subscription, its even more mixed up imho.


The final stage of capitalism is rent seeking. you don't own the stuff you buy. you must pay subscription fees to rent the stuff thus generating never ending profits for the capitalists.


Clickbait headline. This is how it works with nearly all content you “buy” (music, movies, software, ...) You’re not buying the thing, rather you buying a license to use something. That license has terms. This is nothing new and nothing specific to Amazon.


> In fact, all of the Prime Video content that Plaintiff has ever purchased remains available.

It's interesting how much this admission from Amazon says about the particular user. A few members of my family - and several friends - have all purchased Prime Video content that later became censored, subject to PR-fueled cancellations, or simply later had access restricted due to changing avails.

We have laws against revealing medical information about individuals, but to me it seems just as likely that content viewing history is also a strongly private thing which ought to be protected, too. Is there anything protecting people against this kind of stuff being revealed when a lawsuit is being litigated?


Clickbait headline. This is how it works with nearly all content you “buy” (music, movies, software, ...) You’re not buying the thing, rather you buying a license to use something. That license has terms. This is nothing new and nothing specific to Amazon.

Go watch that text that flashed up on your old VHS tapes. You didn’t own it, you merely had a license to use it in a certain way. Invite too many people over to your house to watch a movie, you broke the license as now you’re staging a “public showing” and you don’t have a license for that. Schools used to get in trouble for this sort of thing when some kid brings in a home VHS tape and plays it at “school movie night.”


>Clickbait headline. This is how it works with nearly all content you “buy”

Yeah...that's the entire point of the discussion being held.

When did it become a thing to call everything "clickbait"? The headline is literally a description of their argument, which is the point being discussed. Do you know what "clickbait" is?

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clickbait

How does this qualify?


When I bought a DVD from Walmart, Walmart didn't come to my house and claw the DVD back.


The ability to broadly revoke these rights without any cause is different here, though. I don't think you can equate the two in the same way for this reason. You needed to take action against an individual before for a reason in order to prevent them from using the thing they purchased. In the streaming / heavy DRM case, no cause is required and no recourse is provided to the individual. You're just out of luck.




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