by Leigh Beadon

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history, look back

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the writin'-words dept

This week, both of our top comments on the insightful side come from our post about Apple deleting purchased movies from people's devices after losing the rights. In first place, it's Gwiz responding to the idea that people should known they are only licensing digital content, not buying it:

Then why does the button say "Buy" and not "Rent"?

As far as I'm concerned, when the terms of sale indicate that I am "purchasing" a digital copy, then that is exactly what I am doing. I will take "my copy" and do with it as I please, which includes removing any DRM and making backup copies.

This is exactly what I do periodically with my Kindle and the wife's Kindle. I save un-DRMed copies of everything to my laptop with Calibre.

In second place, it's Thad responding to the assertion that copyright law is more to blame than Apple:

But Apple implemented a system that allows purchases to become unavailable when the work is no longer for sale. That is on Apple.

There are other digital distributors that do not operate under those same terms.

To pick one example: Rifftrax no longer sells the two 1960s Doctor Who movies that used to be available on the site; it lost the rights to them. However, if you purchased them when they were available, then you can still stream or download them.

To pick another example: The Square Enix game Last Remnant was recently removed from Steam; it's no longer for sale. But if you bought it when it was for sale, you can still download and play it. If you bought a Steam code from a third-party seller, you can still redeem that code.

Rifftrax is located in the US. Valve is located in the US. Both companies are subject to exactly the same copyright laws that Apple is. And yet, they don't take away their customers' purchases when those items are removed from their stores.

There's plenty to criticize about US copyright law.

But this? This is Apple's fault. Not solely Apple's fault, but Apple's certainly not blameless.

For editor's choice on the insightful side, we'll carry on the trend with two more comments from that post. First, it's Bergman with another rejection of the "it's just a license" idea:

If it was a rental, the price shouldn't be the same as a purchase. If it was a purchase, then Apple owes a refund since they charged for a purchase, not a rental.

And what if the customer(s) just licensed their money to Apple?

Next, it's Get off my cyber-lawn! painting an even broader picture of the ridiculousness of how digital goods often work:

I went onto a large, popular e-book website last month and looked up a book I wanted to purchase (still popular, still in print). I got an "out of stock" response for a freaking E-BOOK!

Its bad enough that you want to charge me as much OR MORE money than for a print copy, but then you tell me you are fresh out of 1s and 0s for that particular item?

And THAT is what contributes to a "pirate" culture.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is TheResidentSkeptic with an attempt to sort out government demands of social media companies:

At least the rules are getting clearer...

1) If you block posting of any user content, we will fine you.
2) if you fail to remove objectionable content within 1 hour we will fine you.
3) if you remove or otherwise censor any content, we will fine you.
4) If you don't block objectionable content from being posted, we will fine you.

or, to put it simply, "Send us all your money"

In second place, it's That One Guy expanding on the proposal that the SDCC's trademark war over the term "Con" could present some promotional opportunities:

Several opportunities in fact, given SDCC convinced a judge that shortening 'convention' to 'con' belongs only to them. Really, legal thuggery paired with trying to monopolize a word with multiple connotations, one of them not so pleasant? The jokes practically write themselves.

'When you think 'con', think SDCC.'

'SDCC: For when you want a first-class con.'

'Why settle for a lesser con where they might not know what they're doing when you can let the SDCC show you how a con-job really works.'

For editor's choice on the funny side, we start out with Stephen T. Stone, who has a question about Valve's latest foggy explanation of who it will ban from Steam:

Defining what separates a good faith effort to sell a game from a "troll" involves a "deep assessment" of the developer, Valve says, including a look at "what they've done in the past, their behavior on Steam as a developer, as a customer, their banking information, developers they associate with, and more."

So when do they ban games published by EA?

And last but not least, we've got an anonymous commenter catching another commenter out on an amusing typo about, er, rampant piracy:

Wonton piracy is only practical if you can get the goods fresh. Nobody wants stale wontons.

That's all for this week, folks!

Reader Comments

The First Word

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2018 @ 3:17pm

    Apple will refund customers and try to drop any case like a hot potato if they're sued.

    Seen it, been there, bought the t-shirt. They've "bought off" people whose houses were set ablaze by faulty macs, iphones, chargers etc.

    They've offered HUGE settlements to people who were assaulted by Apple employees etc etc.

    All to keep everything quiet so it doesn't hurt the share price.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 17 Sep 2018 @ 2:07am


      Well, it's a matter of scale. Every device going up in flames is a single exception to the rule affecting random customers, while every rental song going up in flames is a whole number of specific customers affected. Refunding rather than having a court case turns this into drop-in-an-ocean territory again. If they get into a court action about misleading business practices and have to start calling a rental a rental, this will significantly impact all of their global operations.

      So they'll try to make this go away with money as long as they can, in particular since this gives other players time to copy their moves and they have a better chance when a court case comes to fruition finally to claim they are just indulging in industry-wide common practices, nobody expects otherwise, and it's the laws rather than the criminals that need to adapt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 16 Sep 2018 @ 8:51pm

    I'll offer a quick note on my comment: I referred to US copyright law, but on further investigation it appears that the Apple customer whose purchase was removed from his account is in Australia.

    I can't speak for certain to Steam operates in Australia, or whether Rifftrax is available in Australia at all. If anyone can offer any clarification, please feel free to share.

    Regardless, my main point stands: it is possible for a vendor to allow a customer to continue to access a purchase after it's removed from the store, and there are sites that do exactly that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 5:40am


      Yep. Over on consoles, when a licensing agreement for a videogame is about to expire (it happens a lot with Activision and Hasbro or Marvel properties), you can usually tell, since it goes on sale on the XBox store, and it's often a good time to pick it up at a decent price since it's your last chance to do so. Once it expires, while it can no longer be sold, anyone who has it in their purchase history can redownload it for so long into the future as the XBox service continues to exist and XBox backward compatibility continues to support emulation of the device it was for. It's just not visible to purchase on the storefront any longer as they no longer have a right to sell further copies of it.

      It is most definitely possible to still guarantee access to previously purchased copies while no longer making new purchases available. Indeed, one could argue that's *already the industry standard*, and that those not doing so need to be made to catch up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 17 Sep 2018 @ 10:35am

      Missing a word.

      That should, of course, have said "I can't speak for certain to how Steam operates in Australia."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Sep 2018 @ 6:01pm

        Re: Missing a word.

        If you live in the southern coastal parts of Australia, you light a fire and boil some water. In the northern coastal parts, you put some water in a container and put it in the sun for about 30 seconds. That will get you some steam. :)

        If you live in central Australia, there is no way to make steam anymore because all the water has gone, so all the trains are pulled by camels :(

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    viperworld, 17 Sep 2018 @ 12:44am

    Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

    I'll offer a quick note on my comment: I referred to US copyright law, but on further investigation it appears that the Apple customer whose purchase was removed from his account is in Australia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 17 Sep 2018 @ 4:14pm

    Rule of Law my Arse

    Qualified Immunity Contradicts Congressional Intent. It's Time To Kill It Off.

    The courts quietly put Section 1983 to sleep through benign-neglect and legislated the bastard child known as Qualified/Absolute immunity from the bench without public debate thus circumventing both congress and executive.

    42 U.S. Code § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

    Qualified/Absolute immunity are defective legal theories derived via judicial fiat that empower the US government and it's agents at the expense of all persons seeking redress/remedy through the courts for government malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance .

    Qualified/Absolute immunity doctrine is rule of man (ie tyranny).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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