Apple Didn't Delete That Guys iTunes Movies, But What Happened Still Shows The Insanity Of Copyright

from the different-but-still-bad dept

Last week we, like many others, wrote about the story of Anders G da Silva, who had complained on Twitter about how Apple had disappeared three movies he had purchased, and its customer service seemed to do little more than offer him some rental credits. There was lots of discussion about the ridiculousness -- and potential deceptive practices -- of offering a "buy" button if you couldn't actually back up the "purchase" promise.

Some more details are coming out about the situation with da Silva, and some are arguing that everyone got the original story wrong and it was incorrect to blame Apple here. However, looking over the details, what actually happened may be slightly different, but it's still totally messed up. Apple didn't just stop offering the films. What happened was that da Silva moved from Australia to Canada, and apparently then wished to redownload the movies he had purchased. It was that region change that evidently caused the problem. Because copyright holders get ridiculously overprotective of regional licenses, Apple can only offer some content in some regions -- and it warns you that if you move you may not be able to re-download films that you "purchased" in another region (even though it promises you can hang onto anything you've already downloaded).

And, here the situation is slightly more confusing because Apple actually does offer the same three movies -- Cars, Cars 2 and The Grand Budapest Hotel -- in both Australia and Canada, but apparently they may not be the identical "versions" of the film, as they may be slightly altered depending on the region.

And while this may be marginally better than completely removing his "purchased" films, it's still absolutely ridiculous. The CNET article linked above is sympathetic to the idea that Apple has to go to extreme lengths such as these to prevent "region hopping," and says that da Silva is just an "edge case" that "fell into a licensing crack." But, again, that's nonsense. This is digital content that he "purchased" using a "buy" button. It shouldn't matter where he is at some later date. He should still get access to those original files. That's what a purchase means. The fact that this might possibly in some cases mean that (OH MY GOSH!) someone in Canada can access a movie released in Australia when they're actually in Canada, well, uh, that seems like an "edge case" that a movie studio and Apple should deal with, rather than screwing over legitimate purchasers.

But, alas, we're left with yet another example of the insanity driven by excessive copyright, in which copyright holders get so overly focused on the notion of "control" that they feel the need to control absolutely everything -- including making sure that no wayward Canadians might (GASP!) purchase and download a movie meant for Australians. It's this overwhelming, obsessive desire to "control" each and every use that messes with so many people's lives -- including da Silva's -- and makes sure that the public has almost no respect at all for copyright. Give up a little control, and let the edge cases go, and maybe people wouldn't be so quick to condemn copyright for removing their own rights so frequently.

Filed Under: copyright, downloads, drm, itunes, licensing, ownership, regional restrictions
Companies: apple


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Sep 2018 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: region licenses

    "As long as I bring the right power adapter I am."

    Well, depending on the local TV standard, maybe. It's more likely than in the the past but there's a number of issues that mean most people are really not going to bother.

    "We're getting pretty far afield in the analogy now since customs doesn't inspect internet downloads."

    Well, maybe. My point was just that while they may not exactly be beating down your front door, it's certainly possible for your collection to be confiscated either way if you come across the wrong situation when you cross into that new country.

    I actually remember having this happen when I was a teenager. I went on holiday to Cyprus with my family, and at the time there were shelves of pirated videos pretty much everywhere around tourist areas. I picked up a few new blockbusters that hadn't even been released back home at the time, along with a few of the "video nasties" that were either officially banned or not legally available due to the BBFC refusing to certify them. When I got back to the UK, some of the videos were missing from my suitcase. They had taken the new releases, but not the ones I couldn't get to see legally!

    It's not a great analogy for the specific situation I suppose, but it certainly isn't unheard of whether you're dealing with physical or digital items.

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