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Amazon Says You Don't Actually Own Purchased Prime Videos

Digital Rights Management is confusing and messy, and you should never assume that you own your digital purchases.


In 2020, most of us buy more digital content than physical, whether it's music, games, movies, or even TV. Despite how much is available on streaming subscriptions, lots of very new and very old content requires an individual purchase. When you buy a Blu-ray, you can come home and put it on your shelf or hide it under your mattress. What about those digital purchases? Amazon says you don't actually own that thing you just bought from them, according to a motion filed in a California lawsuit.

California resident Amada Caudel sued Amazon in April, claiming that the company "secretly reserves the right" to revoke access to purchased content on Prime Video. Amazon filed a motion this week to dismiss Caudel's claim.

First, the company discredited Caudel herself, stating that she not only hasn't lost access to any content purchased through the application, but that she's purchased 13 additional titles since filing the suit.

"The Complaint points vaguely to online commentary about this alleged potential harm but does not identify any Prime Video purchase unavailable to Plaintiff herself. In fact, all of the Prime Video content that Plaintiff has ever purchased remains available," the motion says.

More importantly, though, Amazon says that this is covered in the text you have to agree to every time you purchase a video through the service.

Amazon Prime Video's Terms of Use are "presented to consumers every time they buy digital content on Amazon Prime Video," the motion says. "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."

Amazon's motion notes that "an individual does not need to read an agreement in order to be bound by it. A merchant terms of service agreement in an online consumer transaction is valid and enforceable when the consumer had reasonable notice of the terms of service."

If you dive into the Terms of Use on any digital content marketplace, you'll find similar language; purchasing digital content is a buyer-beware situation across the board no matter whose marketplace you're using. This can even apply to physical media; copy-protection organizations claim that you're purchasing access to the content--you just control the physical access in that case. You don't even own your physical electronics, according to companies like General Motors and AT&T, which has spawned the entire Right to Repair Movement.

Nevertheless, If you want to ensure that your purchases can't be revoked, a physical purchase is still the best way to go. Now you just have to make sure you don't lose that disc.

Image credit: Getty Images/Smith Collection/Gado

Eric Frederiksen on Google+

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