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.

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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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Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

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Edited By Smosh150

Shocker. Never would have guessed digital content that required the platform isn't something I own. Really, this was obvious even if someone doesn't read the Terms of Use.

Too many fools out there.

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Avatar image for runzwithscissor
runzwithscissor

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Oh, and JUST SAY NO to Amazon in the first place.

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Avatar image for runzwithscissor
runzwithscissor

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NOW... absorb what is learned from this, and apply it to video games.

THIS is EXACTLY the reason why I am so vocal about this subject. About only buying a physical copy of the game - not the digital copy. About day one patches. About connectivety.

The more you buy digital copies, the quicker the industry moves in this direction, and you will start to see an end to physical copies.

Forget bringing your playstation to the cottage to play, because unless you have high speed internet in the middle of nowhere, you aren't playing. Because you bought a game (Oh, I don't know, COD WWII) that will not install unless you download the manditory 10GB "security feature".

People - I bitch for a reason. Pay attention to the digital content you are RENTING! Buy only physical copies. And DO NOT buy physical copies if they will not work on their own, and require a 10 GB security patch

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YourFaceIsDrunk

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@runzwithscissor: Physical copies won't help you if you have to download that 10 GB patch. I mostly buy physical copies because I want the physical copy of the few games I play and there is always a download. It's bullshit.

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tlpina

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I have everything in Physical Media. The image is better (And not by a little, but a whole lot).

Digital copy registered with Vudu is just a bonus. A Nice to have when I;m on the go.

Buying digital content is dumb. If a studio, say Universal, decides to move everything to HBO Max. That streaming license is gone and so is your ability to watch movies on that platform.

It's unlikely, but old news.

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lonewolf1044

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I did not know that until now and going forward I will not buy any Prime videos and get what them on discs if I am able. I cannot put money into something and they can revoke my right to purchased goods.

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holenjd

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This is true as unfortunate as it is. This is why I still buy physical media when it comes to consoles and movies (plus if you have ever looked at a 4K stream and UHD Blu-ray side by side, you can see the reason).

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WarGreymon77

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You're buying a rental.

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Rolento25

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Yarrr me maties.

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lionheartssj1

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"purchased content may become unavailable due to provider license restriction or other reasons."

Our tech overlords have shown those 'other reasons' can be anything and arbitrarily enforced.

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tingtong

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There’s only a couple kinds of people who would purchase digital anything…those with enough disposable income to not give a dam what ultimately happens to it (also boring, no appreciation for art, etc). Suckers. And those who have to travel like, daily (again, enough disposable income). And I guess there might be a few unique cases - like if you live in a closet; or even worst, have to share that closet with thieves.

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willow69

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That is the exact reason I never buy digital copies of anything.......

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dragonsama

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And this is why I always buy Psychical versions whenever it is possible. Games movies, TV shows, even music.

An all Digital future is anti-consumer and I hope that there is always a physical option.

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lonewolf1044

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@dragonsama: You know I am starting to believe Digital serves the companies but not the customer as they can pull back digital purchases. and I agree with you.

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Tidus1012

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'In 2020, most of us buy more digital content than physical', no, we don't. At least in gaming. The physical buyers are about 65% vs 35% digital.

Please don't overestimate the 'digital era'.

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Tartanross

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@Tidus1012: no it's not in 2018 digital was 83% physical was 17% even more now

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brightamethyst

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@Tidus1012 said:

At least in gaming. The physical buyers are about 65% vs 35% digital.

Of the games that are available physically, sure. More and more games are going digital only though, and 0% of those sales are physical.

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lonewolf1044

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@brightamethyst: Movies that are brought physically are safe as there is no installing. But games brought physically are not necessarily safe as most games on an disc require you to connect to an company site to finishing installing. One company that I like to get what games I like is from GOG as they allow you to DL the installer which cuts any further cord to them unless you want an patch.

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SkyHighGam3r

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Yarrrr
This be why.
This be why...

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Chubby170

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This is a great example of why Physical Media is required. Besides, they look and sound better anyway.

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Ives74

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She's suing them because she agreed to license terms she didn't like, is that it? Oh, I see. She's dumb. I will say I've started collecting physical media again because of the potential loss of my library for whatever reason. But suing? She's spoiled and is throwing a tantrum.

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jenovaschilld

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Folks this is like any other subscription based service, from fruit of the month to gym services. You pay for country club access to a private golf instructors. But if you do not pay the admission fees that instructor is not coming to your home. If you paid for box seats at Cleveland, but Lebrone leaves ... you don't get a refund.

But hey, some people's job is suing others.

But on this, when it comes to games. I prefer physical over digital any time I can get it. But I also have purchased a shit load of digital games.

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lonewolf1044

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@jenovaschilld: Do not get to happy if you able to get an physical disc as you still have to connect to an company site to finish the installing. If the company goes belly up one has to pray they release an patch to cut the cord.

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misterginger

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Must be that lady's first time on the internet.

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Cryptics

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Why is everyone acting like this is new? it's the same for games on consoles, and literally any other digital platform like Itunes.

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Blev08

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@Cryptics: It's not, in this case it may be a thing of just because this is the way things are, doesn't mean this is the way things should actually be. Governments have, in general, been terrible at keeping up with technology and tech companies by and large got to set the rules to whatever they wanted to as a result.

In terms of digital movies, they have clauses for losing licenses to the right to sell certain movies. Since when did losing the right to sell movies means this meant that got these companies out of having to continue to provide said movies to people who had already purchased these movies? As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't, but having to maintain and perpetually host content they can no longer sell costs the company money that they don't want to spend so of course they won't want to do that.

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Just1MoHr

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Request from GameSpot writers:


I was just thinking about this today. There are games on the XB1 & PS4 which are pointless to own physically at one point when the servers go down, such as games as service Anthem. Can Gamespot compile a list of games & verify from the devs if any off-line/single player content will be available from games like: Star Wars Battlefield 1-2, Titanfalls 1-2, Destiny 2, Killing Floor 2.....etc.

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Barighm

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@just1mohr: A more interesting list would be how many online only games have ever received updates that made them playable offline for singleplayer and local co-op purposes. There are a lot of games I would play if they had, like Destiny which is a perfectly fun game otherwise.

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purewitz

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@Barighm: No online game that has been shut down has ever gotten an update to be playable offline. If they did, emulator servers wouldn't exist for defunct online games. Such as old MMORPGs and online PVP/Co-Op modes for old shooters that have had their servers shut down.

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Barighm

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Edited By Barighm

@purewitz: Thus my suggestion that a list of any games that have ever received such an update would be more interesting.

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bookfan8780

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@Barighm: I think purewitz is saying no such list would exist. He says no online games have ever received such an update, so the list would be blank.

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uninspiredcup

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Given how huge a company like Amazon is and the extremes requires to lose access, this doesn't bother me.

Having said that, streaming should be cheaper, instead the price is the same or higher, so unless it's free part of Prime, which itself is spotty, hard pass.

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Avatar image for niceguy3978
niceguy3978

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Hasn't this been what every digital platform ever has been saying?

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SbargoVox3

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Which is why non-subscription based streaming, like Stadia, is an absolutely moronic concept to use as a consumer. At least with Steam and other storefronts you download a local copy that could then in the inevitable event of the storefront's demise be activated by 3rd party software.

If it's a monthly fee for access to a library, that's fine. But if I'm specifically buying a copy of a movie, it is mine and absolutely always physical.

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HG10

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Edited By HG10

It's not acceptable for this fact to be hidden in the Terms and Conditions. Especially since it is a potential deal breaker. I've said this before and I'll say it again; it needs to be clearly stated when you are purchasing it.

It shouldn't even say anything like "buy", it should say something like "purchase temporary license".

Then they really CAN say the customer had to have known.

Still a douche move though, and still another reason why physical will never go away completely.

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LazyyAmerican

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@hg10: It's not really temporary unless you do something to warrant losing access. Unless Amazon goes under tomorrow....99.9% of people will continue to freely use digital content they've purchased without issue.

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Lamesy

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@LazyyAmerican: That's actually not what Amazon claims. They say that access can be lost just by renegotiation of deals between Am & content creators/owners.

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draxenz

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@hg10: but physical is going away. We may not like it, but it's already happening regardless.

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Barighm

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@draxenz: Not really. There are ways around it, and I'm not talking pirating.

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Jinzo_111887

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@draxenz: This revelation might ensure it will last longer than you think. Imagine paying for something, then having the merchant you bought it from steal it away from you.

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Paulf001

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That is why buying the physical copies of movies is better cause then you can't lose access to them.

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jimmywolf

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@Paulf001: their never been a movie, show, book, music that i could not get for free anytime. so i never fear when i pay for a convivence of pushing play on a site that i may lose said right to site.

i got 100+ old dvd's i never touch collecting dust, i don't feel i secured my family future to any content vs them watching it else were but if it gives you peace of mind, collect away.

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masscrack

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@jimmywolf: thats illegal.

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Ikzai

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and here I was happy to have a small library of cool digital movies I've bought off amazon. I guess its time to go back to blurays even though I'm sure it has been argued and will continue to be argued that we don't really own those either.

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m4a5

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m4a5 says you actually own videos downloaded off the internet 🦜

But seriously, this BS is why I don't bother dealing with streaming services.

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Barighm

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Well, duh. This is why I always buy disc versions of movies I really like.

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Jinzo_111887

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And this is why I prefer physical media such as DVDs and Blu-rays instead.

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Rotpar

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Of course we serfs don't own anything digital; we rent them at the sufferance of our overlords.

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