If you think you actually own movies that you've purchased on iTunes, think again. The age of physical media is dying a slow, painful death, but the convenience offered by digital is simply far too great to be ignored by consumers. However, there are drawbacks to going digital. For one, as Twitter user Drandersgs recently discovered, Apple can delete movies that you own without warning.
Drandersgs recently posted about an unfortunate occurrence he experienced, whereby, Apple randomly deleted three movies he owned. After contacting customer support to figure out why this had happened, the answer he received was downright frustrating. Here's what Apple support had to say in response.
"I see that you are unable to locate some of your purchased movies. After reviewing this case, I have noticed that the content provider has removed these movies from the Canadian Store. Hence, these movies are not available in the Canadian iTunes Store at this time. However, Apple is constantly working with content providers to expand the iTunes Store catalog and to make more items available in more countries."
Basically, companies allow their content to be made available on the iTunes Store. If you purchase a movie through the store that a company decides to no longer feature on iTunes, that movie will disappear from your library. For his troubles, Drandersgs was offered two free movie rentals, but that didn't sit well with him. Understandably so. In another response after some more back and forth, Apple offered another frustrating bit of clarification.
"Please be informed that the iTunes/App Store is a store front that gives content provider(s) a platform or place to sell their items. We can only offer what has been made available to us via the studios or distributor. Since the content provider has removed these movies from the Canadian Store, I am unable to provide you the copy of the movies."
Essentially, even though the user is purchasing these movies, they're really leasing them for as long as Apple can keep the content on their platform. As frustrating as this may seem, it's actually outlined in the long terms of service agreement that nobody ever reads. Per Apple's terms of service...
"You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content ('Redownload') to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID ('Associated Devices'). Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services."
There has perhaps never been a more clear argument for the existence of physical media in the modern age. Plus, most Blu-ray/DVD purchases come with a digital copy these days anyway. Why not have the physical copy as insurance, if nothing else? This may not be enough to sway users from purchasing movies on iTunes entirely, but it's something to be aware of. And maybe, just maybe, reading those terms of service agreements could be worth your time in the future. You can check out the full exchange from @drandersgs' Twitter account for yourself below.
Me: Hey Apple, three movies I bought disappeared from my iTunes library.— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 10, 2018
Apple: Oh yes, those are not available anymore. Thank you for buying them. Here are two movie rentals on us!
Me: Wait... WHAT?? @tim_cook when did this become acceptable? pic.twitter.com/dHJ0wMSQH9
Part 2:— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 11, 2018
Me: I am not really interested in the rentals. I want my movies back or my money back.
Apple: I totally get how you feel...
Me: Condescending, but go one...
Apple: You see, we are just a store front.
Me: Store front?