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Amazon’s Prime Video service offers a ton of hit movies and TV shows for purchase, but if you thought that buying a video was equivalent to owning a copy that could be watched indefinitely, think again.

Back in April, April Caudel sued the retail giant for unfair competition and false advertising, alleging that Amazon could terminate the viewing rights to her purchased content at any time.

Anyone who’s familiar with digital distribution and copyright legalities could have predicted what was coming, but in a motion for dismissal filed this week (via The Hollywood Reporter), Amazon made those concepts abundantly clear, noting that users were merely purchasing a limited license for viewing.

“Plaintiff claims that Defendant Amazon’s Prime Video service, which allows consumers to purchase video content for streaming or download, misleads consumers because sometimes that video content might later become unavailable if a third-party rights’ holder revokes or modifies Amazon’s license,” the original argument reads.

Unfortunately for Caudel, the lawsuit is probably going into the garbage bin because Amazon made two sound points: 1) none of the content that she purchased had actually been removed, and 2) the possibility that she may lose her viewing rights is actually in the fine print.

“…the possibility that certain content might become unavailable is explicitly disclosed as part of terms of use repeatedly and conspicuously presented to consumers who buy content on Amazon Prime Video,” attorneys noted.

But waste of court time and lawyers’ fees aside, the case has been useful in reigniting the debate as to whether the conveniences of digital delivery outweigh physical ownership. While the immediacy of the former is enticing, it’s clear that Blu-rays and DVDs are the way to go for users who’d prefer not to have their collections spontaneously disappear overnight.

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9 Comments

  1. Crap it is easy to forget.. and it just doesn’t make sense.
    I would understand I lose everything IF the service goes under… But for license issues, then its not a purchase is it? Amazon should lose.
  2. There are reasons I stick to physical media for any purchases and back them up digitally on my local server. The only other thing I do is "rent" content via Netflix or Hulu or Prime knowing that I never own any of the content and I will lose access to it when I drop the sub and/or when the content disappears from the service.
  3. I agree that since none of the videos she "bought" had been removed she really doesn’t have any grounds to sue. That said, when you "buy" a movie or TV episode on Amazon Prime, it says right there plain as day that "you own this video/episode/movie"…. I’d be pretty ticked off too if for some reason Amazon wouldn’t let me watch them anymore.
  4. Crap it is easy to forget.. and it just doesn’t make sense.
    I would understand I lose everything IF the service goes under… But for license issues, then its not a purchase is it? Amazon should lose.

    Pretty sure that it is illegal in the EU for Amazon to do that. Don’t know about the US. There are no video game services that revoke your purchases should a game be removed from sale for any reason.

  5. Pretty sure that it is illegal in the EU for Amazon to do that. Don’t know about the US. There are no video game services that revoke your purchases should a game be removed from sale for any reason.

    They don’t remove your access to run the game. They simply remove the back end servers making the game useless.

  6. I can’t name one digital game purchase off the top of my head that I’ve made where this has happened.

    Island of Nyne is the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

    I own plenty of physical media games that are now dead. All the old Medal of Honor games for one.

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