It’s great to be able to access all kinds of content without having to move. Digital formats have revolutionized everything and they have allowed us to enjoy music, books, video games or movies and series how, where and when we want it.

It all seems to be perks in a model that has fueled the streaming boom, but the thing isn’t that great if we’re talking about our online merchandise shopping. The owner of the movie or video game you (probably) purchased is not you. This is the company you buy it from.

No what you buy is not yours

That ebook you bought for your Kindle? Not yours. “The content provider provides you licensed Kindle content, not for sale. I’m not saying it: the terms of use for the Kindle store say so. This type of reality has been controversial in the past, but this is just one of many examples of this circumstance.

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The same thing happens with the movies you buy from Amazon Prime Video: they don’t belong to you. The service was made available to users in late April in Spain or Mexico even more recently, but has been available for some time in the United States.

There, a user realized the trap: she bought a movie and finally discovered that it was not her own. The debate over digital goods has been strongly reactivated with discussions like the one on Reddit, and the user ended up suing Amazon, a process still in progress.

The company specifies in the conditions of use of this platform that what is granted is a license to use the content, but they caution that such content may no longer be available “and Amazon will not be liable to users for any digital content purchased that is no longer available for download or further distribution.”

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Amazon is not alone: ​​almost all companies follow this model

The company he washes his handsBut she is not alone in this kind of philosophy. If you buy a digital good that does not belong to you, you can simply enjoy it in a theoretically unlimited and permanent way.


The problem is that many others follow the same pattern. Steam, the ultimate game distribution platform, also states: “Content and services are allowed and not for sale“They explain in their ‘subscriber agreement’.

More examples: Apple It also uses this legal language in its terms of service to wash your hands and to make it clear that what is granted to you when, for example, you purchase an app or game from its App Store is not that app or this game: »The applications offered via the App Store they are transferred under license and are not sold in your favor.«

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Everything is (more or less) a rental

Most companies have adhered to this type of philosophy: Physical formats effectively make the user the owner of that music CD, paper book, video game or movie that we buy on Blu-ray, but with digital downloads the same doesn’t happen. not produced. not produce. They don’t belong to us.

Netflix2 Many services don’t even offer the option to purchase content. The subscription model offers many advantages, but it also has its disadvantages.

We can only use them for the duration of the service contract, and if the company that provided the digital good disappears for some reason, our license to use this digital asset is also disappearing.

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There are exceptions, for example in the world of video games platforms like GOG or Humble Bundle defend the traditional model, but this is not the norm. The case of GOG, which has terms of service in legal parlance and, to the right, a short summary in the “English” version, something they themselves cite, is particularly striking.

The truth is, except for these small cases, this is the tragic reality of a segment that makes the concept of property disappear and which more and more advocates this subscription model managed by all content streaming services. It will be interesting to see what happens at the request of this Amazon user.

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For these companies, the reality is obvious: owning something is no longer cool: renting it, yes.

Source: Engadget