Let’s face it, we are in the age of digital media. Companies like Amazon and iTunes have made it so convenient for us to buy movies off their digital marketplace. We no longer need to go to the store to buy a physical DVD or Blu-Ray anymore. We can just buy a movie online and stream it instantly. However, do you actually own the digital movies you buy?
Let’s look at the most popular movie this year. Avengers Endgame is now available to purchase. You have the choice to buy the “digital movie” or a physical DVD/Blu-Ray. In both cases you’re actually buying a personal “license” to watch the movie, the difference is the format.
Yet, as you’ll learn, there’s a big difference between digital movies and the physical movies you’re used to buying.
4 Reasons you don’t really own digital movies you buy on Amazon
1. You can’t access your movie whenever you want
Whenever you want to watch a digital movie, you have two barriers to overcome. First, you need to have internet access on the device you want to watch, or thought ahead and have the movie downloaded to that particular device.
Then you also need to have Amazon’s proprietary software on that device to play the movie. Think app. Once you have those, you just need to pray your movie won’t be interrupted by constant buffering or their servers fail.
2. You can’t sell your movies or let friends borrow them
Ever been to a yard sale? You can usually find some awesome movie titles for sale. For the seller, it’s one of the easy ways to make money and you get an awesome movie to take home. Later, you can make a few dollars back when decided to sell it in the future.
However digital movies are now stopping this practice.
Your digital movie is directly tied to your account. You are not allowed to let friends borrow them or sell your movies once you’re done. Your movie is directly tied to your account. If a friend wants to watch a movie, they have to watch it on your account or buy the movie themselves.
3. Amazon can lose the movie rights or cancel your account at any time, and lose all your movies
Those limitations stated in their agreement include “Amazon will not be liable to you if Purchased Digital Content becomes unavailable for further download or streaming.”. Meaning that Amazon isn’t responsible if the movies you bought suddenly and unexpectantly disappear. Doesn’t it feel like buying a digital movie is more like renting it for a long time until an unknown deadline when Amazon loses the rights? Something that doesn’t happen with an old DVD.
This has actually already happened to people. Consumer Reports found one such individual who purchased the animated film “Puss In Boots” from Amazon for $14.99 later to be told that due to “licensing restrictions, videos can become temporarily unavailable”. A situation where the typical movie lover can feel powerless.
Amazon can also cancel your account at any time with no warning, they’ve done it before. In April 2018 Fortune Magazine found hundreds of Amazon Prime account users had their accounts deactivated by Amazon for no reason.
All of those people’s movies and music which they “bought” were gone. They no longer had access to anything and with no warning. Amazon later said they removed people’s accounts for violating their return policy (returning items is a negative thing now?) and if people were accidentally removed, they were “encouraged” to contact Amazon to clear the matter.
So Amazon removed a bunch of people from their accounts and movies then informed them it was their responsibility to fix it. Ouch.
4. If Amazon goes out of business, you’re screwed
Remember when Myspace was a big deal? Tech companies like Amazon seem so large that they’ll be here forever but the fact is, they won’t. At least not as the same company they are now.
If Amazon does go out of business, everything you ever bought digitally is lost. Movies, Kindle books, the works.
The fact is, everything digital you buy from Amazon, technically remains theirs. When they’re gone, so is everything digital you bought.
Amazon and iTunes make purchasing digital movies incredibly easy, and at times even cheaper than actual Blu-Rays and DVDs. However, by giving up the physicality of a movie you can hold, you lose a certain amount of control of when and how you can watch digital movies.
You can’t sell them, lend them to friends, watch them without internet access (unless pre-downloaded) and you’re constantly at the mercy of Amazon and iTunes hoping they won’t deactivate your account, lose their movie licenses, crash their servers or go out of business.
That may be fine for most people, but it’s important to know digital movies work and how much control you have.
Personally, I always buy physical copies of movies becasue they typically come with a free digital code anyways. It’s the best of both worlds.
Wallet Squirrel is a personal finance blog by best friends Andrew & Adam on how money works, building side-hustles, and the benefits of cleverly investing the profits. Featured on MSN Money, AOL Finance, and more!
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