A recent case that went viral over the Interwebs reminded consumers that they may not really own the digital content they purchase, even if it says “Buy”. The case of Anders da Silva’s disappearing iTunes Movies, however, isn’t as clear-cut as it seemed. Because while this specific case doesn’t exactly change the policies, a lot more factors are apparently in play, particularly the case of switching regions/country where the content you have bought may not or no longer be available in your new place of residence.
According to Apple, it will not delete content you’ve already downloaded on to your device. That would require it to reach into users’ devices to delete files remotely, which would be a whole different privacy issue. The key word here is “downloaded” because when purchased content hasn’t been downloaded yet, things get a bit murky.
There’s always the case of a content provider pulling the plug on some content, but even if that didn’t happen, there’s also the case of some content not being available in all regions supported by iTunes. In da Silva’s case, his original residence was in Australia but moved to Canada recently. But even then, the case may not be closed because the movies he did purchase back down under are actually also available in Canada.
So while the mystery deepens, CNET’s report does bring to light how uncertain the whole enterprise can be. While Apple may not delete what you’ve already downloaded, you may not be able to redownload the same content if the provider has yanked it out of iTunes or if it’s not available in the country you’re in. And while it may be possible to change countries, it isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.