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Over the past week, a tweet about Apple deleting digital iTunes movies went viral. Here’s why it isn’t necessarily true.
Anders Gonçalves da Silva tweeted on Sept. 10 that three movies he had brought disappeared from his iTunes library. In response, Apple apparently sent him a letter explaining how the films were pulled from his region. The company offered two free movie rentals as compensation.
Essentially, the concern here is that Apple can delete or remove purchased content that a user “owns” if the studio or content creator wants to pull them from the web.
In later tweets, da Silva said that the buy button is “meaningless” and equates purchasing films from iTunes to renting them for an extended period of time.
In fact, that’s not the case, as Apple clarified in a statement to CNET. And as the publication notes, the incident that spawned da Silva’s tweet is a bit more complicated than movies just getting deleted arbitrarily.
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?
— Anders G da Silva (@drandersgs) September 11, 2018
According to CNET’s investigation, da Silva had recently moved from Australia to Canada. That also entails using a whole new iTunes Store region.
But da Silva’s impacted movies are available on both the Australian and Canadian version of the iTunes Store. Which begs the question of why da Silva’s “Australian” movies are seemingly gone, while some of his other Australian purchases remained on his account.
There’s also this Apple support document, which includes a rather vague statement (emphasis ours): “You can redownload your past purchases before you change your country or region, and you might be able to redownload many of them after you make the change.”
Apple, in its statement to CNET, said the following.
“Any movies you’ve already downloaded can be enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless you’ve chosen to do so. If you change your country setting, some movies may not be available to redownload from the movie store if the version you purchased isn’t also available in the new country. If needed, you can change your country setting back to your prior country to redownload those movies.”
CNET theorizes that a couple of things might be at play. For one, movies typically come in different versions that can vary by region. One purchased version may not be available in another country, for example.
Similarly, da Silva could have been mistakenly affected by anti-region hopping protections implemented by Apple and other content providers.
In other words, if he had redownloaded the movies to a device to store them locally, he may have been able to keep the previously purchased versions of those movies.
Da Silva notes that Apple promised to send him a workaround so he can get his Australian movies back. But that workaround may require him to forfeit his iTunes Canada Store subscriptions and store credits.