Amazon Sued For Allegedly Misleading Users About Whether They Own Movies They "Purchased"

Maybe material goods are just ways of filling the emptiness that eats away at our souls, but at least we can have the assurance that we do own the things that we bought. But that isn't necessarily the case for digital movies purchased through Amazon Prime Video.

Because of confusing licensing laws that result in streaming services like Amazon, Netflix, and others having to take films off their platforms, users who "buy" movies on Amazon Prime video never really own those films. Even though the service bills those digital films as "Your Video Purchases," these purchases are really just long-term rentals that can disappear from your library at any time. One California user has taken issue with the lack of transparency over Amazon video purchases, and has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.

A California Amazon subscriber has filed a lawsuit against Amazon for misleading customers on whether they own movies that they "purchase" on Prime Video. The lawsuit alleges that the service doesn't inform users that the company cut off access to the content they've purchased through the platform at its discretion.

It all comes down to the small print. Amazon Prime Video bills any content you "buy" — which is a seemingly more permanent option than the temporary rental — through the service as "Your Video Purchases." But Prime Video's terms of service outlines that all purchases are actually just long-term rentals that can disappear from your library at any time due to licensing restrictions or other changes.

"Purchased Digital Content will generally continue to be available to you for download or streaming from the Service, as applicable, but may become unavailable due to potential content provider licensing restrictions or for other reasons, and Amazon will not be liable to you if Purchased Digital Content becomes unavailable for further download or streaming," the terms of service read.

But this is only clear if you go looking into Prime Video's Terms of Service pages, and is not made apparent when a purchase is made. This, according to the lawyers for the suit's plaintiff, Amanda Caudel, is Amazon's attempt to "deceive, mislead and defraud consumers."

 Per the class action complaint, per TechDirt:

"Reasonable consumers will expect that the use of a "Buy" button and the representation that their Video Content is a "Purchase" means that the consumer has paid for full access to the Video Content and, like any bought product, that access cannot be revoked.

Unfortunately for consumers who chose the "Buy" option, this is deceptive and untrue. Rather, the ugly truth is that Defendant secretly reserves the right to terminate the consumers' access and use of the Video Content at any time, and has done so on numerous occasions, leaving the consumer without the ability to enjoy their already-bought Video Content."

This was an issue that Apple users discovered a few years ago, when digital movie purchases were found to disappear from their libraries because of licensing fees or even because of changes in location — the films licensed to a platform changes depending on the country. So while this is not common knowledge to the average movie watcher, it is public knowledge. Which is why this lawsuit likely won't amount to any changes to Amazon's platform.

The lesson here is: buy physical media.