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Yes, You Can Own the Movies You Buy from Apple, Kinda

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On Wednesday, a man went viral after posting his dispute with Apple over three movies that he’d previously purchased that suddenly disappeared from his iTunes library. Many people took it as an opportunity to remember that ownership is dead and we’re all just renting. It’s also an opportunity to remember that’s not exactly the case.

Ander G da Silva posted his correspondence with Apple customer service at the perfect time. The big iPhone reveal event was happening, his tweet was noticed and people got angry. He explained that three movies he’d “bought” through iTunes disappeared from his library and shared an email from Apple that explained that content was no longer being offered in the iTunes store by the content provider. He was offered a free movie rental with a value of up to $5.99 for his trouble. He was understandably upset about this low ball offer to make him go away.


Numerous outlets picked up Silva’s story and used it as a moment to remind people they don’t really own what they buy on iTunes, they’re just licensing it. Film lovers seized the moment to tweet their preference for buying physical media. Edgelords on Reddit rolled their eyes with “duh, everyone knows that” missives. These reactions are simultaneously correct and a little overblown.

The fact is, you can keep the shows and movies you purchase on iTunes—even if the content provider removes the titles from their catalog.


There is a legitimate philosophical argument to be had around digital rights management, what it means to own something, and the

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