Nadia Lee | NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance » Blog Archive » Even If You Pay For It, You Don’t Own It
Even If You Pay For It, You Don’t Own It

In this rather discouraging outcome, it looks like you don’t own the digital products you buy from iTunes. You “license” them.

…a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that iTunes downloads (even the DRM-free variety) are encumbered by enough restrictions that they can’t be considered sales at all.

There will be appeals, but if the number of restrictions can make something “licensed” versus “owned”, technically this ruling can apply to any digital product you buy from anywhere else, not just iTunes.

I’m not sure how I feel about “licensing” books or mp3s and so on. If they’re merely licensed, I’d like to see digital product prices drop. I’m not spending $7.99 or more on a book I don’t even get to own.

7 comments to “Even If You Pay For It, You Don’t Own It”

  1. TigerBlak
    · September 8th, 2010 at 9:48 pm · Link

    I agree. Its getting to the point where they force the consumer’s hand in what they choose to own. Which is part of the reason I don’t buy much, if anything from iTunes. But if this is going to be applied across the board which would include ebooks, I wonder if that gives credence to the deletion of licensed material from your device or cease and desist if you keep an ebook even though the publishing house for it has gone defunct.

  2. Susan
    · September 8th, 2010 at 11:56 pm · Link

    I think the advent of downloadable content is going to force us, like it or not, to rethink ownership and usage of content.

    I was having this discussion on twitter the other day. I have gotten over the fact, if I “rent” a movie or even buy one from Amazon or iTunes – I may or may not actually “own” it.

    Where I get stuck is books. Ebooks are more expensive and I have not seen an option to “rent” or “borrow” and I agree with you, if I pay more than $3 for it – it is mine and I want to be able to keep it. I am physical book hoarder and I feel no differently about my downloaded books.

  3. S. V. Rowle
    · September 9th, 2010 at 3:40 am · Link

    This is why I make several backups of all purchases and download ‘pirated’ copies of items that I can’t strip of DRM. I’ve paid for them once already, darn it, and I’m not using more than one copy at once.

    If the appeals of this case fail and all digital downloads fall under this rule, I will simply buy physical versions and download pirated “phase-shifted” copies as a matter of course instead of on occasion.

    If I am renting instead of buying items, I expect the prices to drop accordingly. I suspect many others feel the same way. Jane Litte at DearAuthor has already said she’ll phase-shift herself, although

    Of course, if the option to buy a physical copy disappears, the former action (buying a DRMed version and downloading a pirated version) may be the only available option.

    This sucks, because I am determined to pay for my books. Though DRM circumvention is now legal thanks to a recent legal ruling, to stay legal I would technically have to scan all of my books myself instead of downloading versions someone else has already made, and who wants to waste their time doing something someone else has already done?

    DRM really is stupid and pointless, but I could go one forever about this, and I’ll spare you the stress, Nadia. :)

    • Nadia Lee
      · September 9th, 2010 at 11:30 pm · Link

      SV —

      I’m buying more and more print books if I have a choice because of the DRM issues. I want to be able to give or share books with friends and family.

  4. Nadia Lee
    · September 9th, 2010 at 2:28 am · Link

    TigerBlak — I think “licensing” of ebooks is nothing but a sneaky way for e-tailers and publishers to control what we can and cannot keep AFTER paying full cover price for it. Ebooks aren’t any cheaper than print books in most cases.

    Susan — I hear ya. I feel like with ebooks, it’s more like “renting” than actually “owning”.

  5. Renmiu
    · September 9th, 2010 at 3:32 am · Link

    I do believe in the future all digital downloads will be consider rental. Anything to make more money :(

    • Nadia Lee
      · September 9th, 2010 at 11:28 pm · Link

      Renmiu — I agree with you. It makes me very unhappy.

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