Do We Really Own The Virtual Things That We Buy?

Do We Really Own The Virtual Things That We Buy?

A digital media revolution began at the beginning of the 21st century thanks to widely available internet connections and data storage. The first significant competitor was Apple's portable music player, the iPod, which had a fully integrated digital music marketplace. These days, it's possible to stream and download everything without ever touching a disc or tape, including music, movies, books, and video games. This new digital ownership model isn't flawless, either. The information on a Blu-ray or DVD disc that you purchase is yours to keep for the foreseeable future. You would essentially be at their mercy if you choose to buy the same movie from a streaming provider.

This is so because, as a result of things like rights ownership changes and music licensing concerns, the digital purchase only gives you a short-term access to the media. The terms of service provided by the media supplier are likely to highlight all of this. "I suspect it says it's a non-exclusive, time-limited license," says Ruth Carter, an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, who focuses on intellectual property and internet law. "If the website and its terms of service make it clear that the user is only getting a license, and there's no guarantee that any media will remain available."

Digital Media Licensing and Rights

When it comes to licensing, copyright, and intellectual property, nearly every kind of media is a whole other can of worms. For instance, the soundtrack of a movie is likely to include licensed music. The movie studio must buy a license from the music's copyright holder in order to utilize that song, and that license will probably expire in the future. The studio will then lose the right to sell copies of the movie that contain that song, and the media will start to disappear from internet shops. The studio may later decide to renew the license or decide to remove the original material from the finished product.

The majority of the time, delisted media can still be downloaded if it has already been paid for, however there are certain instances where this hasn't been the case. Sony announced at the beginning of July that it will no longer be renewing the rights for StudioCanal movies in Germany and Austria. Apocalypse Now, La La Land, The Deer Hunter, This is Spinal Tap, as well as series like "Saw" and "The Hunger Games" will no longer be available, and Sony will stop accepting new VOD orders for its service after August 31, 2022.

Another prominent instance using Konami's downloadable P.T. concerned Sony. demo. P.T. was delisted after the publisher decided not to release the full version of "Silent Hills." by way of the PlayStation Store. It can be regarded as lost media because there are no other legal ways to access the demo. Digital shops save all of their data on actual servers. Old servers can simply be turned off, wiping off numerous gigabytes of media storage, if the company goes out of business or decides to relocate its servers. Because online multiplayer games need their own server space to be hosted, this is a challenge in especially for the gaming industry. Too few players will be considered a money-sink by the developer, and games with too few players will eventually have their multiplayer servers shut down.

The game's online features won't work in these circumstances. Some games are designed to be played exclusively online, and if the servers are shut down, those games become absolutely worthless. Publisher Ubisoft recently disclosed that as of September 1, 2022, it would stop providing online services for 15 of its older games. This contains several installments of the well-known Assassin's Creed franchise. Entire shops have closed down because of outdated video gaming consoles. Nintendo stopped allowing any game downloads for its Wii system store on January 30, 2019. In March 2023, the more recent Wii U and 3DS models are scheduled to arrive. Additionally, Sony has said that its PlayStation 3 store would close. After significant consumer outcry, they eventually changed their minds, but not all features are yet available.

Protecting Your Digital Content

With that in mind, what recourse does a customer have if their media licenses are cancelled in terms of money or legal action? Ruth Carter claims it's very little. What would the damages be, especially if the licensing fee is modest, she asks? "It's not worth it to pursue a lawsuit because a song, movie, or game was taken off the market," she says. If a user wanted to sue, they would likely have to adhere to the website's or app's dispute resolution policy, which would include filing a case outside of your state or perhaps your country.

End-user license agreements and terms of service are created to shield businesses from legal repercussions in situations like these. I realize most people don't read the terms of service before clicking the box stating they agree to the conditions, but that doesn't mean you didn't agree to them, adds Carter. "The terms of service may also prevent class action lawsuits."

However, there is a straightforward solution to circumvent the complications of internet media, and that is to just buy physical copies of your preferred TV shows, music albums, and video games. You may maintain optical discs like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, which are still widely accessible. Software like iTunes and Handbrake are frequently used to create digital backups. Additionally, the audio and visual quality will be far superior to streaming. However, the majority of customers probably won't want to give up digital media's ease and space-saving qualities. Just remember that a sizable download library isn't promised to last indefinitely.                                                                                                                                              

Good To Know

Physical media likewise has a short shelf life even though license concerns are not an issue. 35mm film will deteriorate after around 40 years if it isn't preserved in the best preservation setting. Optical discs last roughly 25 years, while magnetic tape lasts about 10 to 20. So, if you haven't already, you might want to think about digitizing your old CD collection.