Amazon Prime Video: Just a theoretical scenario, as the company claims?
Photo: Daniel Reinhardt / dpa
Amazon's lawyers are trying to prevent a class action lawsuit against the video service Prime Video in the USA.
As the "Hollywood Reporter" reports, a customer accuses the company of deceiving users of the streaming offer with the "Buy film" button.
After all, films bought there could disappear from the user's library after a certain period of time.
Amazon defends itself against the allegations of the plaintiff by pointing out that it is only assuming a theoretical scenario and citing the anonymous contribution of a "Reddit" user as well as an eight-year-old article as evidence that purchased films can disappear from the offer.
However, the videos purchased by the plaintiff so far are all still available.
It is made clear that "buyers only acquire a limited license to watch video content and that content may no longer be available due to licensing restrictions or other reasons of the provider".
A court in California must now determine whether the lawsuit will be admitted or dismissed.
What does "buy a film" actually mean in streaming?
But the case raises the fundamental question: What does it actually mean when you buy a film from a streaming service such as Apple TV +, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Films or other providers?
After all, the films that can be accessed online cost up to 20 euros as much as DVDs and Blu-Rays in stores, but are linked to the buyer's user account - and other rules apply than when purchasing films on data storage media.
For the lawyer Carola Sieling, Amazon's explanation is not surprising.
"Even under German law, a film bought via a streaming service is not a purchase in the legal sense," the IT law expert told SPIEGEL.
Because that would mean that you could have the film completely.
This is the case, for example, with a book that can be resold after purchase.
It works differently with online purchase videos.
"When I buy films on Amazon and Apple, it feels like a purchase, but it isn't."
It is more a question of a usage permit.
Therefore, Sieling considers the button label "Buy" to be out of place for films.
"That is misleading for the consumer", because ownership is not transferred to the buyer, as is the case with the classic purchase of a DVD or Blu-Ray.
Nevertheless, the lawyer advises against taking legal action if the providers subsequently delete a film from the user's download library.
"The streaming services would possibly commit a copyright infringement themselves if they continued to offer the films even though they lack the appropriate usage rights," says Sieling.
The situation is different if the films are suddenly available in a poorer quality than at the time of purchase.
If, for example, a film purchased in 4K resolution is suddenly only offered in Full HD, the right to defects applies.
"If a quality has been promised, then that is agreed and should also be adhered to."
Compensation for removed films
Two years ago, a customer messed with Apple because he had bought films on iTunes, but they were suddenly no longer available for download.
Apple's usage licenses had expired.
He published his correspondence with customer service on Twitter.
The Apple employees compensated him with vouchers.
The group did not take the films back into the range on the grounds that Apple itself was only a retail store and could only offer what studios and film distributors made available.
The passage on this is pretty short, but Apple clearly reserves the right to remove films from the program.
"Content may not be available for renewed downloads if it is no longer offered through our services," it says there.
If users have already loaded the films on their hard drive, the films and series will not be deleted there, according to the company.
It looks different with Google.
In some cases it is possible that content is deleted from devices or that access is terminated when rights expire.
In these cases, users should be informed in advance.
If users fail to download a movie in a timely manner, "if possible, Google will either provide you with a replacement for the content or a full or partial reimbursement of the price for that content."
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