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Buy DVDs Again: Amazon Says You Don’t Own Digital Purchases

"Purchasing" digital media isn't really the same. Literally.

Hey parents: It’s probably time to start buying DVDs and Blu-rays again. Streaming services are the way most people are viewing movies and other programming these days, and that makes perfect sense. Click a button and the world is your oyster. Buy a movie on, say, Amazon Prime Video, and you own that movie, right? Mmmmm, not so fast. And the situation goes a long way toward making the case for physical media over streaming, especially for kids and families.

Let us explain.

There’s a case in the courts now, and per an article this week in The Hollywood Reporter, here’s the crux of it:

“When an Amazon Prime Video user buys content on the platform, what they’re really paying for is a limited license for ‘on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time’ and they’re warned of that in the company’s terms of use. That’s the company’s argument for why a lawsuit over hypothetical future deletions of content should be dismissed.”

Amanda Caudel of California claimed in her class-action suit, filed in April, that Amazon’s Prime Video service “secretly reserves the right” to terminate a consumer’s access to content purchased through the service. This week, Amazon filed a motion aimed at securing a dismissal of the complaint, contending that Caudel “fails to allege a cognizable claim under any legal theory” as she is not an injured party. Additionally, the motion reads, “An individual does not need to read an agreement in order to be bound by it.” Ah, the fine print.

The legalese gets muddy from there, but for the layman at home with his or her or their kids itching for entertainment in the midst of the pandemic, it boils down to a couple of questions. Why purchase something for $14.99 when you can rent it for $5.99? And why rent it when you can buy the DVD or Blu-ray and actually own the title forever – for about the price of that Amazon Prime Video purchase?

We at Fatherly appreciate everything that streaming offers, but there’s nothing like holding a disc, sliding it into our DVD/Blu-ray player, and watching not just the movie, but not having to worry about wi-fi or streaming contacts while you’re at it. Plus, kids like holding objects and knowing that those objects represent something tangible. Streaming movies don’t do that. Here’s the other rub: Some kids shows and movies don’t stay on their respective streaming media platforms. In the recent past, some parents might have believed that buying a digital movie or show might protect you from losing that show and having your kid freak out. But, it turns out this isn’t true.

So, if it takes a legal battle over the intricacies of streaming to rekindle our love of physical media, so be it. Buy some DVDs!