Wait, Can Apple Delete Movies Downloaded On iTunes?

It looks like we just found a reason to read through the iTunes Store's long-winded terms and conditions. One Canadian customer who bought digital copies of movies through iTunes' wide selection of releases found himself three films shy of his past purchases, and when he complained to Apple support, they weren't able to give him the movies back or offer him a refund. The customer took to Twitter to share his irritating exchange with Apple concerning his disappearing movie library, which is quite eye-opening to what it means when you make digital purchase. Take a look:

See more

Twitter user @drandersgs took the opportunity to call out Apple CEO Tim Cook while sharing exactly what happened right after he found three digital movies missing from his library. The tweets have gone viral, with thousands of users retweeting him. As he points out, when he asked for help from Apple, representatives told him that the movies were no longer available on the Canadian store, though they offered him two free rentals priced up to $5.99 in an attempt to smooth over the situation. However, the customer, who likely paid anywhere from $10 to $20 for each film, was rightfully unhappy with the less-than-even compensation for the debacle.

The customer pushed on, writing back that he was uninterested in rentals from the store and that he just wanted his movies or money back. The service responded, explaining to him that the iTunes Store is just a store front that gives content providers, such as studios and distributors, a platform to sell their items and can decide to remove titles at their discretion. The Apple advisor also told him that the case wasn't within means to offer him a refund, sourcing out the conditions of the store. Likely to his anguish, Apple Support offered him two more rentals on them.

The situation definitely serves as a reminder of what it means when you buy a movie, television show or music on the iTunes Store or at other platforms such as Amazon. Because the online stores are just vessels for studios and distributors to offer or not offer content, there is no guarantee any title will forever be in your library if purchased digitally. Purchasing digital copies of movies is definitely the more portable alternative to finding shelf space for Blu-ray releases, especially as technology starts to move away from physical formats, but it's still not a surefire way to keep a movie forever.

The paranoia of a story like this could get cinephiles back to DVD stores, for those unaware that these online stores are more like Netflix streaming than one might think. Although the situation doesn't seem to be affecting iTunes customers as a whole.

UPDATE: CNET spoke with da Silva, who clarified that he'd moved from Australia to Canada roughly nine months ago, and once there, Cars, Cars 2 and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the three movies he'd bought in Australia, were no longer accessible, though he hasn't had issues with any other movies he purchased in Australia. In a statement to the outlet, Apple stated that any movies you've already downloaded can be "enjoyed at any time and will not be deleted unless you've chosen to do so." If your country setting is changed though, some movies "may not be available to re-download from the movie store if the version you purchased isn't also available in the new country," although your country setting can be reverted back to what it was previously to re-download those movies.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.