[A2k] Amazon accidentally removes Disney Christmas special from owners' accounts

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Dec 16 11:56:12 PST 2013

  Amazon accidentally removes Disney Christmas special from owners' accounts

Prep & Landing has been removed from sale on Amazon so that Disney can 
show the film exclusively on its own channel -- but the company also 
removed it from the accounts of users who had paid for the show

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    Alex Hern <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/alex-hern>

  * theguardian.com <http://www.theguardian.com/>, Monday 16 December
    2013 15.02 GMT
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The title card of Prep & Landing Prep and Landing was removed from the 
Amazon store. Photograph: Disney

Users who bought a festive cartoon from Amazon found themselves unable 
to watch it in the run up to Christmas after the company removed access 
to digital copies from their account.

Disney's Prep & Landing, a Christmas special first aired in 2009, has 
been available for customers to rent and buy on Amazon's Instant Video 
service since Christmas 2011, when its sequel was aired and also uploaded.

For $2.99, customers could purchase the video, which Amazon's site says 
lets them: "watch and re-watch it as often as you like... You may stream 
a purchased video while connected to the internet and access the video 
from Your Video Library on any other compatible device. You may also 
download the video."

This week, though, the company temporarily removed access to both 
episodes of Prep & Landing, not only preventing new customers buying or 
renting the show, but also preventing those who had already paid -- 
under the promise that they could "re-watch it as often" as they like -- 
from doing so.

Amazon blamed the removal on "a temporary issue with some of our catalog 
data" which it says has been fixed, adding that "customers should never 
lose access to their Amazon Instant Video purchases."

One customer told the blog Boing Boing 
<http://boingboing.net/2013/12/15/amazon-takes-away-access-to-pu.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter> that the 
company gave him a different reason: "Amazon has explained to me that 
Disney can pull their content at any time and 'at this time they've 
pulled that show for exclusivity on their own channel.'"

It worries some that the company has the power to prevent users from 
accessing media they have bought and paid for. Boing Boing writer Cory 
Doctorow, a digital rights campaigner and Guardian columnist, says 
that "Amazon stuck the gun on the mantelpiece in Act One, and they don't 
get to act all surprised now that it went off in Act Three. Anyone who 
didn't see this coming failed to do so because it was their job not to 
see it coming."

Peter Bradwell of the UK-based Open Rights Group says that "online 
service providers or rights holders often can remove access to products 
like this - it will be in their terms and conditions."

"It's one way that online digital products are being built to be less 
useful than physical copies. Nobody would come to your house and take 
your DVDs just because they later decide they want those films playing 
exclusively on their TV channel."

In 2009, Amazon surprised Kindle owners by deleting copies of George 
Orwell's 1984 without prior notice 
The company refunded users, but told them that the book was "no longer 

However, Orwell's dystopian classic was only on sale in the first place 
due to an oversight on Amazon's part, after a publisher which did not 
have the rights to the books began selling digital copies without 
permission. The removal of Prep & Landing appears to be the first time 
Amazon has removed access to content which users legitimately purchased.

Disney was contacted for comment, hadn't responded at time of publication.

. *Microsoft had to drop restrictive copy-protection after a gamer 
Will Amazon be forced to follow suit?*

/Updated 18:05 GMT with Amazon's response./

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