Downloaders don’t have same legal rights, warns watchdog
A consumer watchdog has warned people buying digital downloads this Christmas that they don’t have the same legal protection as people buying CDs or DVDs.
Consumer Focus claims current laws don’t adequately protect people who download music, films or software over the internet. “Digital products delivered in the process of downloading or streaming are not considered to be ‘tangible goods’ and so are exempt from the statutory consumer’s right to redress,” the group warns in a new report.
It leaves consumers vulnerable to potential loss in cases where digital products are not fit for purpose
“As a result, consumers buying digital goods and services are exposed to risks where products are not fit for purpose or undelivered, and need to rely on the goodwill of retailers and content providers when seeking remedies.”
The bizarre situation means that someone buying the same album or piece of software via a download would have fewer rights than someone who purchased a boxed copy with physical media.
“It leaves consumers vulnerable to potential loss in cases where digital products are not fit for purpose, defective, non-conforming to the advertised product description, or might cause damage or loss to users’ software,” Consumer Focus warns.
The watchdog’s own mystery shopping exercise revealed how consumers could be caught out by this legal anomaly. Many online retailers, for example, didn’t provide any information on the minimum PC specification required to run the software they sold. “It meant that one-third of mystery shoppers did not receive adequate information on a product to which they would have no rights to redress in case of nonfunctionality,” Consumer Focus stated.
Just over a third of download stores failed to provide up-front information on the digital rights management (DRM) associated with their products.