With the ever-growing list of the source of the content we consume not being physical and buying things or adding things to lists in digital form, I am finding a disturbing trend. I first noticed this with music tracks on Spotify and Apple Music. But I ran across audiobooks and have seen stories of digital purchases being blocked after someone has paid for them and not being refunded as the extreme end of this.
When you have a music track and add it to a playlist, you expect the same track to be there the next time you play the list. I noticed that people would put out a cover or remix of a song, name the song differently, have a different artist, and be part of a different album, but your track on the list and what was downloaded to your device would change. I first saw this on Spotify, but since switching to Apple Music, I see it there too.
As a software developer, I would have expected these systems to function as I would build them. Each track, no matter the title, artist, or other metadata, would have a unique ID for the track. That unique ID would be the thing stored on the list. This should never change; even if there were reasons preventing the user from playing the track for geopolitical reasons, the ID should be kept. Play the track the user wanted or just tell them its unavailable.
So that’s the music track problem, but I now see an audiobook problem. I added the Isaac Asimov – Foundation book to my wish list, but I now have the “Apple Series Tie-in Edition” on my list. That’s strange. That should be a different listing. And I wasn’t the only one who found this to be a problem. People who already purchased the original “©1982 Isaac Asimov (P)2010 Random House” audiobook from Audible have had their version changed and are unhappy. I would be mad, too, if I paid for something and got something different the next time I tried using it. Music track streaming is annoying but buying a book is worse.
I know that with Amazon Kindle, authors can update the book for errors but replacing it with a new version is unacceptable. Wouldn’t it make more marketing sense to have a second version closer to a movie or TV show? The real fans may buy both versions. Movies have “Director Cut” or “Extended Version,” and I have paid extra for them in the case of Aliens. But in the case of Foundation, this is purely used for advertising Apple TV. And Apple TV is one of the worst of the plethora of “Plus” subscriptions.
The final example of digital content change problems was a movie people “purchased,” but the video was removed because of some copyright dispute. The hosting companies will side with any copyright claims and wash their hands of it as though it’s not their problem. The problem was the person who “purchased” was led to believe they owned the digital copy of the movie. The reality is we own nothing these days. Tucked away in pages of “terms of service,” these companies are lying with the “purchase.” They are only giving you a “license” to use the music, movie, software, and information as long as YOU comply with their rules, and they can change the rules and remove the access at any time.
This deceptive practice runs into physical goods such as cars, money, housing, and more. When the World Economic Forum said, “You will own nothing, and be happy,” they meant the OWN NOTHING part, and as long as people are entertained enough, they will think they are happy if they comply.