Apple Does Remove Stuff from the iTunes Store

There’s recently been a story making the rounds about a guy who found some movies he had purchased had been deleted from his library. It turns out that it was user error; the guy moved to a different country, and it’s well known that not all content is available in all regions (and moving to a different country is actually quite complicated, as far as an iTune Store account is concerned.

But Apple does remove content from the iTunes Store from time to time. They don’t do it on their own; it’s the rights holders who pull it. I’ve found several albums I had purchased in the early days of the iTunes Store are no longer available for redownload.

Not available

And this is much more common with music on Apple Music. I have a playlist of music that iTunes shows as “No Longer Available,” which currently contains 674 items. In some cases, albums have been replaced by updated versions, so I could find some of that music again. But I’ve found this to be quite frequent, even with the eclectic music I listen to.

CoverI came across another such album today: the original cast recording of the musical The Girl from the North Country, based on songs by Bob Dylan. This was recorded last year when this musical was performed in London – to great acclaim – and a new production, with a new cast, is performing it in New York City. This album is therefore no longer available on the iTunes Store or Apple Music in the US. Presumably, if the show is popular enough, they will record a version with the new cast; or, they simply don’t want to confuse people who see the New York version.

To be fair, this is a bit of an edge case, but all the music removed from the iTunes Store and Apple Music is removed because it is edge cases. There are issues with rights that often require that record labels pull music from sale, at least on digital platforms. Interesting, this album, which was released on CD in the US about a year ago, shows a release date of October 5. So perhaps it was pulled and will be available again on the iTunes Store and Apple Music.

This stuff is complicated. The guy with the movies was an edge case; this album is an edge case; they all are. Apple doesn’t do this sort of thing just to mess with people.

(If you get a chance to see this, go. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in the theater. I wish it had been filmed, as many plays are these days in the UK. Like Ian McKellan’s King Lear, one of the best events I’ve seen in the theater, which is being filmed in about ten days in its current London venue.)

1 thought on “Apple Does Remove Stuff from the iTunes Store

  1. The problem is that Apple ought to be a leader in crushing this kind of thing. Apple has market power to influence the situation. At a minimum, if Apple can’t get “permanent” rights to movies or songs they have no business “selling” them.

    The broader industry ought to step in. I for one just got a lot less interested in buying movies…as it seems like I am not buying any thing but ephemera. It sure gets a lot harder to argue with the young folk who just find an illegal copy somewhere.

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