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Data Privacy & Security

Digital Content Subject to New UK Consumer Protection Law


On 1 October 2015, the UK's new Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force. The Act is noteworthy because it establishes a new category of product called digital content and certain rights that consumers have when they buy such content.  Any business with an e-commerce element aimed at UK customers will want to pay attention to these new developments.

1. What Is The UK Consumer Rights Act About?

The Act provides certain rights and remedies for consumers when they buy goods, services or digital content which is faulty, inaccurately described or badly performed. The Act also deals with unfair terms in consumer contracts. 

2. What Is Digital Content?

Previously, UK consumer law dealt with consumers' rights when buying "goods" or "services".  In the modern digital world, it was difficult to apply the old law as it was not clear whether products such as apps, e-books or downloads of music or films should be treated as goods or services. 

The Act introduces a new category of product called digital content, which is defined as "data which is produced in digital form". This includes not only tangible digital content such as music on a CD, but also non-tangible digital content such as downloaded or streamed music, films, apps or software. 

3. Are There Any Special Rights And Remedies That Apply To Faulty Digital Content?

Yes. For example, the Act requires digital content sold to consumers to be of satisfactory quality and match any description given by the seller. If there is a problem with purchased digital content, the consumer is entitled to ask for a repair or refund.

Another new remedy is that a consumer can require the supplier of the digital content to make certain repairs or pay compensation if he or she can demonstrate that the digital content damaged the consumer's device or other digital content because the supplier failed to use reasonable care and skill to prevent it. This remedy applies whether the digital content is free or paid for. An example would be where a consumer buys an app for organising their photos, but the app has a bug that causes the app to delete their photos. 

4. Can I Exclude These New Rights In My Terms and Conditions?

No. Any attempt to use "as is" warranties or disclaimers of implied terms as to quality or fitness for purpose in consumer contracts will be ineffective and non-binding on a consumer. However, the Act allows businesses to limit liability for damage to a consumer's device or digital content to the extent the limitation is fair.   

What Next?

No. Any attempt to use "as is" warranties or disclaimers of implied terms as to quality or fitness for purpose in consumer contracts will be ineffective and non-binding on a consumer. However, the Act allows businesses to limit liability for damage to a consumer's device or digital content to the extent the limitation is fair.   

 

Contributors – Doris Myles