The UK has enacted a new law which extends existing consumer protection laws to include digital content. The Consumer Rights Act guarantees that anyone who buys digital content such as DVDs, online films and games, music downloads, or ebooks in the UK will have the opportunity to return the content and get a refund should it prove defective.
The refund period is limited to only 30 days, but the law also gives UK consumers an addition five months to request that the retailer repair or replace the faulty digital content. If the repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can then claim a refund or a price reduction if they wish to keep the product.
The new law also includes provisions giving consumers the option to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair, or are hidden in the fine print of a website's ToS. There's no guarantee that a consumer will win the challenge, but they do have the chance to get a third party to mediate the dispute rather than having to take the retailer to court.
With UK consumers having spent an estimated £2.8 billion on downloaded music, games, and videos last year, the new regulations are long overdue.
The new rules will probably have a greater impact on game downloads than ebooks, but readers will still come out ahead. Fiascos like the screwed up Sim City launch will prove an expensive and even more public error for developers under the new law, but the law will also give readers a recourse for DRM making their ebooks disappear.
That recourse is only good for six months after purchase, which doesn't strike me as fair at all, but it is better than nothing.
image by lurker4hire