Digital content or services you bought on or before 28 November 2022
This page explains your consumer rights if you bought digital content or services on or before 28 November 2022.
Before 29 November 2022, it was difficult to apply general consumer laws to digital content. Most consumer law was written in a pre-digital world, much of the terminology was dated, and the laws could not be applied to digital
From 29 November 2022, the Consumer Rights Act 2022 (pdf) introduces new consumer rights when you buy digital content or services. For the first time, consumers will have the same rights and protections over digital content and digital services, for example, streaming, downloads, cloud products, as traditional products. Read more about your new consumer rights.
What is digital content?
Digital content is data that is produced or supplied in a digital form and is often downloaded or streamed over the internet. Examples of digital content include:
- Games and software
- Films and TV programmes
- Mobile and tablet applications
- Online news platforms
Some digital content may be free to use, for example, mobile applications or ‘apps’. For others, you may have to pay a one-off fee or a regular subscription.
Whether the digital content is free or paid-for, it will usually require you to share some personal information with the trader supplying it. This can include your name, email address and possibly payment details. Websites and apps should tell you what personal information they collect and how it will be used. You can read more about your data protection rights.
Your consumer rights
If the digital content is in a tangible format, you have the same consumer rights as when buying other goods, for example a pair of shoes or a toaster.
Examples of tangible digital content are:
- A film that is on a DVD or CD
- Software that’s pre-loaded onto a device such as a phone or tablet
- Software that is embedded in a product you buy such as smart appliances (like a smart fridge).
If the products you receive are not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or do not match the description you were given, you have a right to certain remedies. A remedy could be a repair, replacement or a refund.
For intangible digital content (content that is downloaded or streamed), more general consumer and contract law applies and your rights are not as strong under consumer legislation when the product is faulty (for example, the downloaded music doesn’t play on your device). From 1 November 2022, there are new rules which give you a right to a refund, repair, replacement or price reduction for digital content or service that is not as described or faulty.
For digital content purchased before 1 November 2022, you do still have some protections under general consumer and contract law.
Confirmation that you entered into a contract
When you enter into a contract and agree to pay, you should get confirmation in a durable format such as email. You should get this immediately before the digital content is supplied (before streaming or downloading begins).
Using your online content subscriptions abroad
You have the right to have full access to your online content subscriptions such as Netflix or Spotify when travelling temporarily in the European Union (EU) under the Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services.
The Regulation (known as the ‘portability regulation’) became law across the EU in April 2018. It applies to online content you have subscribed to and paid for in Ireland. The rules also apply to content that is free if the service provider chooses to be covered by the portability rules. The European Commission has an infographic on portability and travelling with your online content across the EU.
Faulty digital content
Before 1 November 2022, there were no explicit consumer rules on digital content. This makes it difficult to take action against the seller if the product is faulty or is not of the quality that you would reasonably expect.
From 1 November 2022, there are new rules which give you a right to a refund, repair, replacement or price reduction for digital content or service that is not as described or faulty. The new rules only apply to digital content and services bought after 1 November 2022.
How to complain
When you enter into a digital content contract, both you and the seller are bound by the terms and conditions. This means that you have to pay but the seller also has to provide what was promised.
If you have a problem, put your complaint in writing to the service provider as soon as you can to see if they can fix it.
If you cannot resolve the problem, you can: