Consumer rights when buying digital content
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 defines 'digital content' as meaning 'data which are produced and supplied in digital form'. This covers many digital-formats including:
- computer games
- virtual items purchased within computer games
- television programmes
- computer software
- mobile phone apps
- systems software for operating goods - for example, domestic appliances, toys, motor vehicles, etc
Under the law certain standards apply to every transaction for the supply of digital content. The digital content must be:
- of satisfactory quality
- fit for a particular purpose
- as described
All of the statutory rights for the supply or intended supply of digital content apply only if the consumer has to pay a monetary price as part of the contract.
Payment may be directly made using money or indirectly by means of some other facility, eg a gift voucher, a token or virtual money in a game. Digital content can be sold as an item requiring a single payment or by means of an ongoing subscription allowing access to the digital content over a period of time.
If digital content is given away (for example, free computer system software) the statutory rights do not apply. This does not mean that the trader is not liable if the digital content causes damage.