New Laws Regarding Digital Content

Currently, in the United Kingdom, there is not much protection for consumers who purchase digital content such as applications on their phone, online games, software, e-books or video and music downloads.

There is a proposal for new legislation regarding digital content to give the consumer protection to digital purchases; such as all contracts for digital content with consumers to include an implied term guaranteeing the quality of the digital content. If this is breached, then the consumer will be entitled to a refund or replacement due to defection and poor quality content.

Digital content is defined in the Bill as ‘data which is produced and supplied in digital form’. The definition is purposely broad allowing all software to be captured within the meaning of the term.

The new law will benefit the consumers of digital content and does not cover contracts dealing with digital content in a business to business (or consumer to consumer) capacity. If there is a dispute on this point, the business will have to prove that the individual is not a consumer.

The following are the key rights that are being proposed to protect digital content consumers:

  1. Implied terms of quality – this means that consumers will have the legal right for any digital content to be supplied as described, fulfil the reasonable standard of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, free of minor defects, safe and durable.
  2. Supplier warrants its right to supply – this effectively means that all contracts for digital content will include an implied term that the supplier has the right to supply the digital content to the consumer. Therefore, if any digital content is supplied which subsequently breaches the intellectual property rights of an individual, the supplier will be held as in breach of the contract with the consumer and the consumer will be entitled to remedies for breach of contract.
  3. Remedies if the quality of digital content is inadequate – if the digital content does not mean the
  4.  implied terms of quality, the consumer will have the right to repair or replacement of the digital content, or to a price reduction or refund. This further implies that suppliers could be held liable to compensate the consumer for their purchase if other compatible software was purchased in reliance on the digital content meeting the implied quality standards.
  5. Compensation for damage to other devices and content. This is only appropriate in certain circumstances and only relates to damage that is caused by the purchased digital content. The supplier may be liable to rectify or compensate for damage such as loss of data due to viruses or defects in the digital content.

Suppliers of digital content, such as retailers and software developers, should prepare for the new legislation and review their existing contracts and terms and conditions to ensure that they do not misrepresent to consumers their rights.

Here at Seatons, we can provide effective legal advice on your current terms and conditions and ensure that you are prepared for the new legislation. Contact us today or call 01536 276300.