Downloading digital copies of your favourite movies might be convenient and reduce shelf space, but don’t count on owning them forever.

A Canadian iTunes customer had a rude awakening when he discovered three films he’d purchased had mysteriously vanished from his digital library. After contacting Apple for an explanation – and a replacement or refund for the missing films – he received the following response:

Please be informed that the iTunes/App store is a storefront that gives content provider(s) a platform or place to sell their items. We can only offer what has been made available to us via the studios or distributor. Since the content provider has removed these movies from the Canadian store, I am unable to provide you the copy of those movies.

Oh, and thanks for choosing Apple.

The company did, however, offer a couple of complimentary rentals as compensation.

This isn’t the first time this has happened; Disney has reportedly yanked titles from digital storefronts without warning in the past, much to the chagrin of parents and howling kids.

The practice is tantamount to theft. A bricks and mortar retailer is sometimes required to withdraw a title from sale at a studio/distributor’s request, but the difference is the supplier doesn’t also go into the homes of those who’d previously bought that title and take those copies, too.

So be warned, unless you have a physical copy of a film on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K in your possession, you can’t be certain it will still be there in your library when you want to watch it.