Consumer rights when purchasing digital content

The Consumer Rights Act gives consumers protection when it comes to digital downloads that fail to work, i.e. are corrupt. Consumers are entitled to a repair or replacement if the digital content is faulty and even compensation if other downloads or devices are affected.

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What is 'digital content?'

Digital content is 'data which are produced and supply in digital form.' This means you have rights in relation to anything you download or stream, including apps, software, ebooks, games or music. It can be something online you have paid for, something given to you for free with a paid-for item and any content supplied on a physical medium, such as a CD or DVD.

What if digital content is faulty?

Digital content must be:

  • of satisfactory quality
  • fit for purpose; and
  • as described by the seller.

If your digital content does not meet these criteria and develops a fault, you have the right to have your digital product repaired or replaced.

Cancelling a digital download

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, digital downloads are neither goods nor services, meaning the law is a little different. If you want to download something within 14 days of buying it (what is known as the 'cooling-off period'), you will have to give your consent to waive the 14-day cooling-off period.

If you do not give your consent, the 14-day cooling-off period still applies, however, you will not be able to download your digital content until this period has ended.

This is to stop you from changing your mind after you have downloaded the content.

Repair or replacement?

The retailer from whom you purchased the digital content has one opportunity to replace any goods or digital content that are faulty before you can claim a refund. You can choose whether you want the goods to be repaired or replaced, but the retailer can refuse if they can show that your choice is disproportionately expensive compared with the alternative.

Partial refund

You may be entitled to a partial refund in the following circumstances:

  • The cost or repair/replacement is disproportionate to the value of the digital content.
  • Repair/replacement is impossible.
  • Repair/replacement would take unreasonably long.
  • Repair has been unsuccessful.

If you don't want a refund and still want your product repaired or replaced, you have the right to request that the retailer makes further attempts at repair/replacement.


The retailer must compensate you if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the faulty digital content you've downloaded. This only applies where that damage wouldn't have occurred had 'reasonable care and skill' been exercised in the provision of the digital content (even if that content was provided for free).


If you've made a genuine mistake with a download purchase, contact the retailer to see if you can get a refund or exchange the download for one you want. It's worth checking the retailer's terms and conditions, as some retailers offer refunds or exchanges as a gesture of goodwill here; even if you've waived your right to cancel.
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