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Apple is giving new meaning to the old adage “you can’t pick your family.”

Many Apple customers are reporting today that Apple is making them wait a calendar year before adding loved ones to the company’s new “Family Sharing” account feature, which lets you share digital media from iCloud and iTunes with up to six people.

Why? Well, it has to do with a restriction Apple is using to prevent Family Sharing from becoming a tool for pirating digital media. Family Sharing launched yesterday, and lots of people who rushed to set it up found that the people they added were unable to actually share digital media among themselves. This appears to be a temporary bug that goes away for most users soon after set up, but we’re reaching out to Apple for additional details.

This does not, however, help anyone who took it upon themselves to fix the Family Sharing bug on their own using the sage advice offered by The IT Crowd’s Moss and Roy (have you tried turning it off and on again?).

Anyone who removed family members from their Apple Family Sharing account, turned off the sharing feature, and restarted the setup process found that they were unable to re-add those family members for a calendar year.

Technically, this only happens for anyone who was added to Family Sharing at least twice. See, Apple will only let you take advantage of Family Sharing twice per year, meaning you can share with two different “families” total. It doesn’t matter if you’ve left one of the “families,” either. Once you’ve been added twice, that’s it — you have to wait 364 days before you can join another one.

Yes, this seems stupid — the same kind of stupid that pushes people to justify piracy. I get that Apple wants to feel confident that Family Sharing isn’t just an easy way to pirate media for close-knit communities, but not everything being shared is under copyright. (For instance, photos and videos taken from an iOS device.) There’s really not a good reason for Apple to block its customers from re-joining a “family” if the Apple ID they use isn’t already part of another “family.”

h/t Chris Lee

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