Here’s some information that will undoubtedly feed the arguments of DRM detractors and advocates of physical media everywhere: Many European consumers who purchased movies through the PlayStation Store are being denied access by Sony. The fact that Sony is specifically eliminating movies from the Studiocanal production firm from the PlayStation Store in a few locations—currently known to be Germany and Austria, but additional potential regions are yet unknown—was first discovered on the German-language PlayStation Store website. As stated in that announcement:
Notably, there is no mention of replacing those films or providing clients with any type of return. It’s just the worst-case scenario—a major media corporation declaring one day that your alleged “ownership” of purchased digital material doesn’t actually exist—exactly what supporters of physical media have long dreaded. The films impacted include a vast, extensive list of well-known American productions, ranging from The Hunger Games and the Paddington movies to Apocalypse Now, John Wick, and La La Land. Here is a complete list of the titles that are impacted.
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Sony has not yet responded to the news, but many customers must have been anticipating this since the company announced in March 2021 that as of August 31, 2021, the PlayStation Store would no longer offer new movie purchases or rentals on the PS4 and PS5. Users could still access movies and TV shows they had purchased through the PlayStation Store at the time for on-demand viewing on the PS4, PS5, and mobile devices, the firm informed users at the time.
Simply eliminating all of Studiocanal’s content would be a breach of that commitment and similar to blatant theft since it would prevent customers from viewing the media they had paid and would not provide a refund. Once this precedent has been established, what is to stop it from playing out to its gory conclusion? One must immediately ask what market or what studio’s films would be the next to be put on the chopping block
Additionally, how will businesses like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google react if they observe Sony’s attempt to deprive customers of their ownership of digital media? Will the public outrage be sufficient to compel recompense if one of the other tech behemoths simply decides to shut down its movie store or block access to purchased digital media? Or do these businesses now feel so certain in their immunity that they will voluntarily erase any of your “bought” stuff because they know they can get away with anything?
A watershed event that will set the standard for how the public perceives digital ownership seems to be approaching where these contentious issues of DRM and digital media ownership are concerned. Let’s hope that incident doesn’t result in a tech company deleting your personal movie library.