Sony is purging some TV shows from users' libraries, including purchased content

Cal Jeffrey

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Editor's take: Sony unilaterally removing paid-for content is bound to reignite the argument for piracy – specifically to protect from unfair digital media seizures. While I cannot condone piracy, I can understand this frustration. Companies need to seriously reconsider how they implement licensing if they can arbitrarily take away content purchased on top of their subscriptions. Discontinuing the "Buy" button or allowing offline downloading would be a start.

If you have purchased Discovery content from PlayStation at any time in the past, prepare to lose it. Sony has notified some PSN members that it is pulling digital content from the store and user libraries on December 31, even if they paid for it.

"Due to our content licensing arrangements with content providers, you will no longer be able to watch any of your previously purchased Discovery content, and the content will be removed from your video library," reads the email notice one user posted on X (below).

The full notice on the PlayStation website, titled "Discovery Entitlements Affected Titles," lists hundreds of shows Sony will purge from the store and user accounts at the end of the year. Some popular entries leaving include Myth Busters, Shark Week, Sister Wives, How It's Made, and Naked and Afraid.

Of course, users haven't taken the news well. We saw similar outrage when Sony announced the closure of the PlayStation 3 and PSP stores. However, in those cases, the company didn't pull games from players' libraries and left legacy servers open for players to redownload their titles.

While the closures ultimately didn't affect paying customers, they reminded us that we don't own the content. All digital content is a licensing agreement that can be changed or revoked by the issuing company. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this, not just because nobody reads novel-length licensing agreements but also because companies continue using the "Buy" button, which is misleading.

Sony's notice didn't mention causes for the licensing issues, nor did it respond to requests for comment. However, it could be related to Discovery's merger with Warner Bros.

In April 2022, AT&T spun off WarnerMedia, which merged with Discovery to become Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD). IGN notes that in August, 36 shows and movies got axed from HBO Max. At the time, Variety pointed out that WBD had quietly removed several films from the streaming platform since the deal concluded. Eurogamer speculates that Sony's licensing failures could be further cost-cutting fallout from the merger.

Although Sony has not commented on the matter, it is bound to address the blowback. It's too early to say how the company will respond to furious users. However, it's not likely the company will simply fall back on its licensing agreement, even though that should keep it legally sound from the lawsuits that are sure to follow. It will more likely offer concessions to affected users, such as in-store credit or partial refunds. However, it's too early to say anything for sure.

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Pretty sure that you can't enter a valid license agreement if you tell the customer they're "Buying" something with a buy button. You might accept a license agreement and provide payments towards it, even if just one, but at no point you're 'buying' the product.

If this isn't law already, it's a big enough case that it could help make it illegal to put 'Buy' buttons on digital store fronts if you're not actually buying a digital product but entering a one-time payment licensing agreement.
 
Pretty sure that you can't enter a valid license agreement if you tell the customer they're "Buying" something with a buy button. You might accept a license agreement and provide payments towards it, even if just one, but at no point you're 'buying' the product.

If this isn't law already, it's a big enough case that it could help make it illegal to put 'Buy' buttons on digital store fronts if you're not actually buying a digital product but entering a one-time payment licensing agreement.
You aren't buying a product, you're buying a license allowing you to use it. This is why under the DMCA you're allowed to make a 1 digital backup of any physical media you have but not have local copies of digitally purchased media. There are licenses for "offline viewing" but that is a whole other can of worms and requires apps, encryption and all kinds of DRM.
 
I have no issue halting new streaming from a certain content producer due to licensing changes, but if a consumer purchases content that was well understood to be irrevocable (and not just in the legal fine print), then it’s completely anti-consumer for Sony to remove that content from the consumer’s library without a corresponding refund of the original purchase price.

Of course you can bet they won’t cheerfully refund that money until forced to do so via PR outrage or a lawsuit.
 
I bought Destiny 2 at full 70€, didn’t get around playing it rightaway. Then the whole main campaign was removed for technical reasons. Never giving them my money again…
 
This is the main reason why I never purchase digital content. If I don't actually have a physical object to own, then it's not real. I still own several hundred CDs for my offline listening pleasure. I do stream music, but I know that at any time some songs can be pulled from their library. As for movies, I only own about a dozen DVDs/VHS tapes, but my plex server has thousands of movies and hundreds of TV shows, so never at a loss for something to watch.
 
I feel this problem is not remote to Sony. Any digital content can be removed since you don’t own a physical copy of it. I believe Apple did the same in their iTunes Store before. So for people happily paying for digital goods, these are good examples to think twice before committing to pricey digital contents.
 
Nowadays, we will never own the digital content we have bought, we just borrow it and the digital content can be taken whenever they want..
It's just that we sometimes forget that the digital content we buy is not ours..
 
Nowadays, we will never own the digital content we have bought, we just borrow it and the digital content can be taken whenever they want..
It's just that we sometimes forget that the digital content we buy is not ours..

I wonder how they are taking away my DRM free games that I also have offline backups.

There are alternatives but some people are either too lazy or stupid to use them.
 
Years ago, I had a rule. No more then $15 for any product that requires online DRM, as you are "renting" those products. You dont own them.

that has come to encompass almost everything. I will buy blu rays of movies or TV shows I like, which is easy since most suck these days. The number of games I have bought for over $20 can be counted on one hand. This, of course, does not count my GoG library, which has over a hundred games bought at full price.

"you will own nothing, and you will be happy" needs a second line. "You will rent everything, and you will be poor".
 
Sony will claim there was fine print somewhere, but it sounds like they made consumers think they were buying a perpetual digital license when in fact Sony did not actually have a perpetual license to sell them. Sounds like fraud to me. Sony should be made to provide the perpetual digital license at their expense, whatever that may be.
 
Just another reason to pirate.
You could "buy" a movie from "Insert Movie Studio Name" and then download a Pirated DRM-Free version to ensure you keep it...But that is still considered illegal.
 
Laws need to be passed that your purchased digital content is perpetual. If a company loses licensing rights with the content owner then the owner needs to give you access "somewhere else" or from the content owner directly. This is absolutely scandalous. I bet most people. do not realize "what" they are actually purchasing which is a temporary license that may be revoked at any time for any reason. That disclaimer should be MANDATORY in plain english next to the "RENT" button
 
"Editor's take: Sony unilaterally removing paid-for content is bound to reignite the argument for piracy – specifically to protect from unfair digital media seizures. While I cannot condone piracy, I can understand this frustration. Companies need to seriously reconsider how they implement licensing if they can arbitrarily take away content purchased on top of their subscriptions. Discontinuing the "Buy" button or allowing offline downloading would be a start."

Sony opened the door to piracy when they decided to pirate from the virtual library without refunding the money. If you've already paid for the license to view, then it's not even piracy. This is why anything I want access to in perpetuity, I get a hard copy of. I have hard copies of any movies, shows, and games. The only thing I still accept digital copies of are games and most of those are ones I don't touch again after the initial playthrough (most new games aren't something I plan to revisit), so I'm not concerned if I ever lose access.
 
I bet if these media conglomerates on their streaming services started offering DRM free unmolested mp4 digital downloads and sell their movies and shows at a reasonable price, people would buy that up. For instance a recent Sony movie, The Equalizer 3... $12.99 for DRM free MP4, yes I would buy that and keep it on my NAS. I might copy it to my laptop to watch it when I'm on a flight. I can make a backup copy and not worry about losing access to it. Yes, I would pay for that. Would you?

In theory it should be cheaper for them to sell DRM free files of their movies and TV shows than hosting a streaming service, but most customers will only need to download it once. Where streamers will often watch the same video two or even more times. That is a lot of bandwidth being wasted.
 
You can't condone piracy but I can. Go for it!

Especially in this case. You paid for it, Sony got your money and Discovery got their cut too, feel free to download a copy of the content that you after all paid for and hold on to it.

There've been a few cases in the past where items were pulled from a site, BUT those who already paid for it could continue to download it. I'm sure Sony could have arranged for this. But as one of the big entertainment companies themselves, I'm sure when they "loan" their content out to other streaming and video services, they want to be able to get theirs (get paid when people "buy" content then be able to yank it a few months later.)
 
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Just another reason to pirate.
You could "buy" a movie from "Insert Movie Studio Name" and then download a Pirated DRM-Free version to ensure you keep it...But that is still considered illegal.
At least here in the states, it's not. The pirate site is performing the illegal action of distributing a copy of the video, the user is not. Grabbing a stream, I'm not distributing it to anyone. Where people run into problems is with torrents, the bittorrent software is distributing little bits of whatever you're downloading to other torrent users, at which point it's deemed to be distributing little bits of video, making copies bit-by-bit for other users.
 
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