Yes you read the headline correctly. Sony, in a Friday afternoon bad news dump, notified users that video content from Discovery will be removed from the Playstation store and any purchases will also be removed from user libraries. This is yet another reminder that in this digital world we own nothing. See more in my latest video.
Unlike physical media, where ownership is tangible and enduring, digital purchases are ephemeral, often subject to the whims of content providers and platform policies. Even when “purchasing” media, users are merely purchasing a license giving them access to the content. The fine print of Sony’s licensing agreement says they can revoke the license any time they want for any reason.
“Unless as otherwise stated in this Agreement, SCEA, at its sole discretion, may indefinitely suspend, or discontinue any and all online access to content at any time, including for maintenance service or upgrades, without prior notice or liability.”
So how can we safeguard access to our media? One method involves the direct capture of content using software like OBS. While this process is time-consuming, it offers one avenue to preserve access to shows and movies that you’ve paid for. However, this solution isn’t without its drawbacks, primarily the effort and technical know-how required. And also it may violate the Digital Milenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which prohibits the circumvention of encryption protecting the content which is required to do a direct capture.
The best option of course is to purchase physical copies of movies and TV shows, whether on DVD or Blu-ray, which will remain accessible regardless of the changing digital landscape. Physical discs often include special features and additional content, enriching the viewing experience. Unfortunately, the market for physical media is declining, and not all content is available in this format.
Movies Anywhere is another alternative that helps spread the risk across multiple platforms. This service allows digital media purchased on one platform (like Amazon) to be made accessible on other platforms too. Most Blu-Rays now come with a “digital code” option that is often redeemable through Movies Anywhere.
Vudu also has an affordable solution called “Disc to Digital” that allows US consumers to scan the back of a DVD or Blu-Ray movie and have the film added to their digital library for under $5. The film gets added to the user’s Vudu library but the film will show up on other services through Movies Anywhere. I reviewed the service a few years ago.
Another option is the use of streaming service recorders like PlayOn (compensated affiliate link). This tool enables the recording of content from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, though it operates in a legal gray area and raises questions about compliance with service terms and the legality of retaining content after canceling a subscription to the service the content was recorded from.
Unfortunately this dust up with Sony and Discovery is only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect we will be hearing more stories about purchases of music, movies, TV shows and games disappearing from libraries in the coming years. And unfortunately there’s not much we can do about it given the terms of service that allow the companies to do it.