The Sony Video Store on the PlayStation Network is filled with a good selection of movies, and you can't beat the convenience of renting or even buying movies from your couch and watching them on your big screen with your PlayStation 3.
Renting movies is a joy on the system, although it would be nice to have longer than 24 hours to watch the content, but what happens when you buy a movie? As one Ars reader found out, and Sony confirmed for us, you have to be careful about what happens to your system once it's filled with video content: you have one download, one redownload, and that's it.
Noise, a forum-goer, sent out a warning after he deleted some video content to make room on his hard drive and then found he couldn't redownload the content. The PlayStation 3 support page is perfectly clear on this matter. "Purchased content can be downloaded to a single PLAYSTATION 3 or a single PSP system," it reads. "Content cannot be redownloaded once it has been downloaded to either a PLAYSTATION 3 or PSP system."
You're allowed to keep the content on one system, and you can move it to up to three PSP systems, but if you have to delete the content for any reason, it's gone? Sort of. Lincoln Davis, who handles media relations for the PlayStation Network, told Ars that you are in fact allowed one extra download, but you have to contact Sony.
"If a consumer deletes a purchased movie from their PS3, they will not be able to redownload the movie without assistance from SCEA's consumer services," he told Ars. "Consumer service can issue a redownload as a one-time courtesy, as provided by our guidelines, for the title to allow the consumer to go back and download the movie from their PSN download list."
That helps Noise, who can now get his content back-once-but it's important that PS3 owners realize just how ephemeral the bought content is. This isn't like the issue of Spore DRM where customer service seems to be willing to hand out new codes like they're candy; Sony is very clear that you can only redownload your content once after it has been purchased.
When we're discussing a system that seems to release new hardware configurations every few months and a company that actively encourages you to swap hard drives yourself, it appears users are going to run into problems if they ever decide they want to switch out their hard drive or even upgrade into a larger system; the information on the back-up utility makes it clear that video content can't be moved over to new system, although new hard drives should be safe. Sony claims that the PS3 is operating on a 10-year timeline: is one extra download, which you need to contact customer service to apply for, good enough for the next decade?
It's hard to know if this limit is Sony's doing, or if content providers have demanded this level of DRM on the movies sold through Sony's online service. Nonetheless, this could cause customers to be very cautious with their hardware or space managements; no one would dare free up the space knowing that after the one redownload their purchase is gone forever. It's also unknown what will happen with these files when you purchase a PS4-if you'd like to look that far into the future.
Sony's policy is a sobering reminder that DRM can turn your purchases into rentals at anytime, with Sony and the content providers tightly holding onto the key. More PlayStation 3 News...