I began this blog three years ago in November. One of the earliest things I wrote about was Sony’s internal conflict between its content-producing divisions and its hardware-producing divisions. I like Sony hardware, by and large. However, I’ve decided that until Sony can get its corporate head on straight about intellectual property issues, future purchases of any Sony product have come to an end for our household. No music CDs. No DVDs of Sony Pictures releases. No Sony hardware of any kind: I’ve purchased my last Playstation 2 game, and I will not be buying the Playstation 3. The only exceptions: if there’s a Sony-produced film that I really want to see, I’ll rent it or see it theatrically, but that’s it. If there’s a Sony Online Entertainment produced massively-multiplayer game that I feel compelled to study for my academic interests, I’ll look at it for as long as I must, but no longer: I will not subscribe to such a game for my own pleasure.
Sony’s approach to these issues is flatly pathological. I said it back in January 2003 and I’ll say it again. I’m their dream customer: I have disposable income, I buy a lot of books, CDs, DVDs. I have never used a P2P network to download anything in my life. I am deeply offended by piracy of any kind. I have a large library of purchased CDs which I rip to my own computer and that’s all: I don’t share that music with anyone. If my music purchases have slowed to a crawl, it’s because I have as much music as I want, frankly, and I don’t care for a lot of contemporary acts. I’ll still buy if I want a song or artist; I will never download music for which I have not paid.
Sony has driven me out of the market for their products: they’re trying to make it prohibitively difficult to listen to music the way I want to listen to it. And nobody, nobody who wants to sell me something I intend to use on my computer had better be messing with rootkits. I have enough of a headache now with spyware and malware to be courting an even bigger headache, especially from a company that doesn’t seem to understand that the problem isn’t with a bad implementation of copy protection but with their entire philosophy of copy protection.
So this is the end. Good job, Sony. Who is it you’re protecting your content for, anyway? The last stupid customer on Earth who doesn’t mind your retrograde policies, who is willing to pay high prices for what amount to short-term rentals of your content while accepting your incompetent technical sabotage of expensive home media technology? There are a lot of messed-up companies in the culture industry, but Sony is King Screwup. It may be beyond fixing by any leadership: there is obviously a problem within the company that encompasses both root and branch.