Boycott’s On

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.

This entry was posted in Miscellany. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Boycott’s On

  1. emschwar says:

    I too am Sony’s primary consumer target– young, well-off, technophile. I too have never downloaded any music illegally, and I don’t intend to. I have seriously been jonesing for a PS3, and have been looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 2 and Final Fantasy XII, but now I’m going to have to seriously think long and hard about them.

    The problem is, there aren’t a lot of choices here– let’s start with gaming, since you mentioned the PS3. What are my other options? A Windows PC or an Xbox360 are both from Microsoft, and carry the burden of that corporation’s historical laxity with security. The Nintendo Gamecube and/or Revolution? Very cool, but the GC has nowhere near the breadth and depth of PS2 games, and the Revolution is a great unknown– and anybody who thinks Nintendo wouldn’t become Sony if they could get away with it is deluding themselves.

    I have similar trouble with big-box store boycotts. Sure, I can boycott Wal-Mart, but my buddy who’s a former Army Ranger tells me Target is illegally firing reservists who are called up to active duty, so I can’t shop there either. Kohl’s doesn’t carry tools, Home Depot and Lowe’s don’t carry jeans (and each has its own boycott issues as well).

    Clearly, Sony is way out of line here. I will certainly boycott Sony Music artists, and I’ll probably boycott the PS3. But lately it seems like if I keep boycotting companies– for legitimate reasons to be sure– then I won’t end up being able to buy anything anywhere.

  2. Timothy Burke says:

    This is a really targeted gesture on my part. It’s about a single policy that is profoundly stupid which directly impacts the reason why and mode in which I consume the goods the company is offering. I agree that many companies do stupid and reprehensible things, and boycotting them all would leave you in a tough spot. If Sony can find a way through this to some less stupid way to implement their obsession with DRM, I’d give the boycott up while still being irritated with the company.

  3. Doug says:

    They seem to have dumped the malware CDs, or at least are claiming to in the press now. Though the more serious problem remains.

    Haven’t we seen all of this before? In fact with every wave of technology? I remember in particular all of the copy protection on early computer games. It didn’t work; it irritated people; and eventually the companies dropped it after shrinking their potential market quite effectively. Plus ça change.

  4. Endie says:

    Consumer-boycotting is something very much rarer in the UK than the US, at least after university, where the campaigns to shun companies like Nestle (each honoured far more in the breach than the observance) are commonplace. I wonder if that says anything at all about the perception of the political importance of acts of trade and consumption in each country?

    On another, only-vaguely-related matter (Sony divisions being the link), I am surprised you haven’t yet proclaimed your status as SWG redesign prophet, given the congruence between some of your posts on the old boards and areas of the redesign. I came across them while writing about the subject ( – about half a dozen paragraphs in)

  5. Timothy Burke says:

    I’m working on a SWG redesign post for Terra Nova. Let’s just say that they may have some ideas right, but the core problem with execution that has dogged that game from the outset is clearly still very much with them: they pushed a radical redesign to live with virtually no testing or preparation, it has tons of bugs and also just some very ill-thought out game-mechanical tweaks (the super-fast pacing of movement and combat sounds good on paper until you actually see it, play it and watch it stress the capabilities of their servers to hell and back).

  6. Endie says:

    I can’t help but agree on the astounding will-they-never-learn? decision to attempt to carry the game revision through at the run. I can see their reasoning (don’t haemorrhage customers over a 3-month beta cycle): it’s just mad reasoning, given the widespread perception of their QA.

    Anyway, will look forward to your post on TN.

  7. emschwar says:

    Anyone who follows this topic probably already reads slashdot, but for those who don’t, the new president of the RIAA thinks Sony handled this pretty well:

    That should just about seal the deal, I hope, on crappily-DRMed “CD”s.

Comments are closed.