As a professional developer, and as a homebrew coder, I am strongly against video games piracy, and digital piracy in a general way. Well, it doesn’t mean I never downloaded illegally, let’s be honest here, I’ve been a student too. But now that I have a salary, I tend to buy more and pirate much, much less.
There’s still a problem with the current legal offer though: Movies.
As a foreigner in Japan, it is very difficult to get access to non-japanese movies. Let’s give an example: I got Wall-E on DVD (ordered from the UK) 1 month before it was out in theaters here. It is not a problem with Japan. It is a problem with wanting to watch movies in a country that is not yours. Don’t get me started on how difficult it would be for me to watch French movies without the minority of sites that try to fix this (luckily Amazon ships worldwide, if you’re ready to pay the shipping). And don’t get me started on Christine Albanel either, that’s not the point of this article, although it is completely related.
Oh, sorry, I’m stupid, I didn’t know standard browsers don’t work on your futuristic website
Anyways, the other day I decided to try and rent a movie from the Playstation store. My goal was to rent the Disney movie “Bolt”. If you go to the US playstation store , you’ll see in the “movies” section (bottom of the page) a bunch of titles available for Rent, for the PS3 or the PSP. Here’s the example for Bolt:
The first thing that surprised me was that there is no “Buy” or “Rent” button on the page. I first tought I needed to log-in (which I did), or maybe I needed to “activate” my PSP from my user account (which I did) to be recognized as a “legit” psp owner… but it didn’t change anything. At the bottom of the page, a “Where to buy” button redirects the user to… Amazon! What? That’s certainly not what they meant…
A few hours spent on the “Knowledge center” (a marketing name for what human beings call a FAQ), and an email to the Customer service brings me the solution:
Thank you for writing us about your issue. You have to actually go to the Playstation Store on your PSP(R) portable entertainment system to make purchases.
Ok…right… how about you clearly say that somewhere on the page, for example, in red letters where the BUY button should be? Goddammit…
IPism (Sorry sir, please use that other server, the one for people of your kind.)
Anyways, I was motivated in my quest for honesty, so I followed the instructions and went to the playstation store with my PSP. I will not talk about the issues I had to connect (you can only have one PSN account on the PSP, and unfortunately I already had a European one – did I mention I’m a European guy living in Japan with a strong interest in American movies?), or the issues related to the fact that I run a custom Firmware on my PSP. So, not mentioning these issues, here I am, on the Playstation store, with a large selection of… games??? absolutley NO movie??? ***??? Where did Bolt go?
So let’s sum this up. I can see the movie is “available” on the PC store, but I can’t buy it from there, for god knows what stupid reason, and according to the customer service, I could buy it from my PSP, but it is nowhere to be found…
Hmmm, let’s email the customer service again, and ask why that is. Although, people who don’t live in the US probably already guessed the answer, ’cause it’s always the same stupid reason:
Thank you for writing to us about downloading your movie from the PlayStation(R)Network to your PSP(R) portable entertainment system.
Unfortunately, because you are using a Japanese IP Address to access the North American PlayStation®Store, you will not be able to purchase the content that you want such as the movie “Bolt”.
Oh, yeah, thank you. Well, that could be written somewhere on the main page as well. I knew that was the reason, but not everyone is as dedicated as I am, you know…
Gattaca – let’s fake my ADN to look like a WASP
Now there, Sony, don’t cry. You obviously don’t want me to buy your products, but I’m a nice guy, and I have access to a VPN. So I’ll even go through the trouble of installing your new Media Go application, fire it through the VPN, and, there it is, the Movie I’ve been trying to buy for 6 hours now:
On a different computer, the error is different. The PSP is recognized, but Media Go tells me I need to update it to use it with the PSP Store.
Oh, well, I guess I can’t have homebrews AND be a nice guy, now, can I ?
Sorry, Sony, the money’s not for you…
36 Hours were spent between the time I “wanted” to buy the movie, and the time I was finally able to buy it. And how did I buy it, do you ask? Well, on Amazon…
The industry is not ready
To be honest, Sony’s not entirely to blame: The guys at the Customer service were nice and answered quickly (and accurately) to my questions, it’s not their fault that some stupid businessmen are still stuck in the 19th century (seriously, the fact that these guys still believe people live in the country they were born makes me wonder about their level of education. They should burn in heck, next to the guys who came up with the great idea of “region locking” DVDs and blu rays…). Also, it’s not only Sony. I tried the other day to buy some MP3s from Amazon and got the same kind of problem. Note that at least the message on Amazon’s website is clear (“sorry, only for people who live in the US”). And finally, the fact that I’m on CFW doesn’t help much since I don’t want to upgrade.
But the real problem is the following: Pirate sites don’t ask me to be browsed with my PSP in order to download them. They don’t require me to give up on homebrews in order to watch a movie. They don’t require me to live in a specific country. They don’t prevent me from copying the movie on the device I want. The movie industry as a whole is one century late with their business model. There are people in this world who would be ready to pay for a quality service matching their needs. I’m one of them. I’m ready to pay for digital content. But apparently Sony and the others aren’t ready for me. I’ll come back in 10 years, to see if IPism (it’s close to racism, but with your IP address) and DRMS have become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, I’m back to Amazon’s DVDs, and for the things I can’t find on Amazon, I know some Pirates on some Bay…
See you in 10 years, Sony…
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