Sony’s media content policy: “if you buy it, you own it”

Friday, 14th June 2013 18:10 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

President and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, Andrew House, believes there is an “increasing nervousness” about what ownership of media content implies, but Sony is of philosophy that “if you buy it, you own it.”

Speaking with Yahoo Games during E3, House said he doesn’t think that the hoopla surrounding the concept of ownership of late is “a storm in a teacup,” instead he said Sony takes such things very seriously.

“You could argue that it’s a storm in a teacup – a very vocal minority of passionate gamers,” said House. “This huge outpouring of feeling around the concept of ownership of content. But I have to say I don’t see it that way.

“I think we saw a lightning rod for feeling that has been bubbling up – that doesn’t just apply to games, but to entertainment overall. I think there’s an increasing nervousness about what ownership of content means, in the absence of physical goods. When that nervousness was starting to migrate into control over physical goods that consumers have purchased, that was a bridge too far.

“I want to be very clear about where we have been on this issue: I think there’s a danger that we could be seen to have reacted and capitalized on a situation. When we first announced PS4 in February, people were saying, ‘Oh, Sony’s being coy’ – almost with some implicit suspicion.

“It struck us as very odd. We had no intention of changing our position – it hasn’t changed from what it’s been for the last fifteen years. We believe that if you buy it, you own it, you’re able to do with it what you want.”

House said the firm wanted to focus on the core gamer because they are “extremely influential, passionate consumers” even beyond gaming and into other forms of entertainment. However, the Sony and House especially are very “vocal” when it comes the independent game developer – a group which the industry “absolutely needs” to counterbalance the “Hollywood blockbuster” trend in gaming.

“I am very vocal on the topic of indie games,” he said. “The industry has an increasing reliance on high-end, high-production-values games – the equivalent of Hollywood blockbuster game franchises. A creative entertainment industry absolutely needs a counterbalance to that, the equivalent of arthouse cinema – the creative, the different, the new. Our goal is to have PlayStation be the best place to foster that.”

House also hoped the online component of gaming can lead to more than just competitive multiplayer matches or co-op with friends, but “connecting players through other forms of activity: that are more altruistic.

“I appreciate that this is a bit fluffy and ‘nice’ but I think it’s a good goal to have,” he said. “Networks and gameplay could be a bit more than headshots and trash talk – although, of course, that’s all very well for those that enjoy it… my son included.”

PS4 is slated for release this holiday season.



  1. penniman

    You can say that again when I attempt to mod my game..

    #1 2 years ago
  2. CyberMarco

    Gotta love Sony’s trolling… :D

    #2 2 years ago
  3. hitnrun

    However laudable and righteous, this is obviously, observably wrong. Just look at the success of Steam and Free to Play.

    However, there’s a caveat, as Microsoft is about to discover: if I buy it, and I don’t own it, it had better be cheap.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. SplatteredHouse

    “Now we’re going to be like ‘Look, they own it, they bought the disc and it’s theirs. They have a legitimate right for not doing anything illegal.’” Gibeau continued,”

    Just posting that here, because of its similarity to what Sony are saying.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. polygem


    “if I buy it, and I don’t own it, it had better be cheap.”

    exactly. that´s the basic point ms missed in their logic.

    wow. it´s so easy now for sony to look irresistably good. they just have to say the simplest things like: “if you buy it – you own it” and they look like the white knights of gaming…

    well i cannot blame them for celebrating the moment.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Kanok

    You’re god damn right!!!!

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Cobra951

    If you don’t own it, then you didn’t buy it. Rental, licensing and other such words come to mind. Sony is only reaffirming a basic truth, one which others have trampled on.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. aprotosis

    Unless of course you bought it off the PSN. Then you don’t own it, they do. You can’t trade or sell that content.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Joe Musashi

    I’ll be ready to believe that sentiment when I read it in the software they sell rather than as a soundbite from an interview. But this is a very interesting development. It will be interesting if this is a view of just Sony’s content, or of all the content they licence – including their third parties.


    #9 2 years ago
  10. Sylrissa

    “if you buy it, you own it”

    The fact that he even has to say this is ridiculous , Sony is winning the PR simply by doing nothing special and just coming out and saying “hey guys, we’re not treating our customers like idiots and pirates”

    Every game I own on steam I got for $10 or less, so I only got into digital for the cheap sales, day 1 full price games I still only buy disc based.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Francis O

    I thought we don’t own the games we buy Joe?

    Seems like Sony and Nintendo think differently.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. monkeygourmet


    And this is what I was talking about. It isn’t as black and white as you were making out. Even the big companies can’t get their shit together on this subject.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Joe Musashi

    Depends precisely what it is they reckon it is that you are buying. And knowing what you’re actually buying has always been the root of the issue. Not that your responses ever acknowledge that significant detail. I’ll bet you’ve still not chosen to read any of the licences that you have to hand.

    If, as implied, this has ‘always’ been their stance then it means nothing has changed. Which means you’re still buying a software licence, not software.

    Eager assumptions will take this soundbite and interpret it to suit them. The devil will be in the details.

    @12 And I referred you and others to the current status on things as written by an interactive entertainment lawyer in April of this year. But few people cared for recent factual information that conflicted with their personal view.


    #13 2 years ago
  14. Christopher Jack

    @11, We on the disk, we don’t own the content however many of us view both it as a single purchase- the disk is the game, & MS is attempting to tread on that in many of our minds.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. warchild434

    yeah… about that.. we own it huh?? we can do with it whatever we like (except you must pay us to play most of the immersive online games on PS4)

    see what i did there.. Sony did that at E3 this year.. in the midst of good news and your excitement i completely snuck in the mention of having to pay for online gaming.. and then quickly announce the next bit of good news the cheaper $399 price point..

    i know that so far the PS4 is the best choice for gamers.. but not without faults.. to me and alot of people we see paying for online access for your games just as big a deal as the XBOX ONE’s used games and DRM crap..

    Paying for online gaming is a restriction.. i guess Sony over looked that ONE!!!

    #15 2 years ago
  16. monkeygourmet


    Your right, the devil is in the details. And as I said before, if those details mean jack shit to people en masse and aren’t enforced in anyway, is it even important in the long run?

    Sony will clearly win the public view on this based on simple gestures.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Joe Musashi

    That “rights don’t exist if nobody enforces them” nonsense doesn’t give you licence to do as you please. That thinking is pure self-centred greed.


    #17 2 years ago
  18. monkeygourmet


    I think you’ll find the companies would be seen as greedy if these kind of laws were enforced… Hence why none of them have ever taken anyone to court for loaning or renting games.

    Piracy, is obviously a different issue.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Joe Musashi

    I already agreed with you about being seen as greedy if enforced. That makes zero difference to the position of the rights-holder. As I’ve always maintained, this kerfuffle is not about rights being changed or taken away. It is about rights being enforced. Welcome to closed-platform gaming.


    #19 2 years ago
  20. monkeygourmet


    Fair enough.

    I’m just most interested to see what happens after all the mud flinging has stopped.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Malmer

    Then I assume they will allow me to resell my digitally downloaded copy of Killzone however I please…ah, didn’t think so. Which is fine with me. If the price is lower or same as retail I prefer the convenience. But don’t come pretending it is something it isn’t.

    (Now that I think of it. Can’t wait to play Killzone: Shadow Fall!!!)

    #21 2 years ago
  22. JB

    It shouldn`t come as a surprise and it shouldn`t be something that needed clarification at all.

    If you buy it, you own it and you decide what to do with it, whether it´s a license or a physical example, if it`s the music industry, the movie industry, the games industry or whatever industry. Digital is no fucking exception to this basic concept of trade.

    If you rent or loan something you don`t pay premium price – period.

    Not difficult to grasp.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. stockops3

    People are saying `sony just won because of this PR.` Sony never intended to block used games, its because of the fucking Microsoft they needed to put it through their thick skulls and people are saying its nothing special!? Yeah it ish t but m$ royal fucked up there PR so Sony are making sure gamers KNOW that they don’t encourage this kind of bullshit.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Citrus raptor

    I think it’s a conspiracy… Without commenting on whether their plolicies are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, MS has handled the situaion so unbelievably clumsy, it makes me think that it was done on purpose. They can’t actually have though that people would understand their rules, systems, and policies, the way they’ve gone about revealing them, can they? It’s as if they’re deliberately vague in the hopes that they won’t be questioned.

    It almost makes me think that MS and Sony are in on it together, to strenghen Sony’s possition in this gen, cause of how bad their economy has become (PS3 not having gathered enough revenue despite good sales, having to shut down divisions and stores, etc). Everything so that Sony remains in the console business and hinders companies such as Apple, Samsung, or even Valve, to get a foot in. Which would make the industry much more risky and unpredictable. O_O

    It’s not only the Kinect-will-take-over-the-world clowns that have made the tinfoil market boom lately…

    /joke …

    #24 2 years ago
  25. ps3fanboy

    that’s right sony we own what we buy… now suck it up mickey$oft and get outta the way for a company that care about gamers and games…

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Lengendaryboss

    Hmmm looks like i missed the “owned it” party.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. OwningXylophone

    “We believe that if you buy it, you own it, you’re able to do with it what you want.”

    *pulls out GT5 disc*
    *Reads text PRINTED ON THE DISC!*

    Definition of EXPRESSLY AUTHORISED (from
    “Actual, distinctly stated (not implied) specific, authority given by a delegator or principal to his or her delegatee or agent, through oral or written, or partly-oral and partly-written, words.”

    Huh, guess we can’t “do with it what you want”. As ChristopherJack said, we have ever only owned the disc and had a license to use the software contained upon it. This it just more PR spin.

    *EDIT: Damn spellcheck!

    #27 2 years ago
  28. laughing-gravy

    I work hard for my money and when I buy something I expect to own it. There is nothing unreasonable about that. Sony will have my custom next gen.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. laughing-gravy

    Also beware astroturfers.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. monkeygourmet


    Has anyone EVER been convicted for that though?

    What MS are doing is finally making this ‘law’ more enforceable. Not by coming to your house and arresting you, but by ‘digitally’ strangling your options.


    But I agree, Sony are best of a bad bunch with this.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. OwningXylophone


    I assume that is aimed at me? Try harder! I have been commenting on and off here for years, as stated in the “Which next-gen console are you buying” post, I have both on pre-order right now as I haven’t decided which side of the fence to fall yet. I just see Sony (obviously) trying to get some free PR on this with half-truths and I’m calling them out on it.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. NeutralBlade

    Sony is basically saying that the policies from current gen and before, are still in place. Yet, some still attempt to find reasons to criticize Sony, instead of directing that same criticism towards the company that’s actually enforcing restrictive DRM on its console.

    Current policies are sufficient, and the majority of PS4 titles will be available on disk; so you can buy it and it’s yours, as they say. People hoping there is a catch to Sony’s claims, are only setting themselves up for disappointment.

    There isn’t a system similar to Azure on the PS4, and that’s all to it; end of story. I’m sorry that MS have let you all down, but it’s up to you to vote with your wallet. If Xbox risk takers and loyalists make the Xbone a success, MS will in return press forward with their Azure agenda. Corporations like Microsoft understand the loss of profits, a lot more than any complaining consumers can do.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Tridenter

    Clearly, he didn’t finish his sentence… what he meant to say was, “We believe that if you buy it, you own it, you’re able to do with it what you want… unless it’s a PlayStation 3, in which case if you do what you want with it, we’ll just sue you and try to demand that you are forbidden access to our products for the rest of your life.”

    #33 2 years ago
  34. NocturnalB

    I love this man for saying that, but I think I’ll wait and see how his sentiments translate into policy. Every since XB1 happened I like to view everything said by every talking head (hey that rhymed!) the same way i viewed the rumor mill for so long, too good to be true or bullshit until proven.

    Don’t get me wrong though! At this point as far as consoles go I am sold on PS4, it’s going to feel strange(ish. I do borrow my brother’s PS3 from time to time) considering I was on the 360 this whole generation. The final straw I am currently waiting for is to get my hands on that DS4 controller, a hug draw to Xbox for me has always been the bulky controllers as I have massive hands.

    But that’s definitely how I and I’m sure a lot of other people all over the world feel, if I buy it, I own it.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. yeoung


    Be that as it may, a purchased physical object holds no authoritative power over any individual. As such, the product in question, GT5, has no means to deter resale or rent. No legally binding contract is formed simply by access of on-disc content unless agreed upon prior to the transaction, therefore compliance isn’t lawfully mandated.

    In short, it’s just some words on a disc. No more.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Khanivor

    If what he claimed was really the case then perhaps he should insist his company remove certain items form the EULA for Sony games. Such as

    SONY does not warrant that the software, network services or products will continue to be available, or will operate without interruption or modification.
    Termination. Without prejudice to any other rights, SONY may terminate this LICENSE if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this LICENSE or applicable laws, rules or regulations. In such event, you must stop using the SOFTWARE and destroy and/or erase all SOFTWARE and all copies and all component parts thereof within two (2) weeks from such termination and if so requested provide SONY with proof of such destruction and/or erasure.

    So if I own something I must destroy it if I use it in a manner not approved of by Sony? Doesn’t gel man, doesn’t gel.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. laughing-gravy

    I didn’t point the finger at anyone. So why do you feel the need to be defensive?

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Maabren

    At least better than MS. But many trolls don’t get that.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Templar_Dante

    I used this example on gaf.
    A painting. An artist may paint and sell it.
    An art collector buys it.
    The rights of the art collector to own it are limited to the fact that the idea it portrays is not his. He is still the owner of the painting. Thats how games have always been. Thats how it needs to stay.

    #39 2 years ago

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