The OHSHI heard ’round the world: Sony announces no copy protection on PlayTV

Much to my own chagrin I really can’t help viewing the competition between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to make their respective consoles the most popular as anything but a war; a naval war in fact, complete with epic warships and ragged flags flying from the mast. It is in this imaginary war of mine that Sony, with the announcement of details regarding their PlayTV service, has possibly dealt a crushing blow to their enemies.

We all knew that Sony had some kind of set-top service in the works, but considering the disappointment that is Microsoft’s set-top system and the current state of intellectual property and copyright law, it would have been a reasonable assumption to make that Sony’s set-top system would suck right alongside Microsoft’s. It appears that Sony may have been misjudged.  

A recent demonstration of the PlayTV service revealed that not only will it allow you to record and store media from your TV, but that this media (saved in a standardized format) will have no copy-protection whatsoever, granting users the ability to move content as they see fit without instituting a time limit in which the media must be watched.  Granted, this kind of thing is already possible with TV tuners, but none of the producers of those peripherals has had the publicity that PlayTV will almost certainly get by dint of being associated with the PS3 and Sony.

The demonstrator of Sony’s soon-to-be set-top, Mark Bunting, echoed the sentiments of opponents of copy-protection the world over when asked about the potential legal ramifications of this service.

“We’ve talked to our legal department about it,” said Bunting. “All we’re doing is moving it out of PlayTV and to the cross-media bar as if it was any other recording. So hopefully users won’t do stuff they shouldn’t do with it.

“If I’m prohibited from getting the recording off and storing it somewhere else because some other dude is making money out of selling it, then I’d rather they brought the law in to catch those people,”

If PlayTV is all it’s cracked up to be (and the PS3 game library sees some rapid, quality growth) Sony stands to give Microsoft a serious run for its money, especially when you consider today’s announcement that Sony is releasing a Metal Gear Solid 4 80GB PS3 bundle. Even if the introduction of PlayTV doesn’t shake up the current console power structure, you can be sure that it will have some interesting effects on the current system of distributed digital media.


Qais Fulton