PlayStation Owners Are About To Lose Certain Movies They Bought, Here's Why

Most good things must come to an end — even if it was assumed that some of those things were more or less permanent. Not to speak in riddles needlessly, but many of us have grown up in a digital age or have adopted the convenience of it. Unfortunately, that convenience comes at a price and that price is impermanence. 

Case in point: those who previously purchased certain movies in the PlayStation Store are set to lose those movies in Germany and Austria. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg and it hints at a far bigger issue that users of digital media will need to contend with in the coming years.

Goodbye, Studiocanal movies in Germany and Austria

As reported by German site 4KFilme, PlayStation recently shared notices about the removal of Studiocanal films from the PlayStation Store library in select countries. Come September 1, any movies that were purchased connected to the studio will be removed from users' libraries, effectively erasing those purchases and turning them into longer-term rentals. A message shared by Sony to users in these countries reads as follows:

"As of August 31, 2022, due to our evolving licensing agreements with content providers, you will no longer be able to view your previously purchased Studio Canal content and it will be removed from your video library. We greatly appreciate your continued support."

It is worth pointing out that Studiocanal has a gigantic library of key titles dating back to the early '90s — "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz," "Paddington," "Free Willy," "Cliffhanger," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" "Mulholland Drive," and "Attack the Block," just to name but a few.

This is far from the end of it

Sony announced last year that the PlayStation Store would stop offering movie and TV rentals/purchases as of August 31, 2021, and the rise of streaming services was cited as the reason why at the time:

"At SIE, we strive to provide the best entertainment experience for PlayStation fans, and that means evolving our offerings as customer needs change. We've seen tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles. With this shift in customer behavior, we have decided to no longer offer movie and TV purchases and rentals through PlayStation Store."

The other important part though is that users would still be able to access purchased movies and TV shows through PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and mobile devices. It turns out that promise was only to be for a limited time. The reason is cited directly in that message shared with users in Germany and Austria. It all comes down to licensing and, unless Sony wants to continue to re-up licensing contacts with studios for these films when they are no longer in that business, this is going to keep happening.

A cautionary tale

For consumers, this should all serve as a cautionary tale. Sure, right now, it's only one studio's movies in Germany and Austria — but other licensing deals are going to expire and more movies will be removed from libraries. It doesn't stop here and, more importantly, this is not limited to PlayStation. Let us not forget that Apple can and has removed purchases from its libraries as well. Heck, this problem isn't even reserved to just movies and TV, it can extend to any form of digital media out there.

Music streaming services are just as vulnerable to this sort of thing. Artists can pull music from services at any time and, more importantly, those services only exist for as long as the company exists. If Spotify ever were to go under, say goodbye to all of your playlists. This is a wider digital media problem. Movies, TV, books, music — all of it is vulnerable. So, first and foremost, understand that making a purchase in the digital realm is not the same as doing so in the physical realm. It's a glorified long-term rental that can be taken away at a moment's notice. Period.

Granted, not everyone wants to bury themselves in a tomb of CDs, comic books, and Blu-rays like I'm bound to do, but this does firm up the continued importance of physical media in the modern age. Sure, digital is convenient and not using it at all would be silly. But if something is extremely important to you, be it a movie or any other form of media, maybe consider not only having a digital copy, as that is not remotely permanent.