Sony is removing access to hundreds of movies and TV shows on its PlayStation Store service next month, meaning users that previously paid for titles such as Paddington and The Hunger Games will no longer be able to watch them. The shutdown affects users in Germany and Austria, according to legal notices posted on the two regional sites, and covers films produced by StudioCanal.
The shutdown will come into force on August 31st, exactly one year after Sony discontinued movie and TV show purchases through its digital store. At the time Sony said that its customers will still be able to access previously purchased content. Notices posted on the PlayStation website blame “evolving license agreements with content providers” (via machine translation) for the change, and say that purchased content will be removed from customers’ video libraries.
According to Variety, the change affects 314 titles in Germany and 137 in Austria. Affected titles include Chicken Run, John Wick, La La Land, Logan Lucky, Saw, Shaun the Sheep Movie, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s unclear whether refunds will be offered to affected customers.
While we’ve gotten used to the idea that TV shows and films can disappear from streaming services over time, leaving them inaccessible to subscribers, it’s much rarer to see it happen on services that let you buy titles to own digitally. That’s not to say it’s unheard of; when Flixster Video shut down Pocket-Lint reported that some titles weren’t compatible with the Google Play migration process that was meant to allow UK customers to continue to have access to them. Apple’s use of the word “buy” for digital titles that it reserves the right to revoke access to has even been challenged legally in the past.
The shutdown serves as a crucial reminder that even when you “buy” a title digitally, your ownership often still relies on a retailer continuing to exist, and having the correct licensing deals in place. If you want to guarantee ownership forever, then physical purchases are still your best bet — although not always.