When Sony launched the video store service on the Playstation Network I took the time to fire up my PS3 and browse through the store to see what they were offering and how much it would cost, but I didn’t buy anything because I hadn’t taken the time to find out what the terms of service currently are. It goes without saying that any videos bought through the service would have some form of DRM on them and therefore would be limited in some way, but I didn’t know what those limitations were.
As it turns out they’re much more limited than I would have guessed. The folks at ArsTechnica.com lay out the rules:
Noise, a forum-goer, sent out a warning after he deleted some video content to make room on his hard drive and then found he couldn’t redownload the content. The PlayStation 3 support page is perfectly clear on this matter. “Purchased content can be downloaded to a single PLAYSTATION 3 or a single PSP system,” it reads. “Content cannot be redownloaded once it has been downloaded to either a PLAYSTATION 3 or PSP system.”
You’re allowed to keep the content on one system, and you can move it to up to three PSP systems, but if you have to delete the content for any reason, it’s gone? Sort of. Lincoln Davis, who handles media relations for the PlayStation Network, told Ars that you are in fact allowed one extra download, but you have to contact Sony. “If a consumer deletes a purchased movie from their PS3, they will not be able to redownload the movie without assistance from SCEA’s consumer services,” he told Ars. “Consumer service can issue a redownload as a one-time courtesy, as provided by our guidelines, for the title to allow the consumer to go back and download the movie from their PSN download list.”
This is especially restrictive when you consider that 1) some games can eat up a couple of gigs of hard drive space with installs so after a few games and some movie purchases you could be low on space, 2) early PS3 models had as small as a 20GB hard drive in them, 3) even though you can swap in a bigger hard drive yourself the backup utility on the PS3 will not move purchased video content over to the new drive, 4) there’s currently no way to get the video off of the PS3 hard drive and onto your PC, and 5) no one knows what happens with your purchased videos when the PS4 comes out. All in all that makes purchasing movies through the PS3 very unattractive, though renting might still be an option. Renting is a few bucks cheaper and gives you access to a movie for 24 hours after which it’s deleted from the hard drive.
I figure it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with a PC program that’ll read the PS3 hard drive format and/or allow you to backup all your data over the network. Then someone else will eventually break the DRM used on the video store files and perhaps then it’d be worth purchasing them through your PS3, but for the time being I’d recommend avoiding the temptation.