Sony considered harmful to makers, innovators and hackers

Make magazine's Phil Torrone has had enough of Sony. Provoked by Sony's lawsuits and raids against makers who reverse engineered the Playstation 3, Phil has composed a top-seven list of Sony's most egregious and corrupt uses of the law to fight makers. Phil starts with Sony's legal threats against security researchers who discovered that Sony-BMG had deliberately (and illegally) infected millions of computers with a rootkit as part of a DRM scheme, and goes all the way through to the latest round of PS3 action. He finishes with the irony of ironies: Sony's eight-year fight for consumer rights when it introduced the Betamax VCR and was sued by the Hollywood studios -- an era when the company's slogan was "experience the freedom of total control."
In this article, we'll explore Sony's long history of going after legitimate innovation, hobbyists, and competition. Sony, we've been keeping score. We're tired of you picking on people who want to program their robot dogs to dance. We're tired of you suing people who want to run their own software on something they bought. Sony has made so many mistakes with technology choices (Memory Stick, Magic Gate, UMD!), perhaps they'll end themselves soon enough, but we'd like to think there's at least someone there would wants to avoid Sony spending its last days sending DMCAs to anyone who tweets "46DCEAD317FE45D80923EB97E4956410D4CDB2C2″.

I couldn't find one location that documented Sony's all-out war on makers, hackers, and innovators, so I started my own (and it isn't pretty). The talented artists, designers, and engineers who work at Sony deserve better, and their customers deserve better. Don't worry, I'm not just going to spank Sony. I'm going to give Sony some ideas to right this ship and also let them know it's time to reconsider suing George "geohot" Hotz, the Playstation 3 hacker Sony is dragging to court for unlocking his PS3 to run his own software on it.

Sony's War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators (Thanks, Gareth, via Submitterator!)


    1. And this will help by telling you *what* Sony is doing. For the market to do its part information must be available so tell your friends, and don’t buy Sony products.

    2. Adding to your post:

      For folks that want to be part of the funding for good films on Bluray (which is a good format, if you ignore the partly Sony-backed DRM) can still vote with their dollars for what matters (the movies, when in theatres, even if they don’t go to the theatre to watch it; say they buy enough tickets to match the price of a Bluray version, then just download the 1080p version later on, working around the bad parts of Sony, but paying for the good ones, because Sony’s not all bad, and neither is any other corporation). And actually, thinking ahead, if this pattern were popularized it’d force down the price of individual tickets for everyone (because the studios would be making enough money thanks to the enthusiasts that just buy extra tickets to fund the studios for more movies later on, and lower ticket prices would entice more movie goers to actually go to the theatre once in a while instead of only downloading movies; with the ticket prices lowered, the enthusiasts would actually have some serious control over which movies get produced, by only funding the good ones and never the bad, because they’d be the biggest funder of the movies, BUT NO FUCKING SPECULATIVE STOCKS OR ANY OF THAT BULLSHIT PLEASE!!!).

  1. It was their DRM and rootkits that crossed me. I don’t want to buy *anything* from them, ever again.

    1. Kinect hacking doesn’t give you the tools to negatively impact the gaming experience of millions of other players.

      Just saying…

      1. It’s implementing all your anti-cheating mechanisms on the client side that negatively impacts the gaming experience of millions of other players.

        If having an open system is the problem, why isn’t PC gaming ravaged by runaway cheating?

        1. Do you play PC games? PC games are regularly ruined by cheaters if the game doesn’t have good community management and anti-cheating. PC game makers have to budget in large amounts of money for this, which is something console game makers usually don’t generally have to do.

          While I think what Sony’s doing is pretty much awful, I’m a little ambivalent about the idea of having a TPM-style trusted hardware sandbox, it does have some advantages for gamers and game makers.

  2. Sony has lost my dollars when they introduced the minidisc player which was the worst locked down player ever. It had huuuge potential if it was more open…but nooooo lets make it so no one can be using it as they see it fit….

    1. Indeed, boingaddict, it was also the MiniDisc players that were the absolute last straw. A cassette-tape player had more features, because it included a radio. You would still have to play music on some other device, and put the MiniDisc player into record. This, in the day when MP3 players and iPods are started being really cheap. It seems that at Sony, one team is charged with making really neat products, which are handed to another team, which makes the products not able to be used. Sony makes products that are intended to be *sold*, and no longer makes products intended to be *used*.

  3. A few years ago I adopted a simple policy WRT Sony – I stopped buying their products. Previously I bought a Sony PS1, PS2 and Sony Reader.

  4. Easy fix: Don’t buy Sony electronic products.

    And it’s not like Sony markets any OMGWTFBBQ gottahavit gadgets; at least not since the original Walkman. I’ll buy Sony media such as CD’s and DVD’s, but I haven’t bought any Sony electronics in over 20 years.

    1. And it’s not like Sony markets any OMGWTFBBQ gottahavit gadgets; at least not since the original Walkman.

      Trinitron CRTs were still the finest displays well into the LCD era. I’m still spewing they never made a 16:9 CRT monitor…

      Oh, and Gran Turismo made the PS a must-have. Also, the dual-shock controller was a mighty fine design, pretty much defining the template for a proper gamepad.

      But yeah, Sony have well and truly lost their way… my VAIO lappy (a gift) is pretty much inferior in every way (except maybe a veneer of Apple-esque hardware slickness – at the cost of weight) to say, a Toshiba. Having established a rep for fine gear, they seem to have been content to rest on their laurels for much of the last 25 years.

  5. I was a big Sony fan back in the day, but they lost my family when we noticed how proprietary they are with *everything*, right down to their memory sticks. Now, it’s Sony – FTL!

  6. I was an enormous Sony fan through the PS2, good games, good cameras, nice TV’s. The PSP was unimaginitive and despite a new operating system update in every game I ever bought, never really developed and cheap fun downloads. Hell, loading a video on it was like an intro to programming class. They could have developed a real alternative to itunes, but no. I bought a PS3 but it mostly just plays blu-rays once a month and collects dust. When I do get a game, its beautiful graphics make me wonder if I could get rid of my xbox with the next RROD. but my answer is always no. Sony is unimaginative, harder and harder to use and really up there with Blockbuster video, Circuit city, and GM in the top ten moronic companies of the last decade.

    They could fix it all, very quickly, but they will probably only make it worse.

    “Don’t like what Sony’s doing, then vote with your dollars.”

    I think apple and xbox would tell you, that has already happened.

  7. One of those rootkit CDs was the last piece of physical media I ever bought. Never noticed it before. Go figure.

  8. I haven’t sent Sony a cent since the rootkit fiasco. I actively go out of my way to make sure they don’t get anything.

    This includes no Blue-ray. Nadda.

    Sony can get stuffed.

  9. I worked as a salesman at one time and in our store we sold Sony products. What pissed me off was that we couldn’t print the prices of anything and customers had to call up to ask the price. I was working commission and this was such a waste of my time it wasn’t funny.

    That, and that Sony haven’t brought out anything interesting or innovative since the Walkman.

  10. What I find funny is that the PS3 was the only console that had Linux and had legitimate way for homebrew capabilities on it. We certainly couldn’t expect Linux on a Xbox or Wii.

    It was only when the system was hacked by Geohot that Linux was removed. And as expected we saw a Chinese pirates selling USB dongles to hack the PS3 to play pirate games using Geohot’s hack.

    The great hypocrisy is that no real homebrews of note was made when it was legitimate on the PS3. Hackers hacked a system that had Linux, had legal homebrew, and basically were the ones who had it removed.

    Note that Sony never hacked PS1, PS2, and PSP hackers even though those systems were more compromised than the PS3. Now PS3 games are rampant with cheaters and hackers that ruin the online experience for everyone else.

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