I haven't thought this through fully, but I better put something down before I forget. I want to investigate it further. This deals with the apparent contradiction between the physical copy of a software (the actual program in the user's possession) and the user's license to use said software.
The following excerpts are from Sony PSN's new Terms of Service and User Agreement (accessed on my PSP while entering the Playstation Store on Sep 29, 011:
"You are solely responsible if you do not choose to download or access the content before it is removed and for ongoing storage and safekeeping of the content. SNEI is not obligated to provide you with replacement copies for any reason." (Section 6, Paragraph 4)
"Except as stated in this Agreement, all content and software provided through Sony Online Services are licensed non-exclusively and revocably to you... solely for Your personal, private, non-tranferable, non-commercial, limited use on a limited number of Authorized Devices in the country in which your account is registered." (Section 7, Paragraph 1)
"Your compliance with all of the following are express conditions of Your license to use or access the Property. You may not sell, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, modify, adapt, arrange, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble any portion of the Property... Property is not licensed to you for resale, public performance, display, distribution or broadcast." (Section 7, Paragraph 2)
Of course, all transactions with and all payments to SNEI are final and non-refundable, as specified at several places in the agreement. Also note here that "Property" refers to any and all components of Sony's software and hardware.
I have some questions about the situation:
1. What exactly am I paying for when I make a purchase from Sony? Am I paying for 1 digital copy of the software? Obviously if I can't get another copy from Sony, I can't get it again since I am not permitted to make reproductions of the "Property" and no one else is legally permitted to distribute it. Am I paying for a license to use the said software? Or am I paying for one digital copy and limited use of that 1 copy? I consider a single copy of software a physical item. Is it even legal to sell a product, or "Property" in this case, restricted by both one physical copy and limited license?
2. What is the length of the license that I purchase from Sony? Is it up to the end of my natural life? A specified amount of time? Or whatever Sony decides, which in theory could be anything from days to years? This ties closely to my first question. The answer could be for as long as I have my one copy of the "Property." If that were the case, how is one copy of the "Property" different from, say my textbook or my car? Why then are they not licensed?
I think this issue first came to the limelight during the turn of the Millennium during the drafting of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It was a huge deal in those days. I was too young to care about it then, but even I heard of it. Speaking of the DMCA, I think I should give it a read and then make it a part of my legal studies. Some parts of it may be out of date. In those days, the idea of distribution gigabytes of data to individual users millions of times a day was absurd. Now, many whole games are not only distributable online but are distributed exclusively online. The physical media is fading, and provisions in the DMCA that worked well then may no longer adequately protect consumers in the digital age.
Finally,I have a tangential question that I just found interesting: