Sony is indirectly funding Anonymous thanks to its current "Never Stop Playing" commercial for the new PlayStation Vita. Visually there aren't any references to the hactivist group, and the background song doesn't mention Anonymous and their various causes either... at least, not in the way Sony uses the song.
So what gives? What does the commercial have to do with Anonymous? It goes way back to 1999 when Sony used a song by Alex Empire of Atari Teenage Riot in a Handycam commercial without his permission.
"I felt used, exploited, ripped off…everything that a sensitive artist like myself would feel in that situation… haha (I hope you know I am kidding here….but I have to admit it hurt a little)," he writes in a blog. "If you ever tried to fight a corporation like this in court AND in another country, let me tell you…you want to do other stuff with that time and money."
The two parties eventually came to an agreement in court, but Empire never felt they paid what they owed. What’s a song worth? he started to ask. When does copyright start, when does it end?
"Around the same time I came to the conclusion that men with guns employed by the government can’t and won’t protect me from situations like this in the future," he writes.
So when Sony asked Empire for a song to be used in the new PS Vita ad, he immediately suggested the track "Black Flags." The company loved the "hectic" sound and gave it a green light. As previously mentioned, the words to "Black Flags" doesn't appear in the commercial, but here's a little sample:
There’s a unified axis of government
And corporate power
Lawless and unrestrained
That’s what we should talk about
Corporations exploit the power of the state
To further enhance their power
And the real criminals get away
Interestingly enough, the "Black Flags" video does provide visual references to Anonymous, and according to Empire, the money generated from the PS Vita commercial will be donated to Freeanons.org. "Some might think it was an evil capitalist greed thing, others will argue it was some Jesus Christ sacrifice thing, but let’s not over-complicate this… I did it only for my own amusement!" Empire writes.
The song itself, which is a free download and wasn't used to generate album sales for his band, has been used many times before in several Occupy Wall Street (OWS) promotional videos. He said he did a little digging and discovered that Sony can't stop the track from appearing in additional OWS online clips by Anonymous and others.
Sony has yet to make a statement, but there's no doubt a new song will be inserted into the PS Vita commercial in no time. Sony may also do a little house cleaning because someone didn't do their research before agreeing to the Anonymous-tainted song. For your reference, we've provided by the Sony commercial and "Black Flags" video for comparison, as seen below.