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Sony Sued For Disabling PS3 'Other OS' Option
Sony Sued For Disabling PS3 'Other OS' Option
April 29, 2010 | By Kris Graft

April 29, 2010 | By Kris Graft
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    23 comments
More: Console/PC



A California man on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against Sony Computer Entertainment America for disabling the PlayStation 3's ability to accommodate third-party operating systems.

In the complaint (via IGN), Anthony Ventura alleged that SCEA's disablement of the feature "is not only a breach of the sales contract between Sony and its customers and a breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, but it is also an unfair and deceptive business practice perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting customers."

The suit represents a class that includes anyone who purchased a PS3 (and didn't resell it) between the console's North American release date on November 17, 2006, and March 27, 2010, the day before Sony said it would release a PS3 firmware update on April 1 that would disable the Other OS feature.

The complaint said that Sony misled consumers by marketing the PS3 as a console capable of running another OS. The complaint cited numerous instances in which Sony printed or talked about the advantages of using the PS3's Other OS option for increased multimedia capabilities.

"Plaintiff chose to purchase a PS3, as opposed to an Xbox or Wii, because it offered the Other OS feature… despite the fact that the PS3 was substantially more expensive than other gaming consoles," the suit said.

The "Other OS" feature on PS3 allowed users to install the open-source Linux operating system on the console, or other compatible operating systems. Sony eliminated the feature in the newer PS3 slim models.

While consumers who wanted to keep the Other OS feature had the option to not install the new firmware update, if they chose not to install it they would not be able to use PS3's online networking capabilities, or other features such as game and video disc playback for certain titles and movies requiring the new firmware.

"Sony did not provide any other notice [outside of a March 28, 2010 blog post] to its customers that it would disable these other advertised features unless they installed the Update 3.21," said the suit. "Sony [forced] consumers to choose between the Other OS feature and other valuable functions."

Sony originally included the feature to allow users to use Linux to essentially turn their PS3s into home computers, but the company later said that it removed the option due to security concerns.

Ventura's complaint said that there are more than 100 class members and the amount of the controversy is "in excess of $5 million." The complaint also sought an award for the class that includes "restitution and disgorgement of all profits unjustly retained by Sony."

While web commenters have largely seen the case as frivolous, internet reports in early April said some European PS3 consumers were able to receive partial refunds over the Other OS disablement from Amazon by citing European laws that state a product must "Be fit for the purpose which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of purchase."


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Comments


Josh Green
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Ahhhh America. Don't like something? SUE ABOUT IT!

Jose Ortiz
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This will go nowhere. Fast.

Kale Menges
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I'm amazed that someone who claims to be intelligent enough to install an alternative OS onto a game console isn't intelligent enough to know how stupid sounding this legal action is. Pretty sure Sony has more money to spend on lawyers than he does...

Neville Boudreaux
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"Sony did not provide any other notice [outside of a March 28, 2010 blog post] to its customers that it would disable these other advertised features unless they installed the Update 3.21," said the suit. "Sony [forced] consumers to choose between the Other OS feature and other valuable functions."



Uhhh...when you went to update to 3.21 they told you they would be removing the Other OS feature, and if you chose not to install it, you would not be able to have access to the PSN. They then gave you an 'Are you sure you want to install this update?' screen.



I don't see any legs to this lawsuit.

ken sato
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This started in Europe, not america. A man in Britain I believe and his lawsuit targeted SCEE and the outlet chain where he bought the PS3.



The merit in this case is focused not on the EULA but rather on the change in service where the consumer purchases an item with some safeguards that it functions at least how it is described but the manufacturer. This prevents fraudulent claims or at least puts requirements on the manufacturer / marketing department to adhere to some standards.



Now I'm sure there were lots of complaints when the PS3 removed backwards compatibility but it did not generate this response which I did expect. Interesting, no? I mean their claims at the time was that the consumer wants new games and not 'old' titles.

Josh Green
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@Ken: Ahh, I wasn't aware of that. I'm so used to people in America suing everything that moves that I assumed it only happened in America. I guess that's why they say never to assume things. ;)

E Zachary Knight
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@Ken,



But the removal of backward compatibility was not retroactive. Meaning that only newly produced consoles would lose the feature. Existing consoles would retain the feature.



Sony sold a product with certain feature set and then decided to remove a feature retroactively. Meaning they took a feature away from existing consoles.



I am really worried by the complacency shown here in that prospect. I wrote about this already, but I really fear for the future of this industry if we are okay with the idea of products losing features over time especially when we are losing existing features on products we have already purchased.

Eric Gilbert
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I know this is extreme, but I think it's like if Sony or Microsoft decided that they were going to put out a firmware update that disabled all the consoles from playing games. They decided the game biz wasn't worth it and they were only going to support their consoles as DVD / Blue Ray players from now on. We all bought the consoles based on advertised feature set. If you take that away, it's bait and switch, false advertising, etc. That's another reason why the suit only includes purchases up the the day before the initial announcement, because anyone who bought one after that date "knew what they were buying."

Matthew Campbell
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I'm not sure I understand why people think this is a stupid lawsuit. I never bought a PS3 so I don't have the problem, but I am very uncomfortable with the fact that a company can sell a product and then remove features from that product across the board after they've sold a ton of units. As an example, what if you bought an HDTV and then for some reason, some software update (yes I realize this is contrived) removed support for HD resolutions!? I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who bought a PS3 to install Linux on and experiment with the cell processor.. I know I almost did..



So again, it's scary that companies can do this and get away with it.. If they did it such that only NEW PS3s are affected then fine.. I don't like it, but it's not just blatantly wrong.. but having a user choose between two potentially important pieces of functionality AFTER THEY'VE ALREADY PURCHASED the product is terrible..

Adam Piotuch
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Does anyone know, if in the liability or warranty information for the ps3 states, whether or not the product services may change over time without notice? I know games sometimes state that for online multiplayer components while loading and sometimes in the packaged literature. Sony may be covered if it's in the fine print.

Adam Bishop
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I definitely agree with the commenters who are troubled by Sony's actions. Sony advertised the console as having a specific ability, and then - after taking the money of people who wanted to use that ability - they removed it from the console. The only way not to accept the update was to also accept the disabling of other features that the console was advertised as having. So even if you chose not to install the update, Sony was disabling a feature they sold to you. The lawsuit sounds entirely reasonable to me.

Danilo Buendia
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Actually, there are other government and private institutions that were using the PS3 hardware for things other than gaming. If the machines were purchased for those reasons and were under the agreement of being able to use other OS's for their research then I would say that there may be a case.

Aaron Truehitt
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I for one don't think this is a stupid law suit. I'm not comfortable with features of a console being taken away. I mean sure, you could keep it, but you lose access to online games. I guess we have to wait until they take something big away, which is how it usually goes with us humans. :) We wait till the last minute to be gung ho about something.

ken sato
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What about adding functionality?



Say...adding a subscription service for on line access like LIVE? Did you buy the console with the EXPECTATION that online would be free...forever?



So I guess my point is simple: Just what are you paying for?



I'm asking because its just not about the service but what you expect. Anything else and 1st parties are just shooting in the dark waiting to step on a land mine.

John Gordon
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I think any company which removes features from their product retroactively should be punished in some form or fashion. So...I hope Sony loses and loses big on this one.

Ian Uniacke
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@Adam Piotuch: It really wouldn't matter what sort of EULA the PS3 may or may not have had, because this is a classic case of getting what you were told you were getting, which is protected by law in some countries (at least in Australia and I assume other countries). I don't know all the details so I can't really comment but, at least under Australian law, selling someone a lawn mower, and then having a EULA that states "at some future point the blades may be removed from service" does not excuse the product provider. If I buy a lawn mower I expect it to cut my lawn, now and forever, at least the foreseeable life of the product (in the lawn mower case lets say 20 years).

John Mawhorter
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This is the dark side of digital services, that when they provide you with an update, they can threaten to remove other features if you don't install it. If digital device makers and software developers make their product dependent on a service, then they need to maintain all the features of that service. A more relevant example is if someone buys a multiplayer game today for which all the servers aren't running. It seems justified to be angry if he is expecting part of the product and it isn't being delivered to him.

Rodolfo Camarena
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Great job, Sony! I read the firmware notice when it was time to run it on my 60gb model and was very hesitant doing so, but I needed to go online in order to play my games and etc. There was no was to escape that and I was really upset about it. Hopefully, the outcome of this will result in another firmware returning the OS insta feature. On the other hand, I have a second 60gb model that I did not update the firmware on it, but I am not able to go online... One of the reasons I bought a PS3 was for that feature included...



I don't want money... I want my promised/advertised features back!

Richard Wong
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I still remember Sony claim its PS3 as Home Computer or something more than just a game console. Now Sony slap its own face now. I am furious about removal of Other OS support, cause I wanna run my own programs under Linux which I wrote by myself. And because it support Other OS, that's why I bought it, I thought it is something more than a gaming device that will do me some good (learn and practise how to programming).



I am really disappoint with Sony. Everyone knows, PS3 will be cracked, it just a matter of time. If PS3 want to be as successful as PS2, Sony should do something else, like reduce the development cost and time, give more support, backward compatiable.....

Richard Wong
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Oh, 1 more thing. Even if Sony disable the support for Other OS, I still believe some genius people will crack it, and reable this function. I think this action is STUPID, it will protect PS3 for a short time, will not work forever, and maybe this action also force PS3 users (like me) to choose cracked Firmware. More people want and use the cracked version of PS3, the sooner and better the cracks will be.



Sony, offense(adding more functions) is the best defense(protection). PS2 has less protection, but it is a legendary, until now, it still sold a lot.

Tom Newman
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The consumer can do anything they want with a PS3, including putting any OS they can - however - sony does not have to provide upgrades to their own os if the hardware is being used for other intentions. That's my Vegas bet on the outcome.

Danny Pampel
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I refused to update my PS3, so it will remain offline until this is sorted. I'm actually pretty disgusted with Sony as a whole. My PS3 laser needed replacing with about 99% less playtime than my 360 (which did eventually RROD but was fixed for free) and Sony wanted $150 just to look at it. Well I got someone to replace it for cheaper than Sony and then a few months later they tell me they're removing a feature I paid for. I'm glad VW didn't come and remove my seats after I bought my car, I mean you don't really need them to drive right?

Amir Sharar
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I'm glad to own a launch PS3 because features like the various memory card slots, ample USB slots, PSOne and PS2 backwards compatibility, and sexier design are all things I value and appreciate. These are thing that over time, Sony has removed from their consoles. I really hope my console can last this whole generation.



While I didn't use the OtherOS feature, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth that it is one thing that Sony can take away from me. The speculated reasoning is that it can lead to piracy. Well, if in time someone is able to use the SD/Memory Card slots for piracy purposes, will Sony remove all support for those drives in the future? The hardware is there but Sony can change the firmware so that the console doesn't see those ports.



I would be a bit more forgiving if Sony simply barred the feature from any new PS3s sold. But to take a feature away from the console that is already there and that I already purchased, is ridiculous.



Sure, I didn't use the feature but that shouldn't excuse this. Another feature I don't use is built in wireless, I'm a "wired all the way" sort of guy. But if Sony disabled the wireless capabilities, I would be equally disgruntled.


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