A class-action lawsuit launched against Sony Computer Entertainment in April 2010 was concluded last week when a judge found the company didn’t break any laws by removing Other OS functionality from its PlayStation 3 console via firmware update.
U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California wrote in his Motion to Dismiss (.pdf) that while the complainants were justifiably upset over Sony’s actions, there was no breach of contract:
The dismay and frustration at least some PS3 owners likely experienced when Sony made the decision to limit access to the PSN service to those who were willing to disable the Other OS feature on their machines was no doubt genuine and understandable. As a matter of providing customer satisfaction and building loyalty, it may have been questionable. As a legal matter, however, plaintiffs have failed to allege facts or to articulate a theory on which Sony may be held liable.
Sony quietly removed Other OS from the PS3 last April, but were quickly met with vocal criticism and a class-action suit filed by gamer Anthony Ventura that same month.
In the original complaint (.pdf), Ventura sought restitution for himself and other consumers negatively affected by the feature’s untimely demise.
“This disablement is not only a breach of the sales contract between Sony and its customers and a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, but it is also an unfair and deceptive business practice perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting consumers,” argued Rebecca Coll, a lawyer for Ventura.
Other OS allowed PS3 owners to install a version of Linux on their consoles. Sony’s 3.21 firmware patch axed the feature and barred all who refused to update from signing into the PlayStation Network or playing new games.
Sony had previously apologized to angry customers for its change of heart on Linux, but stood by its decision.
“We are sorry if users of Linux or other operating systems are disappointed by our decision to issue a firmware upgrade which when installed disables this operating system feature,” read a statement from the company. “We have made the decision to protect the integrity of the console and whilst mindful of the impact on Linux or other operating system users we nevertheless felt it would be in the best interests of the majority of users to pursue this course of action.”
George “GeoHot” Hotz and other hackers were on the cusp of jailbreaking the console around the time Sony axed Other OS. Months later their work was realized anyway, leading to one of the most bizarre legal battles of 2011.
Prior to the PS3’s release in November 2006, Sony touted Other OS as a selling point for the device. Ironically, an Other OS installation guide is still featured at the company’s online PS3 user guide. (via GameSpot / Courthouse News)