Sony sued over PS3 Linux lockout

Class action suit claims publisher breached "covenant of good faith and fair dealing" by removing Other OS feature with firmware update.

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Sony has on multiple occasions refined the functionality from the PlayStation 3, adding in features such as on-demand, streaming video through Netflix and cutting out the likes of PlayStation 2 backward operability (the latter of which came through a hardware revision). In that vein, the publisher began the month by axing gamers' ability to install the Linux operating system through the "Other OS" functionality as part of PS3 firmware update v3.21, a move that brought older iterations of the hardware in line with the new Slim models.

Linux was one of the reasons some users preferred the old PS3 models.

At least one gamer isn't taking the reduced functionality lying down. This week, Anthony Ventura of Santa Clara, California, filed suit in the US District Court of Northern California, claiming that Sony breached its sales contract, as well as "the covenant of good faith and fair dealing," by removing the Other OS feature from the system. Ventura is asking that the suit be made a class-action complaint on behalf of PS3 owners who purchased the console between November 17, 2006, and March 27, 2010.

Ventura alleges that the removal of the Other OS feature was unlawful due to four primary reasons. First, the suit claims that Sony marketed the Other OS functionality, and many owners purchased the system over competing products because of the removed functionality.

"Indeed, Sony stated on its Web site playstation.com that when it designed the PS3, 'it was fully intended that you, a PS3 owner, could play games, watch movies, view photos, listen to music, and run a full-featured Linux operating system that transforms your PS3 into a home computer,'" the suit reads.

Second, the suit notes that the Other OS feature is valuable, in that it "saves consumers money from having to…buy many additional electronic devices or applications." Third, the suit claims that Sony reneged on its promise to support the functionality, and it did so by surreptitiously announcing the removal of Other OS only as an update on playstation.com. The suit claims that the disablement came not as a way to enhance security but as a method to curtail the use of the feature to illegally pirate software.

Lastly, the suit addresses the fact that the v3.21 update is optional, noting that those who wish to continue using the Other OS feature must give up other valuable functionality.

"PS3 owner are not technically required to install Update 3.21," the complaint reads. "However, Sony has built a vast and sticky web of restrictions that will prevent users from accessing many of the PS3's Other Advertised Features for anyone who declines the 'upgrade.'" These features include PlayStation Network access, accessing online play, using new games, and watching Blu-ray videos.

The suit seeks compensatory damages, restitution, injunctive relief, attorneys' fees, and other costs associated with filing. Sony declined to comment on the suit.

Discussion

500 comments
pgeurs
pgeurs

i'm with the others on here that are frustrated with Sony's ads about it only does everything when they keep removing stuff. I had an 80 gig PS3.. played ps2 games so I sold my PS2. Few months later my house was robbed and my PS3 stolen. No big deal right? insurance money will cover it. WRONG. Sorry guy PS2 BC is gone now.. I'm just waiting for the day when they update the console and Blu ray movies dont work anymore.

xerotolerant
xerotolerant

i meant the MS thing referring to bundled software in windows and 3rd part installation. like flash and java support.

xerotolerant
xerotolerant

@Serious Now i follow your reasoning, but firstly mkv is an open format. secondly, Ms does not have the right to distribute many decoders for various things, but that has no effect on an end users legal permission of install them. Finally, people need to get something straight, there is hardly such thing as an "illegal" hack, unless it is to circumvent security to violate some copyright rules etc. I at one point wanted to get a PS3 to dedicate as a low price high performace linux machine, but the lack of 3d support stopped me from doing so. People who was not interested in 3d and got it to run linux anyway have indeed been shafted. Their removal of linux support has proven of no effect on hacking except to draw hackers attention to it and exploit some vulnerability. Hackers to that point were apparantly

armandoisgreat
armandoisgreat

So millions of dollars and the precious time of our justice system will go to waste on this? For god's sake Anthony, just play any one of ps3's awesome games and be happy. You know, happiness? The original and base emotion any console should provoke? Not a lawsuit, for christ's sake...

vader501st
vader501st

Taste some of your own poison, Sony. Karma is a *****

mingolo
mingolo

@Creed02 Whoops......lol :D

Creed02
Creed02

@mingolo This article is posted on "Apr 30, 2010".

cubachino
cubachino

Hotz are you reading this? I hope you join this class action suit. They bullied you so why not get at them too.

mingolo
mingolo

Awesome, Sony just keeps taking hits lately, don't they? Laying off several whole studios because of financial loss, George Hotz case, and now this. LOL :)

tachsniper
tachsniper

It's just like buying a new cell phone and suddenly without warning they locked out the feature to push 10 specific number buttons so you can hear and talk to a person connected with those 10 specific numbers.. All without your consent or approval. Oh and by the way you're still in the contract. Everyone should be in support of this suit, if you don't you must love bending over for corporate greed.

cjf187x
cjf187x

I've lived in Shanghai for 3 years, where there is no piracy law at all and where all the video games, except PS3 were burned and systems were modded. If companies, like Sony just banned everyone that f*cks with THEIR (keyword), their Intellectual Property, as Microsoft does, there wouldn't be these silly lawsuits with "GeoHot," who in turn made this Linux Class Action possible. If you open a store in a bad neighborhood and break-ins are rampant, you beef up your security. Sony needs to do the same and roll with the punches.

DitchyJ
DitchyJ

I actually sort of sympathize with this guy. If it indeed was advertised thatLinux could be used etc..then he has a case. If Sony was planning to remove this function, then there would need to be alot of notice so that 1) The blow would sink in 2) those who only bought the PS3 for that could sell or throw there rigs out the window. I for one bought the PS3 for the gaming console experience and to have PC to be used as a PC...dont know about anyone else lol

DitchyJ
DitchyJ

I actually sort of sympathize with this guy. If it indeed was advertised thatLinux could be used etc..then he has a case. If Sony was planning to remove this function, then there would need to be alot of notice so that 1) The blow would sink in 2) those who only bought the PS3 for that could sell or throw there rigs out the window. I for one bought the PS3 for the gaming console experience and to have PC to be used as a PC...dont know about anyone else lol

Serious
Serious

But the main breach of contract is " You may not use, make, or distribute unauthorized software or hardware in conjunction with Sony Online Services or take or use any data from Sony Online Services to design, develop or update unauthorized software or hardware including cheat code software or devices that circumvent any security feature or limitations included on any software or devices."

This means you can't make software that changes a limitation. there are legal reason MKV files aren't allowed. Sony didn't buy the right to use them. Hopefully one day they will. I love looking at fansub anime and they use that type a lot. You can't change the size of a game save. If you make the system allow you to store the entire game that is an illegal hack. If you are changing a limitation or circumventing a security then you have breached the contract. I'm positive that the TOS will hold up in court. Its used on all software and hardware in one form or another. I work for a bank and we have change in terms (CIT) all the time. and it has the same wording. "We reserve the right to make changes to these terms at any time, for any reason..." Trust me this lawsuit is going nowhere.

Serious
Serious

@Cloud737 You are absolutely right that its non of my business how you use your PS3. However, It is Sony's if it will hurt their sales. A part of the agreement you keep mentioning is in the TOS. and I quote " You agree that you will not directly or indirectly use Sony Online Services in any way that harms or has the potential to harm SCEA...."

mischiefmeerkat
mischiefmeerkat

Wow...gamers all over are happy that sony is REMOVNG features from the system that they paid for. Now I KNOW i'm in the twilight zone. I guess even if sony disabled online connctivity, game disc access, blue ray support and even disables the system entirely and forces you to pay another 500 for the "remake" PS3 you'll bend right over an happily do it, yeah? Now I know for certain why gaming is dying. spineless zombie consumers with no will to speak up

Chainer323
Chainer323

I, personally, can't wait to see what the end result of this is, especially when the judge decides to go in favor of sony. Then everyone that thinks that the lawsuit was correct will see the error of their ways and toss their PS3's since they won't be allowed to use them anymore.

penpusher
penpusher

if theres anyone here in the uk affected by this it might sound daft but you could seriously consider complaining to watchdog about this, thats what consumer watchdog is for and it has put pressure on sony UK before

penpusher
penpusher

@Serious indeed I can see sonys reasoning behind it and if all they did was remove it from the next model like they did with the ps2 backwards compatibility then that'd be fair enough, but to remove it from people who have already paid for it is unfair and I wouldnt be suprised if the courts rule it a breach of contract with the consumer

Cloud737
Cloud737

@Serious And what I do with my PS3 is frankly none of your business. Once they sold me that unit, they have no right to remove functionality than what I had when I bought it, especially if they advertised it. Do note lots of people in the EU are getting 20% refunds from Amazon because of this loss of functionality, and this could easily escalate. And if a company does indeed give me a program that will hurt them, I have all the right to keep it, again, because I have paid with the thought of getting that program/functionality and because they advertised it. What if they next remove BC because somehow they discovered that you can somehow use it to circumvent copy protection for PS3 games? How about Blu-ray playback? "Just cause a company makes a mistake gives you a program that will hurt them doesn't mean you can keep it", right? And your comment still doesn't excuse the fact that you had no idea about what you were talking about previously, which you avoided to talk about.

Cloud737
Cloud737

@Serious Just so you know, I NEVER said I needed the OtherOS for "hacks". In all honesty, I didn't want to install Linux on my PC as I already have Windows on it and all HDDs are formatted in NTFS so that they perform better (and store files larger than 4 GB, which I need for video and photo editing), and Linux doesn't support that format as as far as I remember it's proprietary (Microsoft). So Linux on my PS3 was a great way to test cross-compatibility of my apps (which I develop under Windows) as well as experiment with a new OS I wouldn't have a chance to. Besides that, I was really looking forward to coding for the Cell and PowerPC architecture without spending an enormous amount (about $30,000) for a blade server from IBM just for a hobby. And besides all of that, I was really looking forward to a home entertainment system that could play absolutely any movie or song (because Linux supports ffdshow and other codecs), as the built-in PS3 functionality doesn't support some formats (like Matroska files, which are quite popular). Btw, in case you didn't know, PS3 games have always been saved to HDD. You can't say that's an illegal "hack" if the PS3 is already doing it, not to mention that there'd be no point to it.

Serious
Serious

@penpusher I agree with you that losing the Other Os feature won't prevent hacking. but If I were Sony I would be stupid not to remove a loophole I created. Now if some a$$hole figures a way to do these things with a PC or Mac attached to a PS3 will that's another story.

Serious
Serious

@cloud737 You say that Sony did this only to protect themselves. Well, I for one don't have a problem with it. Sony came up with this great product that has given me hours of fun and enjoyment. I can't fault them for protecting themselves. You say this prevent you from running the hacks you want to? Well, exactly what type of hacks would that be? Is it the ability to save games to your HDD? Get free Video and Game content? Tell me that your not upset about losing access to an illegal functions. Just cause a company makes a mistake gives you a program that will hurt them doesn't mean you can keep it. Geez get over it the deal is done. Other OS is history now get off your cross and use the wood to build a bridge to get over it.

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@alixkid You're probably too young to remember these words; "Read my lips: No new taxes!".

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@AncientDozer You talk about Sony and Blizzard and how they "crap on consumers", what have they really done that's so horrible? I always see gamers sing the same, tired old song about how Sony is this horrible corporation and about how they don't care about consumers. What have they done? Yes, there was the whole rootkit fiasco, that was one instance. The only real thing they've done wrong is to ask gamers to pay for a console that cost, at the time, $600. GASP!! HOW DARE THEY!! They don't care about the consumers! That's what all this stems from. Gamers have now adopted at "Tea Party" like stance regarding Sony and they, quite frankly, would rather be certain than right. It's been easy to paint them as the bad guy this generation, repeat it enough times and opinion becomes "fact". I know how some of you think that this is a good thing, but mark my words Sony being sued by gamers is going to be one of the worst things to happen to the industry. Gamers are going to start filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, further congesting the already backlogged civil court system, and there will be no shortage of ambulance chasers seeking an easy pay day to help them

method115
method115

@demonlord6696 1. He's screwed because his whole purpose of getting the PS3 was for the linux install. 2. if his 360 RROD he could just send it to MS and get it repaired, he's still well within the 3 year warranty. There is no way to get Sony to fix the linux situation because they caused it. 3. I don't understand why you even had to bring the 360 up to begin with. I said my friend was screwed because he got a PS3 just for the linux install. What the 360 has to do with anything I said I'll never know. 4. I'll just chalk up your rant to blind fanboyism at it's finest.

xeridae
xeridae

@Seljek Probably for the same reason you thought I said they didn't have the right to sue. We both never actually said either.

Seljek
Seljek

@xeridae Those were the rights that I was referring to... someone inferred that since there is such a small minority of people who use the linux on PS3, that they should not be allowed to sue. I never once said that it was their right to win the case and force a company to change their mind. I do not know why you thought that.

xeridae
xeridae

@Seljek The 7th amendment only protects your right to sue as an American. A judge still determines the outcome. Ventura's interpretation of the law is laughable to say the least. Should the manufacturers of the HDD for xbox 360 file a class action suit against Microsoft for changing their mind and allowing usb flash drive storage now because they will potentially lose money on HDD sales? That situation is no different from this when ultimately the outcome is loss of money. The lesson to take away from this is not to place your faith in any company because they can and will get away with crap like this primarily since they are a global business and one American lawsuit means nothing to them. That's why I find it so funny that Ventura claims Sony breached the "the covenant of good faith and fair dealing," as if there is such a thing. Do I think it's right? Hell no but just because we CAN sue in this country doesn't mean the outcome will be any different or even worth the time.

Seljek
Seljek

@xeridae U.S. Constitution, 7th amendment: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. This is basically, your right to sue, and since you can argue that you bought a PS3 specifically for a supported Linux OS ($300 value) you have the right to hold a civil case, and you can never agree to a terms of use that will void your constitutional rights. Will this case change Sony's mind? Maybe, maybe not, but your prediction means just as much as mine and anybody else's. And if you really want to know why VMI chose to buy 8 PS3s with Linux, it was because that is the most cost effective way at obtaining an 8 core processor in a working system which is perfect for multi-threading. What it means for them is that they can no longer replace a PS3 if the motherboard becomes damaged because the new firmware does not support the OS.

Chainer323
Chainer323

My PS3 is about 1.5-2yrs old. I just looked over the entire box and it doesn't say a thing about having an Other OS feature.

xeridae
xeridae

@Seljek What rights are you referring to? You mean the ones you sign over to Sony when you agree to their terms of use on every update you install? The update is optional. Yeah you lose functionality either way but if it means more to you that you have your precious Linux then don't upgrade. Did Sony ever say that they would always support Linux on the PS3 forever? No they didn't. If they are losing money due to piracy then they have an obligation to their shareholders to stop it anyway they can. It was a bad idea on their part and now they are correcting it. There is a reason why other OS installs aren't supported on consoles and Sony hard to learn the hard way. What's this lawsuit going to lead to? Nothing. Linux is not coming back to the PS3 not matter if Sony loses the suit or not. At most they will owe people who bought the console for the use of Linux their money back. No one will get rich off this and no one will care in a month. Why in the world would anyone ever use a console to run an OS I will never understand. You can build a black box for less than a PS3 costs...

blakeney
blakeney

@ im-a-roustabout Its not like them taking the tires off a car really, Its more like waking up and finding they took you cup holders out...;)

alixkid
alixkid

Sony has gone back on there word and changed alot of stuff that they used to sell the machine, so serves them right.. still can't believe they took out the backwards compatibility.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

@CaptainHerlock Ah, captain Herlock, we meet again. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, JUST maybe, that Sony actually is as bad as everyone thinks? Don't mistake my words for defense of Microsoft's wrongs; they have done wrong but so do a lot of major corporations and it's shocking to see people elevate the competition above Microsoft. Microsoft has many faults but it is far from the big bad boogie man that people frequently try to make it be. While companies like Sony or Blizzard, crap on consumers or employees yet there are people who refuse to believe it and blame other things (like with Blizzard, it's never Blizzard but always Activision). This issue with Linux? Hardly the first thing and certainly not the worst or the last terrible thing Sony will do for profit. They all do it. It's the sad truth.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

I am amazed that so many of you are interesting in Linux. I enjoy Ubuntu myself.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

So Sony pulled a MS big woop! Sony should have built an in house OS from the start. They shouldn't have been so cheap. but This is a who cares article.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Sony will find a way to get this thrown out of court via a firmware update.

MobstarRaven
MobstarRaven

another a**hole looking for easy money. I hope he gets nothing and loses money paying his lawyer's fees. It's true that Sony made a bold and probably a bad move by removing the linux feature but I don't think we have that kind of right to dictate what a company should do with their products. I mean, the linux feature wasn't used by many so why bother with this. If he has the money to hire a lawyer then he should just get a frikkin computer.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

In this guys defense, Playstation DID tout the Linus OS as a bragging feature for the PS3. To take it away is like buying a car and waking up with no tires on the darn thing. Sorry if that analogy sucked.

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@AncientDozer Check the news, Microsoft has been violating labor laws by not paying employees overtime in China. I ask you, what's worse? Gamers have sold themselves on the concept of "Sony bad!" for so long that it's become a reflex reaction. Repeat something enough times and eventually opinion will BECOME "fact", and the truth will become a casualty in the process.

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@FlamingFury You can't be serious? Are you that naieve to think that this guy wouldn't be seeking a pay day? Gamers have built up this notion that this is for the "good of the community", taking upon themselves the role of Robin Hood and Sony being the evil Sherriff of Nottingham. When it reality all this guy is looking for is an easy pay out that he didn't earn. That's what ALL frivolous lawsuits are about; money. Don't kid yourself gamers. This isn't about principle. It's about cold hard cash.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Well, if the Giant Enemy Crab. . the Backwards compatibility. . the rumble incident. . the high initial price point and arrogance. . didn't convince you that Sony was just as bad if not worse as even Microsoft on doing douche things. . this should do it.

dr_octagon
dr_octagon

I was really dissappointed with this move by Sony as well. I was very close to begin investing in a Linux system (like Ubuntu) to put on my PS3.

hajjjustin
hajjjustin

most of the time i hate when some little gamer gets mad at something stupid and trys to sue the companies, but this time i do agree and i think the kid has a case, when the Company trys to screw you, you should fight back as long as you have a good reason and have a viable suite.

trollkind
trollkind

Yeah, that was quite a blow. I didn't use the feature so far since my PC is sitting next to my PS3 but already set aside the space on the HDD as it would have come in handy when I move into a 2 room apartment. I wouldn't mind some reimbursement for the loss of that functionality, it was one of the "cool" features it had ahead of the other consoles. Too bad some people got too close to actually hacking/pirating the PS3. I know I couldn't resist the challenge if I were a hacker but at least keep it to yourself and don't advertise it as a future way for kids not paying for their games.

eitremn
eitremn

good luck to you, I hope you win!

agent_paul
agent_paul

Im with frazzle on this. Its a feature that we all paid for a its simply been removed now. If it was the Bluray movie playback feature that was removed, how many of you would still be quiet about this?

frazzle00
frazzle00

@Ravenlore_basic It doesn't matter how important the feature is. When we purchase a console, we pay for the ENTIRE feature set. So when Sony remove a feature, they are effectively removing something that we have paid for. If they had a justifiable reason for doing so I would probably understand. They however don't. Removing the Other OS feature does not increase the PS3's security. It was a matter of a week or so before that very same hacker who cracked the PS3 figured out a work around to bring back the feature.So what Sony has done is simply rob owners of the phat PS3 of a feature. It doesn't matter whether or not they used it. All that matters is they paid for it. Now as to the EULA, well I really can't be bothered looking at its legalese. All I'll say is this: The complaint is legitimate. Sony have done its consumers a disservice. In the UK customers are getting partial discounts, providing incentive for law suits such as this one.There's now one more thing to add to the growing list of negative things Sony have done this generation.

wyan_
wyan_

I have a feeling this kid who is suing was exploiting said feature for pirating so he wouldn't actually have to pay for games and movies like the rest of us. If that's actually the case, to hell with him.