In this three part article, I will be discussing the three major lawsuits and court cases that have been covered recently in gaming media, namely: The California Law Against Violent Video Games, The Infinity Ward Lawsuit, and the "Other OS" Lawsuit filed against Sony. In this third part, I will be giving information and opinions on the Sony 'Other OS' Lawsuit, between Sony and various PS3 'Phat' owners.
Read Other Parts of this Article:
In March, Sony released Playstation 3 Firmware v3.21 that disabled the 'Other OS' feature, disallowing users from installing the Linux operating system. The update was not mandatory; however those who chose not to download it were cut off from a number of other features, one of which included signing in to PlayStation Network. So basically, if a user did not install this update, they would not be able to make use of any online gaming features, access the Playstation Store and Playstation Home, or synchronise Trophies. So although not installing this update would allow a Playstation Owner to access the 'Other OS' feature, they would be disabling many other features.
It Only Does Everything!..except Other OS…and *Coughbackwardscompatibilitycough*
The suit, filed on April 27 by Anthony Ventura of California, seeks to redress Sony for the "intentional disablement of the valuable functionality originally advertised as available" for the Playstation 3. The disabling of Linux support is not only in breach of the sales contract between Sony and its customers, the suit says, but also a deceptive business practice "perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting customers." This class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of a nationwide (United States of America) class of all persons who purchased a PS3 during the period of November 17, 2006 to March 27, 2010 and who did not resell their PS3 before March 27, 2010. The suit seeks, among other things, compensatory damages, and injunction relief. No specific sum was listed, however the suit says "the amount in controversy is in excess of $5 million."
To quote the PDF File detailing the suit, "This disablement is not only a breach of sales contract with 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 customers". To take it away from legal speak, it is basically saying that the person (Note, the first person), believes that this disablement of the 'Other OS' feature, is breaching the sales contract with Sony's customers, and that it is unfair that Sony would disable this feature with 'millions of unsuspecting customers', that use this feature. The rest of the first lawsuit can be viewed here: http://ps3movies.ign.com/ps3/document/article/108/1086720/gov.uscourts.cand.226894.1.0.pdf (Correct Link – Thanks Matt Giguere)
From there, a fairly astonishing amount of further lawsuits were filed, bringing the number of lawsuits filed up to seven. Around two weeks prior to the publishing of this article, the courts decided to consolidate the lawsuits into one, and announced that Sony had thirty days from the issue of the consolidation to respond to the lawsuit, despite the fact that they have told various media outlets that they do not comment on litigation.
We don't know what Sony thinks…if only we could read Jack Tretton's mind…
So, Sony seems to be in trouble. Like I often do, I'd like to take a business perspective on this matter. Sony, and even game developers that use online functionality, are constantly monitoring the use of their features. To take a recent personal example, I read the fine print on the Transformers: War for Cybertron box, which states: "Activision makes no guarantees regarding the availablity of online play, and may modify or discontinue online service in its disretion without notice, including for example, ceasing online service for economic reasons due to a limited number of players continuing to make use of the service over time." The last part of that may apply to Sony removing the feature. If you surveyed one hundred Playstation 3 users before the Other OS functionality was removed, and asked them if they used that functionality, I doubt that you would find a substantial amount of users using that feature. Sony would do this, and if it is costing them money to have an employee program this function into the firmware its obvious what they would do based on the findings. Without a doubt, Sony would cut the expense on a feature that is not be used to a substantial degree.
Now, they have stated that the Other OS feature was removed for the sake of security. It doesn't take a genius to realise that they say security, but mean piracy. It is known that the use of Linux on the PS3 can result in the piracy of software, so you can't question Sony that they would cut the risk of piracy so the developers developing for them, don't lose money.
And that concludes Part 3 of my series of lawsuit articles. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and please leave your opinions in the comments.
Stephen Barry is a fairly opinionated gamer with a yearning to write…and rant, or a combination of the two. He also tends to get angry at people who complain about Nintendo's trend of systems with not-so-great graphics. Take that how you will. So if you ever read an article by him, expect one of two things: A rant or discussion about a relevant gaming topic, or hating on Ninten-haters. Oh, and its pronounced Stee-ven, not Stef-en. He gets mad when people mix it up.