A judge dismissed all counts except one of the class-action suit protesting the Other OS removal.
Many people bought the PlayStation 3 believing they had the ability to use it however they wished. The option to install a different operating system on the computer - known as the "Other OS" option - enabled users to put Linux or some other open source OS on their PS 3 and basically have a cheap but powerful CPU and GPU combo. Even the U.S. military realized that stringing together PS3s could make you a cheap-ass super-computer. But in March 2010, Sony permanently removed the "Other OS" feature from all PS3s with a firmware update needed to access the PlayStation Network. California resident Anthony Ventura filed a class-action lawsuit stating that the removal was an "intentional disablement of the valuable functionalities originally advertised as available." Today, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed all but one of Ventura's claims.
Judge Seeborg upheld Sony's right to enforce the End User License Agreement or EULA all customers agreed to upon purchasing the PlayStation 3. "These contracts specifically provide PS3 purchasers with a license, not an ownership interest, in the software and in the use of the PSN, and provide that SCEA has the right to disable or alter software features or terminate or limit access to the PSN, including by issuing firmware updates," Sony said in its motion to dismiss the suit.
But the sticking point seems to be the access to the PlayStation Network, and other features. Judge Seebold made it clear that customers who bought the PS3 with the Other OS option enabled could still use the console as is, they just wouldn't be able to access Sony's network as well as play new games or Blu-Rays.
"All of the counts are based on plaintiffs' fundamental contention that it was wrongful for Sony to disable the Other OS feature, or, more precisely, [to force PS3 owners to decide between] permitting the Other OS feature to be disabled or forgoing their access to the PSN and any other benefits available through installing," wrote Seebold in the dismissal. "The flaw in plaintiffs' [argument] is that they are claiming rights not only with respect to the features of the PS3 product, but also to have ongoing access to an internet service offered by Sony, the PSN."
The plaintiffs maintain that firmware update 3.21 doesn't just forbid access to the PSN, but that the main functions of the console are no longer viable. To wit, if you didn't update, you could no longer play new games, play games online, play new Blu-Rays, or even play some older Blu-Rays. So choosing not to update and keep the "Other OS" option alive means that no new purchases are possible and the usefulness of the product is seriously restricted.
At least the judge wasn't completely heartless. "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," he said, but unfortunately those emotions have no impact on the legal scope of things.
"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."
Sorry, people. It looks like console manufacturers can change their products' capabilities after you purchase them with no penalty whatsoever.