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29 April 2010, 16:51

US class action against Sony for locking Linux out of the PS3

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PS3 logo A class actionPDF filed with the North California District Court on Tuesday by Anthony Ventura accuses Sony Computer Entertainment America of breach of contract. Sony's firmware update to version 3.21 on the 1st of April is accused of forcing, users to either go without Linux or to go without other "valuable functionalities" on the PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Ventura states that the ability to install Linux on the PS3 was the reason he chose to buy the product. He was prepared to pay a significantly higher price for it than for competitor products from Nintendo or Microsoft because of the additional functionality. The court papers state that by advertising the ability to install Linux and then disabling this option, Sony obtained an unfair competitive advantage.

By advertising functionality which has now been removed, the company is said to have breached California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act. The action also alleges that the passage in its terms and conditions from which Sony derives the right to modify or remove PS3 functions and services and to change its terms and conditions at any time breaches Civil Code §1770. Users have, according to the filing, had no opportunity to negotiate the contract, but have been forced to consent in order to use their PS3s.

Ventura is demanding reimbursement of costs incurred by himself and co-plaintiffs who purchased a PS3 in the USA between 17th November 2006 and 27th March 2010. Well over 100 people are said to be affected and the amount in dispute runs to more than $5 million.

Sony Computer Entertainment has cited security concerns to justify disabling Other OS functionality. This followed hot on the heels of hacker George Hotz successfully bypassing the hypervisor which separates the hardware from the open source operating system.

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