A lawsuit has been filed against Sony for its removal of the “Other OS” feature in a recent PS3 firmware patch.
The class action lawsuit, of course filed by an American, alleges Sony advertised the Other OS capability as “an important PS3 feature,” and quotes Sony marketing hype as evidence of this.
The plaintiff claims he bought his PS3 in 2007 largely as a result of this Other OS functionality, and that the recent 3.21 firmware disables this functionality, constituting “breach of contract,” “breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” “unjust enrichment,” and violations of California consumer protection laws.
The scope of the suit is broad – all US PS3 owners who bought their units between 2006 and 2010 and did not resell their consoles – and damages sought are predictably huge: all “unjustly retained” profits and a full or partial refund for all buyers affected.
The only indication so far of how much is sought is the “in excess of $5,000,000” stated in court documents.
The lawsuit probably hinges on whether courts accept that Sony’s firmware update is a voluntary process with no impact on previously released consoles (and one which is covered by the EULA users must agree to), as Sony is likely to insist, or whether Sony has indeed established “a vast and sticky web of restrictions” which “downgrade” users sticking with older firmware, as the lawsuit claims.
The consequences of the suit could be significant (not least for Sony’s already weak financial position) – on the one hand consumers are rightly dubious of companies unilaterally withdrawing advertised functionality after product release, and on the other hand manufacturers providing online services on computer-like devices are likely to consider rules preventing them from removing functionality a potentially huge liability.