Class Claims Sony Backtracked on Promise


     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal class action claims Sony reneged on its promise to allow its Playstation 3 video game console to function as a computer. Sony did this in an online software “update” that cited “security concerns,” but the update actually disabled the console’s Linux operating system, according to the complaint.

     When it launched the Playstation 3 in November 2006, Sony said the console was designed so users could “play games, watch movies, view videos, listen to music and run a full-featured Linux operating system that transforms your PS3 into a home computer,” according to the complaint. Sony claimed the console could run word-processing programs, spreadsheets and other office applications.
     Lead plaintiff Anthony Ventura says he bought a Playstation 3 instead of the Microsoft Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii because Sony’s system offered this Linux feature, even though “the PS3 was substantially more expensive.”
     But on March 28, Sony announced on its Web site that its latest software update for the PS3 would no longer support Linux. PS3 owners who wanted to sign onto the PS3 Network to play games online or use their PS3 to play Blu-ray discs would have to download the software update, the class claims. But the update would disable their Linux capability, forcing them to choose between using Linux or the PS3’s other features.
     The class claims Sony blindsided them with the announcement.
     Sony cited “security concerns,” but “contrary to Sony’s statement, the ‘security concerns’ did not involve a threat to PS3 users, but rather reflected Sony’s concerns that the other operating system feature might be used by ‘hackers’ to copy and/or steal gaming content.”
     The class adds, “Indeed, it is no coincidence that the release of Update 3.21 came quickly on the heels of an announcement by a hobbyist named Geohot that he was able to use the OS feature along with a bit of soldering in a manner that gave him more control over the PS3 software than Sony had intended.”
     The class demands more than $5 million in damages and the return of all or part of the money they spent on their PS3s. They allege breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act. They are represented by Rebecca Coll with Carton and Eberz of White Plains, N.Y.

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