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Aussie Gamer Loses PS3 Court Case Over 'Other OS'

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  • by chaboud (231590) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @03:38AM (#33433100) Homepage Journal

    It's completely ridiculous, which shouldn't surprise anyone. We already know that going into court is a crapshoot, with somewhat random results, but the one thing that we can be certain of? Having money enough to have a team of attorneys permanently on staff (like Sony) is definitely going to help tug the randomness in your direction.

    How could any court not view this as false advertising? My guess is that they have fresh Vaios and PS3s (i.e. hookers and blow) to spare.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @03:54AM (#33433128)

      It's not quite as simple as that for a number of reasons:

      1. A number of countries have a system for dealing with claims with a low monetary value (which this would almost certainly fall under) and generally speaking this system is set up to make it practical for you or I to sue a huge company by limiting the amount of costs (and, for that matter, messing around) either party can incur.

      2. "How could any court not view this as false advertising?" : Good question. IANAL, but I can think of three things: I seriously doubt many people genuinely used their PS3 for Linux - and Sony could easily dig up numbers to support that, the fact that the feature was removed in the update was well known and in the release notes and the update may well have shipped with a "regardless of what this does to your console, you can't sue us" disclaimer.

      I would add that IMV the only thing worse than Sony doing this is that I haven't yet heard of a single legal case where the judge(s) involved seem to be taking it particularly seriously. I really don't like the idea of living in a world where a manufacturer can release a product with features X, Y and Z only to remove Z - even from items already sold - at a later date. Could be particularly interesting here in the UK where no matter what the manufacturer does, it's the retailer who's on the legal hook if they sell you something which doesn't perform as advertised.

      • "A number of countries have a system for dealing with claims with a low monetary value"

        Yes, all Australian states have a small claims tribunal that handle claims up to a few thousand dollars and/or disputes with government departments. They are specifically designed for quick and cheap dispute resolution. As such Sony's legal army would be useless, they would basically be confined to barracks.
      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Good question. IANAL, but I can think of three things: I seriously doubt many people genuinely used their PS3 for Linux - and Sony could easily dig up numbers to support that.

        I don't think numbers using it should affect it. If you buy a device with a feature that you use that should be enough.

        • I don't think numbers using it should affect it. If you buy a device with a feature that you use that should be enough.

          Yes, we advertised that our pipes could handle 300 PSI but 99.9% of people who purchase our plumbing supplies use it at household water pressures. That someone would put a fluid at 250 PSI through our pipes is just silly.

          Numbers can be justification for removing a feature from future models, but if it is sold with a feature and that feature is removed or fails to operate at that level then

      • I seriously doubt many people genuinely used their PS3 for Linux

        Funny, I seem to recall that from the start, the majority of PS3 owners were running GNU/Linux on their PS3s. I also seem to recall Sony dropping that capability in the new PS3 models to try and cut their losses. Maybe I need to get my memory checked though.

    • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@ g m a il.com> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:10AM (#33433186) Journal

      It's completely ridiculous, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

      The ridiculous and surprising part is his legal defense:

      "He explains that he believed a warning about the update, downloaded on April 1st, was just an April Fool's joke."

      If I were the judge, I would have adjourned the case until April 1st and then handed down the victory to Sony then.

      • It's completely ridiculous, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

        The ridiculous and surprising part is his legal defense:

        "He explains that he believed a warning about the update, downloaded on April 1st, was just an April Fool's joke."

        If I were the judge, I would have adjourned the case until April 1st and then handed down the victory to Sony then.

        That and his damages... Renting a laptop? The PS3 was not a laptop. He should have gone for the price of a PS3. Then he would have won. Less money, but more than he got!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gamricstone (1879210)
      I don't believe this is false advertising, as no one who purchased a console before the update was required to install the update. Sony is under no legal obligation to provide access to the PSN, and they are simply refusing to offer this service to consoles with outdated firmware. As for removing the option to install other OS, that is also Sony's choice for future firmware iterations as well as future console sales.

      That being said I think its a shitty move on their part, but far from illegal unless they
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        I don't believe this is false advertising, as no one who purchased a console before the update was required to install the update

        Unless they want to play new games, new BluRay movies, or continue to access PSN. If you don't install the update, you lose these features (which the console was advertised as having), if you don't install it then you lose the ability to run Linux (which the console was advertised as having). Whichever choice you make, you lose some of the functionality that the console was originally advertised as having.

        I hope that Microsoft and Nintendo will remember this for the next round of the console wars, and

        • by unix1 (1667411)

          I hope that Microsoft and Nintendo will remember this for the next round of the console wars, and remind people that Sony doesn't sell you a console, it lends you one and reserves the right to disable arbitrary features in the future.

          Or, more likely, they'll see this play out first. If Sony wins, or settles out of court for some pocket change, they'll start doing the exact same thing - "hey, we didn't know we could get away with this."

  • Very sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ahaubold (1705608) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @03:54AM (#33433130) Homepage
    Yet another case where money > consumer protection/right.
  • Another link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lliam33 (1881990) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @04:07AM (#33433180)
    Forum post [whirlpool.net.au] from the guy involved. Scroll up for some more info.
  • He no longer has what he paid for and Sony are responsible. They should have at least provided a method of restoring the functionality to how it was.
    I must admit I'm surprised the ACCC took that stance, I'd really like to see more details.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Ditto. Please sing out if you find any. At the moment we just have a single (very nearly) context-free report, echoed ad infinitum. The reasoning (if any) behind the ACCC and Magistrates' decisions are what will matter in the long term.
      • by Xest (935314)

        Is there even an option of appeal in small claims cases?

        If there is, any idea how they work? is it just to another small claims court or does it get escalated to a higher court, and if so, do your potential liabilities increase should you lose there too?

        I agree appealing is a smart option in this case, but I don't know if the appeals process for this sort of thing actually fairly caters to it or not?

    • Re:He should appeal (Score:5, Informative)

      by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:19AM (#33433400)

      There's a forum linked elsewhere - in essence, Sony's argument was "you can't sue us, the EULA says so" and the judge agreed.

      • Then this is very sad justice indeed. That means that if I make, for instance, bicycles and attach some kind of EULA on it, I can put myself above the law by denying any responsibility in the EULA. I don't need to deliver basic quality, or a safe vehicle, or deliver a functional thing if I repair it. Even if an EULA is nothing more than a forced, after-the-sale contract which should be void in any country with a serious law.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jimicus (737525)

          Oh, very much in so. An EULA is a blatant attempt to turn a business-to-consumer transaction (which in many countries has all sorts of legal protections) into the legal equivalent of a business-to-business transaction (which in many countries has very few legal protections - if you're a business you're meant to have the good sense to exercise due diligence and hire a lawyer if necessary).

          What the world really needs is a judgement in a first-world country in a court which makes binding decisions acknowledgi

        • Rubbish. Your lack of basic safety checks could kill someone, so you're damn right you'll get hosed in court if you don't do them. A better analogy would be issuing a product recall for a minor adjustment to the gear ratios, then finding out that it came back with only 12 gears instead of the advertised 18 you bought it with.

          Still, you all bought the damn thing knowing full well what was in the EULA. More fool you, firstly for not reading it and thinking "GTFO I'll buy a pretzel for the walk home" and also
      • by The Moof (859402)
        I despise that entire idea (and I know I'm not alone). Basically, agree and install the update, letting them strip out features on your console. Or, refuse the EULA and the update, and they will strip out features on your console anyway. Plus, you won't be able to play some games if you refuse the EULA, so it's more than just the loss of PSN functionality if you refuse.

        The kicker is that a judge sees it Sony's way. At least this was in Australia, so there's still some faint hope for the rest of us.
      • by DarthVain (724186)

        Contract Law. You agreed to the EULA. No one forced you to buy the product. You could have taken one look a the EULA, and walked away saying "No thanks". Hell most people don't even read their insurance or mortgage agreements, let alone agreements for a PS3.

        Problem is they have become so ubik these days, that there is some sort of EULA on everything now indemnifying companies from blame or litigation. Most of these are ridiculous in length. I mean the iTunes one is like 75 pages long, not to mention, WOW, o

    • If you can see a feature as an independent thing, then that feature was stolen after he bought it and paid for it. Otherwise, his machine was wilfully damaged by Sony.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tophermeyer (1573841)

        I'm sorry, I think I missed the part of the article where they interviewed the Sony Killbot that was sent to this guy's house to mess with his PS3, can you link it?

        (Serious Face) There was an update, he had to agree to an updated EULA before he downloaded. He misinterpreted the EULA as an April Fools joke. This is unfortunate, but ultimately his own damn fault for agreeing to something without understanding it. Nothing was stolen. Sony just pushed an update out to their OS. If he wants to run Linux so

  • Facepalm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrScotsman (857078)

    Okay I am really confused over all of these attempts to sue the manufacturers, maybe I'm missing something here. In the UK, if a product is not as described/fit for purpose among other things, the seller is liable (providing they're a business etc.). It's the same thing EU-wide (1999/44/EC), surely it's the same with Australia and North America?

    Or am I wrong about the UK, and the manufacturer is also liable? Any British IANALs got some case or statute law that says that a buyer can sue a manufacturer for

    • In the UK, the consumer only has a contract with the retailer they bought it from. The manufacturer is not liable.

      People have been successful in the UK with a full or partial refunds. Amazon, GAME and HMV have given damages or full refunds to customers. £84 is what Amazon offer for a partial refund, and you get to keep the console.

      • by cynyr (703126)

        ahh for a refund, but i want to use the device i paid for, not return it. How does one go about doing that?

  • The story so far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:00AM (#33433540) Homepage

    A man walks into a shop:
    "Hello, good sir. I would like to purchase a computer."

    "Here you are. That will be $600"

    "A fair deal indeed. Thank you."

    [ Several months later, our hero comes home to find his computer missing. In its place is a short note and a paddle-ball ]

    "Dear customer. We have taken the liberty of replacing your computer with a paddle-ball, as we learned that people were attempting to use their computers for non-paddleball-related activities."

    • A man walks into a shop:

      "Hello, good sir. I would like to purchase a computer."

      After which he points you to towards the Sony Vaio, the HP Pavilion, the Lenovo ThinkPad. Perhaps a Dell Inspiron if you a looking for a budget desktop.

      He does not send you to the racks with the XBox 360, the Wii, and PS3.

      • by kestasjk (933987) *
        Next you'll be telling me my washing machine doesn't have to be capable of running Linux.. It contains a computer, when I went into the Harvey Norman and asked for a computer they directed me to the washing machines, so excuse me if I think the CEO of Electrolux deserves some prison time..
      • by cynyr (703126)

        and? feature lists included "other OS". Shall I take a picture of my PS3 box that says it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cruciform (42896)

      You walk into a dealership of recreational vehicles.
      You see an amphibious car on display. The head of the amphibious car manufacturing division has stopped by the dealership, and is extolling the features of it to customers.
      "Drives on land! Operates in water like a boat!"
      So you buy one.
      After you buy it, you might use both features, you might not. But isn't it awesome knowing if you want to you can just drive down to the lake and go for a spin?
      But then there's a knock on the door. A representative of the com

  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:36AM (#33433668) Homepage

    It says he sued to get back $800 (AU), which was the cost of renting a laptop for some unspecified period of time.

    He should have sued for the retail price of the PS3.

    • yeah, that was what I thought. It immediately looks like a time-wasting idiot-case when he seems to want a resolution which (a) let's him keep his PS3 as a gaming machine and (b) make Sony pay for him to have a seperate computer as well (and as the sort of nerdy type who installs Linux on a PS3, he probably has a seperate computer anyway). He'd probably have been more successful if he'd demanded they take the product back since they were crippling it.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is there some way to specifically ask the court to restore the feature? Because this is what is really needed here. Sony promised it, then they took it away, they should be made to give it back.

  • To use a car analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:22AM (#33433836)

    Customer: I bought this Sony Car because it had headlights. I need headlights so I can drive my car at night.

    Sony: We removed the headlights feature at your last service because headlights can be used to flash oncoming drivers. But removing headlights has made your Car lighter, so it can go faster and use less fuel. We hope you like the changes.

    Customer: I can't use my Car any more because you took the headlights away, thus it's no longer roadworthy and it would be illegal for me to drive it. Give me back my headlights, and pay $800 for the rental car I've had to use in the meantime.

    Sony: No.

    Judge: No.

    Rest of the world: Dumb-asses.

    • Customer: When they called me and offered to remove my headlights, I only agreed because I thought it was a joke!

      Slashdot: SOOONY BLOOOOOD!

      Rest of the world: Dumb-asses.

      • by daid303 (843777)

        Correct analogy would be that they would only service the car if they also could remove the headlights.

        • And a more correct analogy would be that instead of headlights they removed the part of the car that also makes it work as a boat. Still perfectly capable of working as a car, but no longer able to perform a seldom used and impractical "other" service.

      • Actually, it's more like:

        "When they called and offered to remove my headlights, I only agreed because it was the only way I could use the petrol and tires I'd already installed; or any future petrol or tires I may need. Also, they'd stop letting me drive on the Interstate if I declined."

    • Customer: I bought this Sony Car because it had headlights.

      Sony: What? This is a gaming machine. Yeah, we put headlights on it because it looks good, but it's not meant for strapping to the hood of your car. Are you insane?

      Customer: Linux!

      Sony: Uh, okay... Incidentally, due to people cheating, you're going to have to choose between using our completely cost-free online gaming network, and your "headlights".

      Customer: Give me $800 and free car!!

    • by sorak (246725)

      Another car analogy:

      Customer: I'd like to buy a car.

      Sony: Sure!

      Customer: Can I install Linux on this and use it as a server?

      Sony: Yeah, you can do whatever you want, now sign this fifteen page contract!

      Customer: Do I have to?

      Sony: Yes, but don't worry. It's just there for decoration.

      Customer: Ok.

      Six months later...

      Customer: You removed Linux from my car...

      Sony: Yeah, we just realized it's a car, and you might be using Linux to add features that we should be charging you for.

      Customer: That's not fair.

      Sony: Remember the contract? It says I can do this...It's right after the part that says that I get to have sex with your mother.

      Customer: What?

      Sony: Raising someone who would sign such an agreement was taken as consent. It's all legal.

      Customer: I'm taking you to court.

      Sony: We have fifteen lawyers, do you need a ride up there?

      Later

      Judge: So, this "car" you speak of...It's like an electric horse, right?

      Customer: But it runs Linux...

      Judge: And as for your mother...Well, I'm pretty sure that would be illegal, except that this guy sells electronics, and current contract laws don't say anything about "rape by an electronics salesman"....I guess we'll have to wait for the law to catch up with the technology on that one.

      Customer: Does this mean "no Linux"?

      Judge: Boy, I don't know what the hell you just said, but I like you. Now get outta my court room, you little scamp.

  • Why is it that Sony first allowed Linux on PS3 (and earlier PS's too), and there were even supercomputers built with PS3's, and that later Sony decides to disallow that support completely? Why the sudden change?

    • by mrjb (547783)
      Just a guess: because 1. They make their money on the games, not on the console, and/or 2. Money is more important than providing added value to your customers?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Why is it that Sony first allowed Linux on PS3 (and earlier PS's too), and there were even supercomputers built with PS3's, and that later Sony decides to disallow that support completely? Why the sudden change?

      They allowed it because of the significant number of people who said they would only buy a PS3 if it could run Linux, and they wanted to deny the sales to Microsoft. Linux has long been used inside Sony (and in dev kits) for Playstation game development so it was probably a relatively trivial operation. The Hypervisor is probably already used to provide security (anti-cheat, anti-hack, anti-copy) protection for games so it didn't have to be added for Linux. They took it away because it could trivially be us

    • by cynyr (703126)

      George Hotz managed to get to ring 0 of the hypervisor. Basicly he had full control of the hardware, or enough control to get there. Now he still needed to boot gameOS to make any games work, but sony probably figured it was just a mater of time before he reverses the gameOS too. His blog has since become invite only it would seem.

      Shortly after GeoHot annoced this sony announced the removal of "otherOS" as it was a security problem.

  • The point of branding is to help people recognize what they can expect from a product. If you disagree with the proven track record of shady business tactics of a company, just consider their logo to be a warning label. You'll be surprised at how well this works.
  • Not to put too fine a point on it, but is anyone surprised that the government of Australia is making (more) stone-age-stupid decisions regarding technology? Their track record on all things related to high tech demonstrates institutionalized ignorance. This is just another example of Australia's willful lack of understanding of the modern Internet-enabled world.

    We'll just add this one to the list.

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