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Sony Games

Sony Can Update PS3 Firmware Without Permission 700

Stoobalou writes "Sony's latest firmware update comes with a revised End User License Agreement which allows the company to change any part of the console's operating system without notification or permission. You might think you own the console you paid for, but Sony has a very different idea."
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Sony Can Update PS3 Firmware Without Permission

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:02PM (#31941532)
    Shouldn't the EULA that I agreed to when I bought the hardware apply, not a revised one released after the fact? What are the consequences of refusing this firmware update?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Does that EULA state that they can change the terms of the EULA itself without permission or notification?
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:27PM (#31941970) Homepage

        Is that legal?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Meumeu ( 848638 )

          Is that legal?

          Sony: "I will make it legal"

          • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

            by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Friday April 23, 2010 @03:59AM (#31952166)


            <DmncAtrny> And then hurl it through the window of a Sony officer

            <DmncAtrny> and run like hell

            http://bash.org/?577451 [bash.org]




            Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:49PM (#31943616)

          In general, no, you can't agree to a contract that says you will agree in the future to anything that one side proposes. A binding contract (which a EULA may or may not even be in the first place) certainly can't say you agree to anything the writer might propose in the future.

          For starters, it violates the principle of Meeting of the Minds [wikipedia.org] - you can't have agreed to a principle in a contract that you haven't seen yet simply by having generally agreed to a term saying you will agree to whatever they say in the future.

          Furthermore, it is on the face of it unconscionable, in any form of contract (adhesion, license or traditional contract) to agree to something that you aren't told at the time and that may be unilaterally changed to anything else in the future. As it is, many jurisdictions hold many EULA terms to be unconscionable - even the most egregiously pro-EULA jurisdictions won't enforce a term like this.

          I'm not a lawyer, but I don't know what kind of idiot lawyer would tell somebody to put stuff like this in a contract when he knows it's unenforceable. The problem is that even though it's entirely unenforceable, it's not actually illegal to sneak anything you want into a contract. It would be nice if there were some sort of penalties to discourage this kind of thing. Unfortunately, bad PR doesn't work because nobody outside of Slashdot geeks and IP lawyers cares about this sort of thing, so stories about EULA hijinks go nowhere in the mainstream press.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:12PM (#31942880)
        That's pretty much boiler plate for any EULA or TOS. Here is Slashdot's version:
        Geeknet reserves the right, at Geeknet's sole discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of these Terms periodically.
        And that's in the first section of the TOS [geek.net].
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:06PM (#31941616) Homepage Journal
      One consequence is that you are blocked from PlayStation Network, which means no online play, no buying downloadable games or mods, and no renting movies. Another is that a lot of games won't run on any firmware older than the firmware update package on the disc.
      • No Playstation Network also means no updates to games to fix critical bugs. It's not much of an option.

      • That's the trojan that Sony is able to use. They can't force you to accept a new hardware EULA, but they can require in their PSN EULA that all devices connected have the latest firmware. If you don't accept the new Hardware EULA they take away PSN access, then pester you to update (or do it surrepticiously through a game disc). Since a PS3 is mostly worthless without network access, this is a pretty effective strategy to get their way.

        So the question is: will they automatically push this update along w

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Moryath ( 553296 )


          Aaaand that was the sound of the network cable being unplugged from my PS3.

          No more chance of my buying games from PSN (not like there were any good ones I don't have on a PS2 disc anyways), or bothering with their updates, or anything else. Fuck 'em. MS at least asks me up front to accept the update, and tells me point-blank that I can play as I will in the solo mode, just not on Xbox Live with a non-updated game. If Sony's going to pull this shit behind my back after bricking two loads of PS3's with

          • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

            by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:17PM (#31943014) Homepage

            Don't buy any new disc games, either. They could include the system update.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 )

            Dammit, I was just about to upgrade to PS3 just for God of War 3, and Bioshock 2 as a second game.

            Now I no longer care. I bought a PS2 when the hardware made Sony a profit, not during the loss-leader years. I now regret that, and now that the PS3 is profitable I'm not even buying the damned thing. PS2 emulation gone, linux gone, there's no incentive other than GOW3. I'll just play through it on my friend's box so I'm not missing anything. HTPC only, hopefully running a PS2 emulator and I can get rid of

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by wastedlife ( 1319259 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:53PM (#31942518) Homepage Journal

          I find it strange that the maligned Microsoft (and for good reason), keeps taking steps to improve the 360 both in features and extending the warranty to take care of a common issue, while Sony, who started off with a decent system has been systematically removing features with little to no return.

          What has been lost on the PS3:
          - Emotion Engine (hardware)
          - SACD playback (software)
          - USB 2.0 ports (hardware)
          - Full PS2 backwards compatibility (software)
          - Other OS Linux (software): retroactively disabled on older hardware as well now with the new update
          - SD and CF slots (hardware)

          What has been gained:
          - Media bar in-game
          - Trophies
          - Divx
          - Anything else?

          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

            by tb()ne ( 625102 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:55PM (#31943734)

            - Anything else?

            Under what has been lost: $300 in purchase price.

            Under what has been gained: PS Home, PS Store video rental/purchase, & Netflix.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Mad Leper ( 670146 )

            Let's have a close look at these claims of yours...

            What has been lost on the PS3:
            - Emotion Engine (hardware)
            First gen PS3 was very expensive, people bitched about the price and Sony responded by removing the PS2 compatibility. Sony still sells the PS2 console so there was no need to punish people who wanted a PS3 by forcing them to subsidize the PS2 owners. Less hardware = cheaper console.

            - SACD playback (software)
            Did anyone actually want this? While it's likely that a PS3 owner would have an HDTV, it's u

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by timeOday ( 582209 )

              Let's have a close look at these claims of yours...


              Summary: all the claims were true.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by feepness ( 543479 )

            - Anything else?

            -HDMI integration allowing control of PS3 from TV remote(hardware/software)
            -3D games and movies(software)
            -Move controller(software/hardware)
            -Better power consumption/size(hardware)
            -Reduced cost(hardware?)
            -Rumble(hardware) -- which they should have had to start with
            -PlayStation Home(software)

            Sorry, that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

          by SpecBear ( 769433 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:53PM (#31943692)

          That's the trojan that Sony is able to use.

          Hey, at least Sony is considerate enough to use a trojan when fucking its customers.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:08PM (#31941646)

      What are the consequences of refusing this firmware update?

      After awhile, it'll cease to have any networking support. Even the browser will turn off. Who knows -- it's proprietary. They might even have a logic bomb in there that after a year, it erases all your savegames, stomps on it's own dick, and declares war on Panama in your name, all while throwing the reds in with the whites and focusing microwave energies into your freezer to make your ice cream all melty.

    • LOL! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      LOL! What are you thinking? This is America, dammit. And in America, corporations are king. Corporations dictate the law. Corporations dictate how you can use their products, even when you've bought them outright. Corporations can change contracts whenever they want, however they want, and you just have to suck it up and enjoy it.

      Shit, son, if you're saying that the terms of contracts have to be honored, and can't be changed unilaterally by corporations, then that sounds damn near like SOCIALISM.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArundelCastle ( 1581543 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:11PM (#31941702)

      Both of your questions are answered by staying offline. (Eventually new game discs will have a mandatory firmware update included as well.)
      You agree to the EULA of the firmware version that you are using. There is no EULA for the hardware.
      It's not much different than refusing a policy update from a web service like PayPal. The condition (or "price" if you prefer) of using a service is compliance with its rules.

      You can do whatever you want with the hardware you bought. But you can't do it in Sony's yard.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:30PM (#31942050) Homepage Journal

      What are the consequences of refusing this firmware update?

      You should have thought of the consequences of buying computer gear from a company who would put rootkits on music CDs before you bought it. Having XCP root my computer when my daughter ran the software on it, never dreaming that a big name like Sony would install malware, was the end of my Sony purchases. It's not a boycott, it's self-preservation. There's no way I'll ever trust them again, and neither will my daughter.

      I have no sympathy for anybody who buys Sony, no matter how shoddily Sony treats them. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
        I too am boycotting Sony, having purchased a Sony DVD Dream System that was more like a nightmare. I also once bought a Sony MP3 player that would only play music with Sony's DRM wrapper added by SonicStage, NOT unmodified MP3 files. I returned this to the store on the basis that labeling it as an "MP3 Player" was fraudulent.
  • GEOHOT! (Score:3, Informative)

    by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:02PM (#31941536)
    Guess that means that hacked firmware is the way to go, and keep your machine offline.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:04PM (#31941578)

    Kinda sorta sounds familiar . . . but I dunno . . .

    Would a company like Sony rootkit their customers . . .?

  • Future of consoles (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jacks smirking reven ( 909048 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:04PM (#31941584)
    Who else can see all consoles going this way? Part of the appeal to content producers and the console makers themselves is having consistent and complete control over the platform. It's things like this that will hopefully keep the PC relevant as a gaming and entertainment platform
    • This is what differentiates appliances from a PC. What are people expecting? Why should Sony waste time and resources on optional firmware updates? Ultimately the additional cost would be passed on to consumers.

      • by nigelo ( 30096 )

        Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.~ C.S. Lewis

        Your sig would tend to disagree with you, apparently.

        I'm just sayin'...

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:04PM (#31941590) Journal
    At the end of the EULA there's an agreement that you agree to an expanded EULA online that morphs and changes as Sony sees fit. I tracked down the extra bullet points:
    • By agreeing to this you allow Sony to house and feed shocktroops as they pass through your city in your civilian houses and from your civilian food stocks.
    • In the event that Sony finishes a year in the red, you agree to become liable to pay a portion of restitution such that the sum of all signees of this EULA pays Sony back to profitability.
    • By signing this EULA you agree to name (or rename) your first born child "Sonny" or (in the absence of a 'Y' chromosome) "Sonya."
    • After agreeing to this EULA, you will start all prayers and services -- regardless of denomination -- with "The Lord Our God Sony who Art in Playstation."
    • By agreeing to this, you will be issued a Sony Playstation Network UID which will be tattooed on your forearm by a Sony representative and will be needed to activate the Playstation 3.
    • In the next console war, should conscription take place your Sony PSN UID will determine your eligibility for the draft so please do not lose the aforementioned tattoo.

    Sounds pretty reasonable. At least there's no mention of rootkits for now.

  • by kusanagi374 ( 776658 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:05PM (#31941600)

    This pretty much disgusts me as a customer, because most likely it means I won't be able to play newer games on my PS3 without worrying that they might be messing around with my system and removing functions I enjoy using on my system. The summary fails to add that Sony also says it's not their fault if they end up bricking your PS3. So, besides having a new flash pushed down your throat, if it fails you have to pay to have it fixed.

    No, thanks. I'll stick to my DS Lite and Wii (which is still running System Menu 4.0 and had the IOS files updated using DopIOSMod), where I actually do have enough freedom of what I can or cannot do with my BOUGHT hardware.

  • EULAs aren't the most legally bind 'agreements' at the best of times. But one that applies retroactively is ridiculous even by EULA standards.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Trouble is, you can only fight EULAs by starting expensive court cases.
      EULAs are basically a catch-22 as far as the customer is concerned; screwed if you agree to it, screwed if you don't.

  • Surprised? (Score:2, Informative)

    by MXPS ( 1091249 )
    Is anyone really surprised? I don't think so. Sony saying one thing and then doing the complete opposite is nothing new.
  • Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:10PM (#31941688) Homepage
    EULAs say all kinds of crazy stuff that never actually get done. I seen ones that border on 'signing' away Constitutional rights. But I've ever heard of a single case of a legitimate, license-holding, console-owning user being forced to do something awful because of EULA verbage. Like buying a house. All real estate loans since forever ago allow the bank to 'call' the entire loan amount at any time for any reason. But they never actually do. They just was you to know they can.

    If Sony releases a firmware update that pisses off more than a tiny percentage of users, they will undoubtedly reverse it. And if that tiny percentage of modders/cheaters/hobbyists or whatever else are really hacked off by the update, then they should sell their PS3's on Ebay for 80% of what you paid for it and move on with their lives for God's sake.
    • by Zenaku ( 821866 )

      All real estate loans since forever ago allow the bank to 'call' the entire loan amount at any time for any reason. But they never actually do. They just was you to know they can.

      Citation, please. I'm fairly certain that practice was outlawed in the 1930's, so long as the borrower has not missed any payments.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      It's like buying a book and, halfway through, the publisher comes around and rips out the last chapters.

      People should just sell the rest of the book on Ebay and move on with their lives, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by russotto ( 537200 )

      All real estate loans since forever ago allow the bank to 'call' the entire loan amount at any time for any reason.

      False. Nearly all residential real-estate loans can be called only on sale or default. Call-on-demand got a very bad reputation when banks actually used it in the Great Depression. And mine cannot be declared in default because the value of the collateral went down, unless I _caused_ it to go down through action or neglect. Falling real-estate values don't do it.

    • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Informative)

      by dank zappingly ( 975064 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @02:46PM (#31943542)
      IAL. I read, review and edit real estate loan documentation all day. I have never seen the term you are referring to, and would never allow a client to sign a document with that term in it. Generally it is considered bad practice to sign a document with terms you do not agree with and hope that the other party does not enforce them. Also, if they did not ever intend to enforce a term, why would anyone put it in?
  • I know these recent steps by Sony are done with the aim to prevent modding of PS3s, but these moves will actually drive more PS3 owners to mod or hack their PS3s.

  • I'm still disappointed over the removal of the OtherOS feature. That being said, this extension to the EULA is neither surprising or actually useful in any way. By limiting my access to the PSN (and the downloadable games and content I have purchased through it) Sony has already basically forced me into updating my PS3 firmware any damn time they feel like it. So to claim they have the right to do so automatically doesn't really have any more of a negative impact beyond what I already suffer.
  • by chaim79 ( 898507 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:22PM (#31941882) Homepage

    I haven't updated to the 3.21 firmware (the one that disables Other OS), and I suspect many others have ignored the update as well. I'm betting Sony sees this and in response has decided the best way to go is to force future updates down our throat, not giving us the option.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:23PM (#31941890) Journal
    If Sony wishes to house a device under their control on my premises, I hope they won't mind being invoiced for my (very reasonable, I assure you) colocation fees...
    • what ~$5k per month? that sounds reasonable to allow them to have access to your LAN and WAN, assuming you are an individual and not a company (then it would be ~$5M+ )
  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:24PM (#31941920)

    Not sure why Sony is taking the heat for it more than others. Maybe it's because the good guys like Valve wouldn't pull this crap on us!

    http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/ [steampowered.com]

    2.A. License Terms.

    Steam and your Subscription(s) require the automatic download and installation of software and other content and updates onto your computer ("Steam Software"). You may not use Steam Software for any purpose other than the permitted access to Steam and your Subscriptions. You understand that for reasons that include, without limitation, system security, stability, and multiplayer interoperability, Steam may need to automatically update, pre-load, create new versions or otherwise enhance the Steam Software and accordingly, the system requirements to use the Steam Software may change over time. You understand that neither this Agreement nor the terms associated with a particular Subscription entitles you to future updates, new versions or other enhancements of the Steam Software associated with a particular Subscription although Valve may choose to provide such updates, etc. in its sole discretion.

    Face it, all EULAs are designed so that the seller (ha, I mean licensor of course!) can screw you all they want. You just have to hope they don't do it.

  • Curious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dhermann ( 648219 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:31PM (#31942060)

    A strange maxim to apply: the principles of capitalism say that if Sony decided to discontinue the PS3 and brick every system (say, directly after the release of the PS4), consumers would be free not to purchase Sony products anymore and a competitor would exploit the company's poor behavior and corrective action would naturally result. On the other hand, the principles of jurisprudence over property say that the same action would be trespass to chattels (i.e. something similar to destruction of property) without the normal coupling of aftermark modification. A party cannot interfere with the lawful possession of property by another.

    But that argument returns to the client/server nature of the property in question: is it intentional conversion if your wireless company stopped accepting connections from your particular model of phone? The phone is clearly property that you own and free from restriction beyond the federal regulations regarding airborne communication, but so are the towers owned by the service provider.

    These questions just go to show that a large portion of property law is theoretical and has not been litigated. Fascinating nonetheless.

  • by wrightrocket ( 1664871 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:33PM (#31942102)
    When I decided to buy the PS3, it made that choice based on the fact that I could legally run Linux on it, as well as use it for a game console. What happened to the promise in the commercials that "It does everything?" I refuse to install any update that takes away this important functionality, and will continue to use the system as a computer. I have already filed a complaint against Sony with the Federal Trade Commission. I will never buy any more games for it, and I will never buy another Sony products again. Sony you can stick it to everyone else, but you've lost this customer, and any profit that you will ever gain from me again.
  • by jshannon00 ( 1795732 ) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:45PM (#31942352)
    I decided to read the entirety of the new EULA before the update yesterday, after the whole "Other OS" situation, and the bottom line is that you, as a user of the PS3, are only licensing the software on the system.

    You own the plastic and the metal of the console, and can do anything you want with it. You do not own the system software on the machine. This means no reverse engineering the system software, no editing the software, no reselling or redistribution of the software. This includes editing the software to circumvent encryption or DRM on any medium you play on the console, or editing it in any way to use the system software as a gateway to installing another OS or apps. The Other OS hack that is currently out now is in direct violation of the user's licensing agreement.

    You can turn your PS3 into a doorstop, or you can run any OS or apps you want on it, AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT MESS WITH THE INCLUDED SYSTEM SOFTWARE. If you can code an entirely new system software to run the PS3 WITHOUT using any preexisting code from the system software included with the PS3, you are welcome to do so, and I encourage someone with the skills to do so to attempt this.

    If you have ever pressed "Accept" while updating your system software, then you have agreed to play by Sony's rules, which is just fine for me and the other 95% of the people using the PS3 to play games and watch movies.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.