Sony to pay out millions to settle PlayStation 3 Linux lawsuit

The Sony PlayStation 3 console has been quite a success for the company. However, it turns out that not all of you bought the console just to play games and Sony got sued for that.


The Sony PlayStation 3 console has been quite a success for the company. However, it turns out that not all of you bought the console just to play games and Sony got sued for that. It now looks like they'll have to pay millions of dollars to settle the lawsuit.

If you remember the initial days of the PS3, Sony had marketed the console as having Linux support out-of-the-box. Unfortunately, for Sony and a certain group of gamers, Sony’s update 3.21 axed support for Linux, citing security concerns. Sony claimed that they removed the feature for “security purposes,” but gamers who sued the company alleged that Sony did it out of fear of piracy and hacking.

The patch was released in 2010 and affected all “fat” PS3 models available at the time. The slimmer version of the PS3 console had been launched earlier that year. Sony insisted that the update was voluntary, which was actually true, but without the update, gamers wouldn’t be able to access the PlayStation Network or take advantage of subsequent updates and couldn’t even access media servers.

In April 2010, gamers filed a class action lawsuit against Sony, stating in the lawsuit that the removal of Linux support was an “intentional disablement of the valuable functionalities originally advertised as available with the Sony PlayStation 3 video game console. This disablement is not only a breach of the sales contract between Sony and its customers and a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, but it is also an unfair and deceptive business practice perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting consumers."

To counter the lawsuit, Sony argued that the feature was niche and that a very small number of users were affected. They also argued that their terms of service allowed them to remove the feature at their discretion.

The case has been dragged in and out of court for the last 6 years now and Sony has finally decided to settle. A judge is yet to sign off on the settlement offer, but what Sony is offering is the following:

  • Sony will pay $55 to users of the PS3 who will state under oath that they purchased a PS3, provide proof of purchase and their PSN ID as well as submit proof of their use of the “Other OS” functionality. They will also need to provide proof of their installation of a Linux OS on the system.
  • Sony will pay $9 to gamers who submit a claim stating that they knew about the Other OS functionality, relied on that functionality and intended to use that functionality.

If you’re in India and excited at the prospect of getting $55 (or $9) from Sony, prepare to be disappointed. The offer is only available to those residing in the United States and to “fat” PS3 consoles purchased between November 1, 2006 and April 1, 2010.

The proposal will be heard by a judge on July 19. The number of affected consoles exceeds 10 million, but it remains to be seen how many gamers will come forward to claim compensation with the requisite proof.

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