Federal judge dismisses PS3 Linux claims

A federal judge has unceremoniously dismissed all remaining claims that Sony reneged on its promise to allow Playstation 3 video game consoles to function as full-fledged computers.

Indeed, early marketing campaigns by the Japanese-based corporation advertised the console as a system that would allow users to “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.”

However, an April 2010 PS3 firmware update effectively disabled support for the “OtherOS,” prompting lead plaintiff Anthony Ventura to file suit against the company. 

According to documents obtained by CourtHouse News Service and GamaSutra, Ventura said he opted for a Playstation 3 because Sony offered Linux support – even though the console was “substantially more expensive” than the Xbox 360 or Nintendo’s Wii.

“The 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.”

All but one of Ventura’s claims were actually dismissed (with leave to amend) in February 2011, after U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled the plaintiffs had failed to state a viable claim.

“While it cannot be concluded as a matter of law at this juncture that Sony could, without legal consequence, force its customers to choose either to forego installing the software update or to lose access to the other OS feature, the present allegations of the complaint largely fail to state a claim,” Seeborg wrote in February.

“Accordingly, with the exception of one count, the motion to dismiss will be granted, with leave to amend.”

This past Thursday, Seeborg granted Sony’s motion to dismiss any remaining claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The federal judge reiterated his ruling that the plaintiffs failed to prove they had a right to expect the “OtherOS” feature beyond Sony’s warranty period or at the expense of continued access to the Playstation Network (PSN).

“The dismay and frustration at least some PS3 owners likely experienced when Sony made the decision to limit access to the PSN service to those who were willing to disable the OtherOS feature on their machines was no doubt genuine and understandable.

“As a matter of providing customer satisfaction and building loyalty, it may have been questionable. As a legal matter, however, plaintiffs have failed to allege facts or articulate a theory on which Sony may be held liable,” he added.