Norway to probe Sony's PS3 Linux 'downgrade'
Unreasonable change, consumer org claims
A government agency in Norway has reported Sony to the Consumer Ombudsman after floods of complaints over removal of "Other OS" functionality from PlayStation 3 consoles.
Norway's Consumer Council claims Sony breached the Norwegian Marketing Control Act, by withdrawing a key feature after sale. It says Sony's terms of service are unreasonable and leave the consumer without any legal protection.
The consequence of the Other OS removal, means it's no longer possible to install any operating systems other than Sony's own. With the PlayStation 3 hacked recently, Sony will no doubt claim the removal is a necessary means to tackle piracy.
The company previously said removed Other OS because of "security concerns", though did not elaborate as to what it was specifically worried about, but the company is currently fighting "GeoHot", a well-known hacker, in the US courts, in an attempt to eradicate the PS3-rooting tools he has developed.
"There needs to be a limit to what constitutes a reasonable change to products we buy." says Thomas Nortvedt of the Consumer Council. "When a company uses terms like updates or upgrades, it is reasonable to expect a significant improvement of the product and not the risk of being stuck with a lesser product".
The Consumer Ombudsman will try to reach a compromise between the two parties. If this can't be achieved, the issue can be taken to the Market Council with the power to ban unlawful marketing and contract terms if within the interest of consumers. ®
Hat tip to Extrospection for the news tip.
Except the homebrew scene, or those looking for cheap computing power to run models, or a cheap Bly ray media centre....
In the UK, the unfair contracts rule can apply. If the end user HAD to agree T+Cs in order to continue to use one feature (online gaming) and therefore lost the other feature (Other OS) then that would be construed as unfair. $ony gave the user no way if keeping their previously promised features.
Nice to see there is a consumer affairs authority that still sides with the consumer.
words and that.
You can say what you want in your T&Cs (e.g. I will take a pound of your flesh, and your firstborn), but if those terms are "unfair" to a consumer then they may as well not exist.
I haven't read anything about hackers using otherOS to compromise the security of the console, and recent events would seem to suggest that removing it didn't even matter. Others may even say that the removal of OtherOS is what prompted some to work out how to sign things to run them on it.
As for uses of OtherOS, I've seen photos of rooms of PSs networked and number-crunching away on various tasks (e.g. protein folding, material sciences particularly superconduction), using the OtherOS option to run software.
Now there may be an issue that Sony sold the PS3s at a loss, expecting to make up for it with the exhorbitant prices of the games. If that is the case, then it's a business gamble gone wrong, but no excuse to deactivate old consoles.
seems to suggest that they are looking to see whether the T&C's (which as you say allowed it) are fair and legal.
If not, then they are irrelevant.
You can agree to a set of T&Cs containing "You agree that if you Distribute this software without permission, we may behead you", doesn't mean the developer actually has the right to set or enforce that particular term.
As I understood it, copyright infringement was almost impossible on the PS3 before Sony pissed people of by removing OtherOS. Unless I'm remembering wrongly, GeoHotz expanded upon some work that was done by another group so that people could use Linux.
The PS3 was widely sought after because of it's OtherOS functionality, the Cell processor means it was good for quite a range of research. Those using it for that can still do so as long as they don't want to also use it for Gaming. Pure Gamers won't even have noticed the change, it's those in the middle that have got stuck.
I'm not saying it won't be thrown out though, I don't know much about Norwegian law so all I can really say on that is that I hope it isn't (despite not having a PS3, I'd rather not see companies think they can get away with such behaviour).