updated 08:20 pm EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Judge dismisses PlayStation case on lack of ground
Judge Richard Seeborg is now known to have completely dismissed the PlayStation 3 Other OS lawsuit late last week. A ruling made public on Tuesday (below) eliminated the one remaining complaint of violation surrounding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. While sympathetic to the gamers for losing the ability to boot Linux on the PS3, Judge Seeborg determined that Anthony Ventura and other plaintiffs hadn't persuaded the court that Sony was legally responsible.
"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 Other OS feature on their machines was no doubt genuine and understandable," the judge wrote. "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."
Most of his issue centered on Ventura being unable to show that Sony officially owed any support for the Other OS booting feature beyond the warranty period. Similarly, PlayStation Network access also wasn't considered a right as part of ownership.
The plaintiffs were denied both a leave to amend the case, or to change the claims in hopes of passing muster. Sony saw a minor loss as an attempt to moot the class action status was denied, although without a case, it had no real effect.
Sony originally pulled the feature in March 2010. The decision was superficially for security purposes, and did discourage game cheating, but it's widely known that the real reason was to cut back on piracy, real or perceived. Some, though not all, using Other OS were taking advantage of it as a back door to get around copy protection.
In the long term, the decision to pull support for dual booting may have been one of the larger mistakes in the PlayStation's history. It encouraged well-known hacker George Hotz and others to jailbreak the regular firmware, triggering a scorched-earth lawsuit where Sony tried to erase the existence of jailbreaks but ultimately got just a modest settlement that may have actually helped the reputation of Hotz and drawn attention to jailbreaking. That hostility towards users very likely spurred on the infamous April 2011 hack that forced Sony to shut off PSN for three weeks and cost it $171 million dollars. [via Courthouse News Service]