Sony agrees to pay millions to gamers in PS3 Linux settlement

After six years of litigation, Sony is now agreeing to pay the price for its 2010 firmware update that removed support for the Linux operating system in the PlayStation 3.

Sony and lawyers representing as many as 10 million console owners reached the deal on Friday. Under the terms of the accord, (PDF) which has not been approved by a California federal judge yet, gamers are eligible to receive $55 if they used Linux on the console. The proposed settlement, which will be vetted by a judge next month, also provides $9 to each console owner that bought a PS3 based on Sony’s claims about “Other OS” functionality.

The deal also provides up to $2.25 million in attorneys’ fees for the lawyers who brought suit. Under the plan, gamers eligible for a cash payment are “all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010.” The accord did not say how much it would cost Sony, but the entertainment company is expected to pay out millions.

The troubles began with the PS3 software update 3.21. On March 28, 2010, Sony announced that the update would “disable the ‘Install Other OS’ feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models.” This feature, Sony claimed, would be removed “due to security concerns.”

Sony did not detail those “concerns,” but the litigation alleged piracy was behind the decision. “Sony’s concerned that the Other OS feature might be used by hackers to copy and/or steal gaming and other content, the suit said.” Making matters worse, Sony said the update was voluntary. However, without updating, console owners couldn’t connect to the PlayStation Network, play any games online, play any games or Blu-ray movies that required the new firmware, play any files kept on a media server, or download any future updates.

Before the settlement, Sony argued that its terms of service allowed it to remove the Other OS feature and that the functionality wasn’t that big of a deal for most console owners.

While the deal still needs a judge’s signature, here’s what the settlement says about how gamers can get their cash:

To get the $55, a gamer “must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality.” To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim that, at the time they bought their console, they “knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality.”

Alternatively, according to the deal, to get $9, a gamer “may attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010.”

Sony is agreeing to employ the PlayStation network’s e-mail database to notify its customers about the settlement. “Additionally, the Notice Program provides for Internet notice via banner ads and search-related advertising on CNET, IGN, and other websites intended to reach the targeted audience based on market research from GfK Mediamark Research, Inc. and comScore,” according to the deal, which also spells out the use of social media to alert class members about the settlement.

A hearing on the proposed deal was scheduled for 2pm, July 19, before US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, in Oakland, California.

Source: ArsTechnica