Good News for PS3 Owners, Sort of

You may not know it, but your gaming console is a powerful, compact, and inexpensive computer. With the right operating system and applications, it is capable of doing a lot more than running the newest first person shooter.

When it released the PS3, Sony used that fact to entice customers who thought it would be fun to install Linux on their consoles. Sony touted the "Install Other OS" function, which enabled console owners to do just that. But in March of 2010, Sony issued a firmware upgrade that disabled this functionality, and for many users stripped their device of much of its value. In an all too familiar story, a company's ability to force software "upgrades" proved a powerful tool for limiting the functionality of devices consumers thought they owned.

After years of litigation, the US District Court for the Northern District of California approved a class action settlement that compensates PS3 owners for Sony's overreach. While we think the court and the parties reached a reasonable resolution here, most of these sorts of abuses don't result in recovery by consumers. And even when they do, a check for a few dollars—six years after the fact—is a poor substitute for the right to use your property as you see fit.