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PS3 owners can now file claims in class-action Linux lawsuit

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Get up to $55 from Sony

PlayStation 3 launch model
The original “Fat” PlayStation 3.
William Hook/Flickr

Sony customers who purchased one of the original launch PlayStation 3 consoles can now submit claims in a nationwide class-action lawsuit regarding the company’s removal of Linux support from the system, according to a settlement notice sent out today.

The lawsuit, which is known as In re Sony PS3 "Other OS" Litigation and has been working its way through the courts for more than six years, concerns the "OtherOS" feature that the PS3 had at launch. OtherOS allowed users to set aside part of their PS3’s hard drive and install Linux on that partition. But Sony, citing security concerns, removed the feature with a system software update in April 2010. That led aggrieved customers to sue the company later that year, alleging breach of warranty, false advertising and other offenses.

Sony and the plaintiffs reached a proposed settlement this past June, and a federal judge granted preliminary approval in September. Anybody who purchased a "Fat" PS3 — yes, that’s how the lawsuit officially refers to the consoles in question — between Nov. 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010, is eligible to participate in the settlement. (As is customary in settlements of this sort, Sony is not admitting any wrongdoing.)

Under the terms of the agreement, the settlement class is split into two groups. U.S. residents who purchased a "Fat" PS3 during those dates, known as Consumer Class B, are eligible for a payment of $9 each. U.S. residents who did so and actually used the OtherOS feature — Consumer Class A — are eligible to receive $55 each.

Claimants must submit claim forms on the settlement website, in addition to proof of purchase for the PS3 plus a PlayStation Network ID used on that PS3 before April 1, 2010. Claimants in Class A must also submit proof that they used the OtherOS feature. (For more details, see the FAQ on the settlement website.) The deadline to file claims is Dec. 7. The court will hold a hearing on Jan. 24, 2017, to decide whether to approve the settlement; if it is approved and there are no appeals, payments will be sent out approximately 40 days afterward.

As for how much Sony will end up paying in the settlement, the total depends on a few factors, including how many claims are approved. Sony had sold 13.5 million PS3s in the U.S. by November 2010, seven months after the period of eligibility for this lawsuit. However, the company had launched the "Slim" redesign of the console in September 2009, so a decent portion of the 13.5 million units would have been Slim systems — and thus, ineligible for this class-action lawsuit. It’s also unclear how many PS3 owners actually bothered to install Linux; paying $9 to a few million customers is very different from paying $55 to a group of the same size.