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PlayStation 3 violates the Norwegian Marketing Control Act

27. januar, 2011

Sony can do as they like to your PlayStation 3 after you have bought it. The company’s terms of service leaves the consumer without any legal protection.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has gone through the terms of service for Sony PlayStation 3 and Playstation Network and decided to file a complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman regarding a breach of the Norwegian Marketing Control Act.

– Sony claims a universal right to change or remove functionality from the gaming console. In our opinion this is in clear violation of the Marketing Control Act, and not the least it’s a breach of trust between the consumer and Sony, says Head of Section Thomas Nortvedt in the Norwegian Consumer Council.

Removed functionality

The Consumer Council received several complaints following the software update to PlayStation 3 in April 2010, where Sony removed “OtherOS” and the possibility to install and use other operating systems than Sony’s own. As a consequence, the use of PlayStation 3 is limited to what is offered by Sony’s own OS, furthermore removing the option to install Linux which in turn would make the PlayStation 3 a regular PC.

– Digital services are not covered by consumer legislation, thus leaving the case outside the Consumer Council’s competence. The result is that the consumer is left with user agreements that give them very few rights and poor protection, says Thomas Nortvedt.

– When Sony, through the internet connection, removes functionality arguing that it is an update, it proves just how little protection the consumer has in the digital age.

Always connected

Consumer electronics is increasingly offered with some form of online connectivity and functionality. A side effect is that it grants the manufacturer access to the product. This access, combined with terms of service giving the company extensive rights to do almost whatever he or she wants, leaves the consumer with the short end of the stick.

– Most users of digital services want improved services through updates. More often than not, these changes are needed to ensure services that live up to the user’s expectations, continues Nortvedt.

– But there are examples of companies that have made detrimental changes to the products or removed functionality, without giving the user any means to object to the changes.

Criterion for updates

– There needs to be a limit to what constitutes a reasonable change to products we buy. Terms of service that grant the manufacturer full access to literally downgrade the product or limit the functionality are unreasonable and in clear violation of the Marketing Control Act, says Thomas Nortvedt.

– When a company use 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, concludes Nortvedt.

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