I'm not sure that I'd agree with the statement that this is "bullying".
Like the article said, Sony sold consoles at a loss on the assumption that
they'd make money back on game sales (and possibly online subscriptions,
though they seem to have abandoned that for now).
Researchers were taking advantage of the Linux option to get subsidized
cell PCs from Sony. The thing is, Sony is a company, not a charity, and
they've racked up awful losses the last few years. They couldn't possibly
justify this loss-making subsidy to their investors.
A better option would be to charge a fee for allowing "foreign" OS
installs, effectively covering the cost of the subsidy.
In the meantime, I can't help but think that anyone who's already bought
Playstations as research boxes are fine, they've already installed Linux,
and they have little or no need for "firmware" upgrades which are just
fixes to the PS3 OS, and to the best of my knowledge have no real relation
to actual firmware (in the classic PC sense) at all. So researchers who
took advantage of this aren't being ripped off.
The only people who could claim to have been duped were people who bought
it because they could install Linux on it, but never got round to it. These
people still have the opportunity to do that, they just now have to decide
is it a gaming machine, or a work machine: they can't have it both ways.