Print 47 comment(s) - last by Schrag4.. on Jan 14 at 11:22 AM

George "geohot" Hotz, circa 2007  (Source: ISEF on FlickrGeorg)
Sony plans to put the DMCA amendments and its foes legal budgets to the test

About a week and a half ago, George "geohot" Hotz and the team of firmware hackers dubbed fail0verflow (Hector Cantero, Sven Peter, "Bushing," "Segher," and other anonymous members) released the root keys for the Sony PS3 via a smart phone hack.  Those keys allow virtually any app to be run on the PS3, a critical step to re-enabling the Linux support that Sony abandoned.

Needless to say Sony was less than enthused.  Claiming the release would promote piracy; Sony yesterday filed a restraining order [blog] against geohot and the members of fail0verflow citing Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act violations and copyright violations.

Today they followed up that up with a full copyright infringement lawsuit [Scribd].  The suit was filed in San Francisco District Court.

Sony claims that geohot, in circumvent its copy protections.  It says that the geohot and the other named defendants:

  • Violated section §1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbids bypassing access control measures;
  • Violated section §1030 the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which forbids accessing computers without authorization;
  • Contributed to copyright infringement in violation of section §501 of the Copyright Act
  • Violated trespass, "common law misappropriation", breach of contract, "tortious interference with contractual relations" as per Penal Code §502 of the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act (commonly referred to as the California Computer Crime Law)

We're not lawyers, but as Jay-Z says we "know a little bit".  But all of these charges seem pretty tenuous.

The DMCA accusation is weakened by the Library of Congress's recent addition the DMCA, stating that in the cell phone arena it is permissible to:

Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset. 

If it is permissible for cell phone apps, it seems unclear why it wouldn't be similarly permissible for gaming consoles.

Similarly, the Computer Fraud accusation seems tenuous, given that geohot and others reportedly owned legally purchased PS3s and thus should be authorized to access them.

Lastly, the California Computer Crime Law violations seem somewhat hard to prove, given that Sony will have to establish their business was being significantly harmed via the distribution of the root keys.

Still Sony is a company with a lot of money and power so geohot, et al better retain top notch legal aid and better find someone(s) (quickly) to bankroll that legal campaign.  Of course, given all of his clashes with Apple, we're guessing Mr. Hotz has a pretty good lawyer on retainer.

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Too late
By UnWeave on 1/12/2011 5:28:00 PM , Rating: 5
The key is out there; the damage has already been done. I don't see what Sony is hoping to achieve here. I mean, really, have they still not learnt that legal action isn't going to stop anyone?

I guess at least they're not actually asking for any money [yet], it's just a 'stop that crap, right now'.

RE: Too late
By dagamer34 on 1/12/2011 5:31:22 PM , Rating: 3
The message is clearly "think twice about cracking the PS4"

RE: Too late
By MozeeToby on 1/12/2011 5:39:23 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, but before that there was an ever clearer message going in the other direction: "Give the homebrewers decent access and there will be no one with both the skills and motive to hack the system".

Seriously, 5 years with Linux available and hardly a peep out of the hacking community. Remove Linux and less than a year later the entire system, top to bottom, is compromised. Learn from your mistakes Sony, your DRM would have lasted through the whole generation if you hadn't pulled the bait and switch on the hobbyists.

RE: Too late
By zmatt on 1/12/2011 7:20:12 PM , Rating: 2
I have a book dedicated to hacking game consoles for extra functionality and the PS2 and PS1 are featured. Sony obviously had no problem with anyone messing with those. I hope they loose this, I was PO'ed when they dropped Linux support, not that I was using it for that, but I felt like my rights as the owner of the physical console was being taken away. When you sell the console you shouldn't be allowed to change the terms of service and bar people form doing what they want with it.

RE: Too late
By Samus on 1/13/2011 2:59:16 AM , Rating: 3
They lacked a large online user base, so their wasn't as much of a threat. Also, by the time the PS2 was hacked with Messiah, and refined chips surfaced, Sony was already going through revisions to cut costs making modchips incompatible as future generations of PS2 were released (10 versions of the PS2 were made, and it wasn't until the PS3 was released that a universal modchip made it to market.)

The online nature of the PS3 and XBOX 360 threaten Sony and Microsoft far more than in the past with 'offline' consoles. Even the original XBOX, which was hacked and modded by many, didn't threaten Microsoft nearly as much as the XBOX 360 hacks because back then, Live wasn't what it is now, an brand that sells consoles. If it is threatened, like Playstation Online is with this hack, the online eco-system of the console is threatened. Hacking/cheating in games running unsigned code is just the obvious paranoia these companies have.

However, this lawsuit is ultra lame, and honestly, I don't see how sueing them is going to resolve anything. The exploits are posted and Sony should work on a firmware that simply disables them. Sony spends a lot of time updating firmwares on PSPs without sueing DarkAlex (although they've threatened) but honestly, I don't know exactly what laws they are breaking. They're not profiting from this.

RE: Too late
By Lugaidster on 1/12/2011 6:42:41 PM , Rating: 4
To me the message is, do it anonymously.

RE: Too late
By mattclary on 1/12/2011 6:55:45 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Too late
By Makaveli on 1/12/2011 7:45:06 PM , Rating: 1
While doing it anonymously is the best idea it just doesn't work with hackers. After they have spent thousands of man hours trying to hack the system and succeed. Everyone must know they did it. The problem is you are telling the lawyers where to find you.

Not only did he do it for the challenge i've seen quotes saying he wanted sony to hire him.

If it was me I would have hacked it and be a ghost in a sea of a billion faces on the internet.

As someone else said all sony has to do it tie you up in court for a few years and your life will be fucked and they will continue to move on and will just step on the next bug that decides to shit on their breakfast.

Money rules the court system and sony will smile and laugh in your face while you are going bankrupt.

At the end of the day i'm glad he did it but I think he could have been smarter about it.

RE: Too late
By vol7ron on 1/12/2011 10:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
Unless, you're part of a community that wishes to fund the court fees.

Not to mention, frivolous lawsuits (as this may be), are often payed for by the plaintiff.

I can just see Jobs saying, "you get geo and others off our back, we'll work out that tv/phone deal you mentioned."

RE: Too late
By Flunk on 1/12/2011 11:03:09 PM , Rating: 1
You just need to do it in a country with less draconian DRM laws. Canada, the UK, most of Europe but not France.

RE: Too late
By Dwayne Bozworth on 1/12/2011 8:27:56 PM , Rating: 5
Naah, more like, "think twice before *BUYING THE PS4*"

Sony's draconian view that it still owns the hardware post-sale is silly. Maybe starting with the PS4, they should offer Playstation hardware for $3.95 a week to make it abundantly clear that users don't own the hardware in any shape or form.

With any luck, we'll see something similar to "Microsoft v. Zamos" tested in court.


RE: Too late
By Phoque on 1/13/2011 5:24:57 PM , Rating: 2
For me the message is: "F***, we've screwed up security big time on the Ps3, let's not be as incompetent for the Ps4."

RE: Too late
By mattclary on 1/12/2011 6:54:37 PM , Rating: 3
I don't see what Sony is hoping to achieve here.

They want the hack to gain Barbara Streisand levels of fame, obviously. ;)

RE: Too late
By Aloonatic on 1/14/2011 5:50:09 AM , Rating: 2
Not all actions are reactive, and just about what has happened. I assume that they are sending out a message that they wont tolerate this and are willing to go after people, even with the negative press that it will probably generate etc.

If it puts doubt in hackers' minds, and discourages even 1 serious hacker who might want to try their hand at the PS4, and they achieve the same success as they have with the PS3 in delaying (the almost inevitable) hacking of their console (I don't know anyone who has a hacked PS3, yet by this time in the life-cycle of other PSs, plenty of people had them, probably due to more eaily detected/blocked on-line play putting people off too, of course) then it's all worth it for them.

In saying that, this sort of action might have the opposite effect for some, as being taken to court/sued by a company like Sony is perhaps an incentive to some hackers, who want the publicity and notoriety that will come from this.

They never learn
By petrosy on 1/12/2011 5:59:06 PM , Rating: 5
Instead of not drawing attention to it and trying to patch what is possible...

They respond with a lawsuit which will hit every techblog which in essence is advertising for the hacks.

Too little too late.... they should of thought of this befoer they took the Linux option away!

RE: They never learn
By HrilL on 1/12/2011 8:14:25 PM , Rating: 5
Completely agree. Sony sold the PS3 with Linux support and advertised it. I'm pretty sure bait and switch advertising is illegal.(Not sure how Sony is getting around that) Where is the FTC protecting our rights as consumers when that is in fact their job.

I have been very surprised at how long it has taken for the PS3 to get fully cracked. PS2 took what less than a year. PS3 almost 5? Xbox 360 a few months (thanks to firmware flashing on the dvd-rom) Just giving people mostly working Linux seemed to be the thing holding everyone back. Sony deserves everything they got from this. They lied and stole from the consumer and that should never be tolerated and it looks like it wasn't.

I've personally never owned a console but I am all for consumer rights and hate any rights trampled upon.

RE: They never learn
By tastyratz on 1/13/2011 11:13:32 AM , Rating: 2
From their side you have a license to use the hardware. you were not forced to update you chose to update and retain psn privileges. I do not think it is right or support Sony in that respect but this wasn't snatched while people were sleeping. It did however awaken beasts and the harder you push the larger the rebellion.

Case in point: Sony sues Fail0verflow - F0 released all of their source code in response. This includes utilities FAR more damaging to sony than those with which were previously available.

Geohot and f0 never enabled piracy, they publicly frowned on it and pushed for homebrew support. They laid the groundwork and others built upon their releases... but it was never a direct intention.

psx scene and ps3hax news sites have been EXPLODING with releases every day now. The ps3 scene is thriving and there are some that say we have more access to the console than any other console ever released including xbox1. It is totally irreversibly compromised at this point.

+1 for freedom

RE: They never learn
By NaughtyGeek on 1/13/2011 12:51:56 PM , Rating: 3
you were not forced to update you chose to update and retain psn privileges.

Um, no. While PSN may be one of the things that required you to update your firmware, playing games you recently purchased was a much bigger driving factor in mandating you upgrade your firmware. You want to play that game you just payed $60 for, well you are REQUIRED to update your firmware and remove your "Other OS" feature. So saying that the update was a matter of choice to retain access to PSN is pretty far off the mark. I guess it is an option to not update your firmware, but that option carried the penalty of not being able to play the software you purchased for the system. To me, that's not really giving an option.

Charges bogus, but so what?
By MozeeToby on 1/12/2011 5:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
You're missing the fact that the charges don't have to stick in order to hurt the hackers (and thereby discourage this behavior in others). A company as large as Sony can keep you tied up in the courts for years, and all the while you can't work or study and will end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on legal aid. Sony doesn't need to win, they just need to drag these people through the mud for a year or two so that everyone learns what happens when you mess with Sony.

RE: Charges bogus, but so what?
By Rinadien on 1/13/2011 12:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, what's going to happen is Sony is drawing enough attention to themselves to where you will have a LOT more members of the hacking community work together to crack their products.

This is not something new, it's been tried before, and while Sony might win in the short run, the hackers will not stop, and they do tend to hold grudges...

Critical Error
By allometry on 1/12/2011 5:58:13 PM , Rating: 2
Here's a protip for Sony on the next go-around:

Don't draw attention from hackers and they'll leave you alone.

Lawsuit is punishment enough
By nafhan on 1/13/2011 9:30:03 AM , Rating: 2
The sad thing is, a huge lawsuit like this can be enough to ruin someone's life regardless of the outcome. Even if they (legally) didn't do anything wrong, time in court and money spent on legal defense can significantly alter someone's life plans.
Hopefully, these guys win and Sony gets to foot the bill and then some. Especially since the hack was possible thanks to sloppy security on Sony's part...

By carniver on 1/12/2011 8:24:00 PM , Rating: 1
What clowns are running SCEA, seriously? They kept making knee-jerk reactions to hackers. The exploit hasn't been out for that long and they've already decided to assemble this lawsuit that hardly has any basis.

Weak security isn't the end of the world. Weak minds are. A significant reason why PS3 got targeted by hackers is because of your foolish act of removing OtherOS. The original hack from Geohot was merely a proof of concept that hardly did any damage, yet you removed OtherOS despite the outcry and you got the prize of class lawsuits.

You sued people selling PSJailbreak, sure you were successful and every country played along and confiscated such devices. But did you realize that the device was so overpriced that it was out of reach to many people? By swatting it you made it only possible to be obtained FREE, in form of open source code. Not only did you not destroy it, you made it EVERYWHERE.

Everytime you strike, there are implications beyond your control. You might hurt those legitimate customers that were not involved, or you might do yourself more harm than good. Consider what if you lost this case, the very last straw that you're holding onto, people will then have legal ground to do a lot of things right under your nose! Or you can man up and accept that any security can be hacked, but you will still sell software and people will continue to buy them.

Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By Lugaidster on 1/12/2011 6:50:07 PM , Rating: 5
Call me a hater or a freeloader, but I'd rather have a console that I can use for whatever purpouse I want (aside from gaming) than a locked console.

If he had done it for piracy, it would've been done a long time ago.

In any case, I hope Sony loses this quickly, otherwise, this will become common practice.

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By adiposity on 1/12/2011 7:22:05 PM , Rating: 5
so you're telling me that after Sony spend millions if not billions of dollars to make a console, they should just let anyone to run anything on it ? Yes you are a freeloader. an asshole kind of free loader.

How about being able to run Linux, which Sony advertised as a feature of the system? That's not exactly freeloading.

It's Sony's fault if they sell a system for less than it's worth, hoping to regain money on games, even though they actively encouraged people to buy it to run Linux, and even semi-supported that for a while.

RE: Good job Sony
By adiposity on 1/12/2011 7:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
man, I got modded down for quoting a swearer :(

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By rdawise on 1/12/2011 7:45:22 PM , Rating: 5
How is he a freeloader when he paid for the PS3. It's like buying a PC and MS only allowing you to use the Control Panel or not allowing you to dual boot once MS is installed. This is BS.

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By Howard on 1/12/2011 9:32:50 PM , Rating: 2
What does the R&D cost have to do with what I want to do with my own personal property?

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By haplo602 on 1/13/2011 4:21:09 AM , Rating: 3
last time I checked, you still have to pay for the PS3 to get it ... so much for freeloading.

pirating games (where Sony has monetary interest) is one thing, using software on the console where Sony would not get a cent anyway is another thing.

it's the same as xerox machines and any kind of storage medium in my country. you pay a part of the price to copyright agencies just because you could use it to hold/copy copyrighted work. if you do not, nobody will ever refund you ... so you are assumed to be a criminal by default.

same here with Sony ... do you like that they think of you as a criminal even if you paid for their hardware ?

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By fic2 on 1/13/2011 12:26:30 PM , Rating: 3
Uh, it is his own computer. He bought it dumba55. Just because it is sold as a game console doesn't mean it isn't a computer.

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/14/2011 9:09:48 AM , Rating: 1
Just because he bought it doesn't mean its not made by Sony who spent millions of dollars.

Just admit that people are selfish. simple.

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/14/2011 10:19:26 AM , Rating: 1
also, can you walk into the pentagon and say hey, I am a taxpayer and I paid for your stuff, so I am coming in now to take a "visit"

You paid for it right? big fuxking deal ?

RE: Good job Sony
By Schrag4 on 1/14/2011 11:22:17 AM , Rating: 1
I'm sorry, but none of your posts make sense.

Don't forget they sold most of their PS3 below cost. you think you paid enough ? yea yea next I know is ppl like you gonna pull that "its their stupid fault to sell it below cost, not my problem" so many selfish xxxx these days. sad.

So you're agreeing that it's Sony's own stupid fault for selling them at a loss?

What you're arguing is that nobody should be able to put after-market parts in their car, their PC, or anything at all that they buy. You think a shovel should only be used to dig holes, and that anyone who suggests another use should be sued by the makers of shovels.

Should PS3 owners expect support from Sony if they mess with it? No. Should PS3 owners pirate? Of course not. Knife owners shouldn't stab people either. Car owners shouldn't intentionally drive over people. Hammers shouldn't be used to smash your neighbor's car up, but I bet you could find anther use for them that is outside of the recommendations of the manufacturer without getting sued.

You to say that Sony should have a say in whether or not you tinker with their product AFTER YOU BOUGHT IT is insane. Your posts paint the picture of a raving lunatic.

RE: Good job Sony
By geekgod on 1/12/2011 11:28:58 PM , Rating: 1
Jeez, calm down pal. Don't take it so personally. It's not like you work for Sony, or DO you... [raises eyebrow].

RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: Good job Sony
By nikon133 on 1/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: Good job Sony
By nikon133 on 1/13/2011 3:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
You know, I actually agree with you. I completely moved from PC online gaming to PS3 online gaming after being "pwned" by obvious hacks.

Even if motifs of GeoHotz & Co. were clear, some people will use his achievement for shady purposes; such is the human nature. It is like opening someone's house and inviting people to come in and do some enthusiastic home improvements, pretending that no one will enter do steal or do damage... now THAT idealistic even GeoH. cannot be.

Much as I am concerned, I got my PS3 to play games in the safe environment and see BR movie once in a while. I didn't buy it to do EVERYTHING I can think of. If I wanted that sort of tool, I'd buy a PC. Or a Swiss Army Knife.

At the end of the day, GeoH. & Co should know that with great powers, comes great responsibility. ;)

RE: Good job Sony
By fic2 on 1/13/2011 4:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
I bought a car to get to and from work. Some people use cars to rob banks. My brother has several guns for hunting. Some people kill other people with guns. Just because some people misuse something doesn't mean that thing shouldn't be sold/allowed. People will always misuse things.

RE: Good job Sony
By nikon133 on 1/13/2011 7:13:19 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure I'm following you. People who use cars/hunting rifles/... for non-intended/criminal/... activities, in general, get prosecuted. Even if they have purchased that car or rifle and own it and can do with it whatever they want... right?

So what makes people who use consoles for non-intended purposes any different? Especially if, by doing that, they can hurt me in some ways (like in ruining my on-line gaming)..?

By masamasa on 1/12/11, Rating: -1
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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