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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Good job Sony
By chick0n on 1/12/2011 5:46:58 PM , Rating: -1
GeoHotz has been talking shit for quite some time, just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.

Not to mention, it still took him this long to "omg I found the weakness"

yea yeah his excuse was "bring Linux support back" "oh I don't promote piracy"

my ass, his work is all about piracy and the only winner right now is a bunch of free loaders.

rate me down all u want, I know there are a lot of haters here.

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)..?

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