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GeoHot is confident he can defeat Sony's effort in court -- and he has a new haircut.  (Source: The Feed)

Anonymous has created a boycott against Sony over the lawsuit.
Sony tries to choke out would-be jailbreakers of its console

Sony's harassment of the infamous young iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz continues in the wake of his posting root keys to the Sony Playstation 3 via an Android Phone hacking process.  The hack, which gets around the PS3 scheme for verifying "authentic" apps, was authored by GeoHot and his German friends at fail0verflow, who developed the initial portion of the hack.

I. Federal Government Hands Sony Hacker's Accounts Without Pause

In Californian federal court in San Francisco, a federal magistrate, Joseph Spero, gave Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) the right to subpoena the paypal records of GeoHot.  Writes [PDF] the magistrate "documents sufficient to identify the source of funds in California that went into any PayPal account associated with geohot@gmail.com for the period of January 1, 2009, to February 1, 2011."

Ostensibly the subpoena is to determine whether GeoHot received donations for the hack from people in California for the hack as Sony claims.

SCEA wants to sue GeoHot in San Francisco, near its home base.  By contrast GeoHot is trying to force the company to sue him in New Jersey -- his home state.  Donations for the hack could determine which region has jurisdiction.  SCEA is claiming people in northern California sent GeoHot donations, so the case would be under the local San Francisco court's jurisdiction.

GeoHot says, however, that he received no donations for the hack, which only went one day live before Sony aired its lawsuit.

If GeoHot has any secrets they will surely be exposed, given the permissiveness of the federal court system.  They have thus far had Sony access to the Twitter; YouTube and Google [PDF]; and the IP addresses of visitors [PDF] to his website.

An attorney for GeoHot criticized in a court letter [PDF] Magistrate Spero's decision to grant the subpoena, saying they were "overly broad" and commenting, "I think the these subpoenas, the information they seek, is inappropriate."

II. GeoHot Did Seek Donations -- For the LAWSUIT

We covered this story since the release of the leak, and feel its possible SCEA is a bit confused here.  We are unaware of GeoHot requesting/accepting donations when he posted the hack.  He did not include a donate link.  

Only after the lawsuit landed did GeoHot reach out to the community for donations for his legal defense.  Thus any donations after January 12, 2011 should be presumed to be from this effort.

Mr. Hotz has said SCEA is just bitter that their big bad copy protections were undone. 

In his initial post he even offers to help console makers secure their future consoles, writing, "if you want your next console to be secure, get in touch with me. any of you 3."

And on his homepage where he originally posted the hack -- which has since been revamped as a page on the legal defense effort -- he now writes:

What if SCEA tries to settle?

Lets just say, I want the settlement terms to include OtherOS on all PS3s and an apology on the PlayStation blog for ever removing it. It'd be good PR for Sony too, lord knows they could use it. I'm also willing to accept a trade, a legit path to homebrew for knowledge of how to stop new firmwares from being decrypted.

GeoHot clarifies that his hack has nothing to do with cheating in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

The page states that he has 2 lawyers, while Sony has 5.  His legal expenses have totaled $10k USD thus far.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provided him legal support, according to the blog, though it was unclear if they were paying for one of these lawyers or just doing research to support his case.

It's possible GeoHot's legal representation team may be growing in size and approaching Sony's due to the success of the donations campaign.  In response to a successful round of fundraising he blogs, "Thank you so so much for all of your help, things are looking up money wise. Expect to see a few more lawyers on my responses!"

He says that any leftover money will be donated to the EFF.

And he says that if you can't donate, just spread the word about Sony's tactics.  He writes, "Let people know how you feel about what Sony is doing. Let Sony know how you feel about what Sony is doing."

III. Library of Congress -- No Love for the PS3?

Honestly, lawmakers often aren't aware of why people would want to jailbreak consoles and install Linux on them.  In fact they're probably, for the most part, not even aware people do such things.

Thus while smart phones received official endorsement to be jailbroken, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act seems to still outlaw jailbreaks on the iPhone.  Ultimately, these seemingly contradictory stances may offer the legal team of GeoHot grounds to challenge the legality of enforcing some jailbreaking provisions, but not others.

III. Why so Long Before a Hack -- Isn't the PS3 5 Years Old?

To better understand when it took five years for the PS3 to be fully cracked, you must understand that early in the device's life cycle Sony promoted openness and allowed users to install Linux on their consoles.  This made it the favorite console among many developers, hackers, and tech enthusiasts.

Then in Sept. 2009 Sony did an abrupt about face and banned Linux from its latest hardware refresh.

The effort to jailbreak the console was born out of the frustration of the company's users at this decision.

Sony's reputation is now in the dumps and is growing worse as they continue to attack GeoHot and threaten to sue anyone who posts the jailbreaking tools.

Microsoft's next-generation console, the Xbox 360 was hacked far quicker, and the company has since been waging war against the homebrew, modding, and piracy scene, banning users from Xbox Live.  While it's been criticized for that move, Sony has received even worse admonishment of late.  That's because, by contrast, Sony initially tried to appear "open" and now has slammed the door shut on enthusiasts/modders.

Members of Anonymous, the massive loosely organized collective of cheeky 4-Chan hackers, have proposed a boycott on all Sony products in wake of the lawsuit and Sony's tactics.


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RE: Consumer bans never work...
By MrTeal on 3/17/2011 11:34:39 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
...because for every tech-savvy consumer who understands this issue, and realizes it's important enough to take action on, there's 1,000 mouth-breathing unthinking disaffected consumers that aren't even going to pay attention.


Most people just don't care, that doesn't make them unthinking mouth-breathers. The vast majority of people who buy a PS3/360/Wii just want something to play video games on, and aren't about to boycott a company just because they now no longer support one small subset of their audience. You'd hardly expect people to start boycotting vacuum cleaners if iRobot stopped releasing the API for the Roomba to electronics and robotics geeks.

Just because installing linux on a PS3 is important to a few people doesn't mean that the vast majority who don't give a crap are idiots. It just means they have their own hobbies or passions outside of writing homebrew and might just want a console to game on.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Motoman on 3/17/2011 11:42:45 AM , Rating: 5
Wrong point to be upset about. I don't care about running Linux on a PS3 either, and that isn't what people should care about.

People should care that Sony is abusing the legal system like this. That's the problem. Similar to the way people *should* have cared that Intel was wildly abusing it's monopoly position over AMD for so long.

Those are things people should care about. But they don't...precisely because they are disaffected and flat-out don't care about much of anything. For the most part. Intel suffered essentially no consequences of it's criminal misbehavior (really, the penalties it eventually paid are of little consequence to Intel), and I'm sure that Sony will almost certainly get through this with essentially no change to it's status in the marketplace. In both cases, that is a very sad reality - but reality nonetheless.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By darckhart on 3/17/2011 12:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Agree. Although I recall news about the air force buying bunch of ps3's and THEY got to keep OtherOS, but us mindless consumer zombies are apparently too low on the food chain, so ZAP! byebye OtherOS.

Also, I seem to remember Sony Music doing the same thing in court with people ripping cds.

And wasn't sony the one with the fiasco about secretly installing rootkits on computers among people that bought a specific cd. i forgot the exact details.

Anyway, come on people! This is the same sony! how many issues will it take before you learn to vote with your wallet?!


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Veerappan on 3/20/2011 8:23:43 AM , Rating: 2
If I remember correctly the PS3s that were bought by the Air Force were purchased for a cluster which probably wasn't internet connected, and therefore hasn't been updated to the firmware that removed the OtherOS option.

They will have to find a few spares that haven't been updated if they want to be able to keep their cluster at full strength as machines die.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Dr of crap on 3/17/2011 12:34:34 PM , Rating: 1
Then you should have been way upset that that old lady took McD's to court over coffee being hot.

Our court system will take ANY suit.
Common sense is not in play in our court system - that is the problem.

And the fact that now Sony is using it the same way is not the isssue. The issue is that the suit is allowed to go forward.

I couldn't not even care about this problem that this guy did. I don't care that he hacked it.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Motoman on 3/17/2011 12:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then you should have been way upset that that old lady took McD's to court over coffee being hot.


I am.

quote:
And the fact that now Sony is using it the same way is not the isssue. The issue is that the suit is allowed to go forward.


Yes and no. It's a huge problem that our justice system is so inept and/or corrupt that the suit wasn't stopped dead in it's tracks already...but it's also a massive strike against Sony that they're blatantly abusing the legal system in this effort anyway.

The fact that the justice system allows you to sue the lawnmower vendor because you chopped your hands off trying to use one to trim your hedge doesn't mean you're not an incredible douchebag for filing the suit in the first place.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By AEvangel on 3/17/2011 1:56:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Then you should have been way upset that that old lady took McD's to court over coffee being hot.


Ahh...the urban myth of the frivolous law suit...if you actually look it up she didn't get that much money and McD's was serving coffee way hotter then it needed to be, on top of that all the lady initially wanted was her medical bills paid.

quote:
Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated expenses. Her past medical expenses were $10,500; her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500; and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000.[14] Instead, the company offered only $800. When McDonald's refused to raise its offer, Liebeck retained Texas attorney Reed Morgan.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%2...


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Baltar on 3/17/2011 2:42:24 PM , Rating: 3
AEVangel: Actually, according to the wikipedia link you provided in your post, she proceeded to sue McDonalds when they would only compensate 800.

The end result is what I will paste:
[Quote]
They [Jury] awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan's suggestion to penalize McDonald's for one or two days' worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day.[5] The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald's and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.[19] [/Quote]

She got over $800, but it was less than $600,000.. I'd say it isn't much of a myth.. is it?


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By someguy123 on 3/17/2011 3:06:45 PM , Rating: 2
The myth was that she sued just because they spilled some coffee on her lap.

The reality was that it actually caused quite a bit of injury due to how incredibly hot the coffee was above McD's normal standards, and that they declined to pay for the damages it caused, instead trying to shoo her away with 800 dollars.

If they dropped something that sounded a little more dangerous than coffee, yet at the same temperature, people wouldn't have batted an eye. People just misconstrued the suit as frivolous because of the headlines.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/17/2011 3:33:54 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The reality was that it actually caused quite a bit of injury due to how incredibly hot the coffee was above McD's normal standards, and that they declined to pay for the damages it caused, instead trying to shoo her away with 800 dollars.

If they dropped something that sounded a little more dangerous than coffee, yet at the same temperature, people wouldn't have batted an eye. People just misconstrued the suit as frivolous because of the headlines.


And neither of you have mentioned the reason *why* McDonalds was heating their coffee so extremely hot.

It was due to the fact that they were cost cutting and using poor quality grounds and too little of them, so were heating the coffee to much higher temperatures than competitors in order to produce the correct aroma out of the weak brew, tricking the customer into thinking they were getting a decent cup of joe.

Regardless of how you feel about the lawsuit, McDonalds was doing something unusual and the truth was pretty embarassing when it came out.

Hence all McDonalds efforts to advertise its new "premium" coffee and repair its image.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By adiposity on 3/17/2011 10:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
+1


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Hiawa23 on 3/17/2011 4:49:04 PM , Rating: 1
MRTEAL, I agree, I bought my PS3 just to play games on it legally, & watch Bluray, I think Sony should sue or block those who are trying to undermine their security. I don't even care or know what linux is.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Motoman on 3/17/2011 6:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
...once again, you and anyone who's rating you up, is missing the point.

THE POINT IS NOT INSTALLING LINUX ON THE PS3.

The point is that Sony is abusively working the legal system to violate basic rights of privacy and to stretch the bounds of legality all around...and the court system is helping them do it.

I don't care what the kid did, or did not do. That is absolutely, positively, irrelevant to the point being made. You need to think about that a bit more.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By tastyratz on 3/17/2011 7:26:21 PM , Rating: 2
I agree,

While people do not seem to care because it does not directly impact their use, it does set precedence for something that very well one day just may.

It has nothing to do with linux and everything to do with corporate abuse, the public is just too passive.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-Benjamin Franklin


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Hiawa23 on 3/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Hiawa23 on 3/17/2011 7:56:16 PM , Rating: 1
<b>THE POINT IS NOT INSTALLING LINUX ON THE PS3.

The point is that Sony is abusively working the legal system to violate basic rights of privacy and to stretch the bounds of legality all around...and the court system is helping them do it.


I get the point, the point for me is Sony will do what I expect any company to do with deep pockets. I really don't need to think about this any longer as my view won't change. We see stuff like this happening all over. It's tough to fight these big corporations, & they usually exploit any loopholes their legal teams can find. That's not going to change. Sony, Apple, Microsoft, any oil company, or big business does this. This is the system.


RE: Consumer bans never work...
By Motoman on 3/17/2011 8:51:26 PM , Rating: 4
And that, gentle readers, is the ultimate problem.

He doesn't care. He's positive it's not going to change. He's not going to think about it any longer because his view isn't going to change.

THAT, ladies and germs, is exactly why things are the way they are. And it is also why our crystal-ball-massaging friend above is probably right...the system probably isn't going to change. The thing is, though, that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Things aren't going to change, because people have attitudes like this guy. Of course nothing's going to change if people predominantly are so disaffected.

Be affected. Care. Expect better from your justice system, the companies you deal with, and society in general. And when you don't get better...do something about it.

...or be like that guy.


"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs














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