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Anonymous is none too pleased with Sony Computer Entertainment of America LLC.  (Source: Anonymous)

Anonymous members use tools like the Low Orbit Ion Cannon to spam sites out of commission.  (Source: J. Hua)

George "GeoHot" Hotz is keeping his head up despite his legal troubles.  (Source: GeoHot)
Collective isn't happy with Sony's aggressive legal attempts to suppress PS3 jailbreak

Even as 21-year-old iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz's legal troubles with Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) continue, a collective of online hackers and internet lovers has banded together to try to deliver a more pointed response.

I. Anonymous Strikes Back at Sony

Anonymous, the loosely organized (or some would argue completely unorganized) group of hackers derived from the image message board site 4Chan, has called out  for its lawsuit of GeoHot.  They have posted an online threat "warning" Sony that there would be consequences.  

Writes the group:
Dear Greedy Motherf*ckers (sic) SONY,

Congratulations! You are now receiving the attention of Anonymous. Your recent legal actions against fellow internet citizens, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo have been deemed an unforgivable offense against free speech and internet freedom, primary sources of free lulz (and you know how we feel about lulz.)

You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information about how your products work. You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target those who seek this information. In doing so you have violated the privacy of thousands of innocent people who only sought the free distribution of information. Your suppression of this information is motivated by corporate greed and the desire for complete control over the actions of individuals who purchase and use your products, at least when those actions threaten to undermine the corrupt stranglehold you seek to maintain over copywrong, oops, "copyright".

Your corrupt business practices are indicative of a corporate philosophy that would deny consumers the right to use products they have paid for, and rightfully own, in the manner of their choosing. Perhaps you should alert your customers to the fact that they are apparently only renting your products? In light of this assault on both rights and free expression, Anonymous, the notoriously handsome rulers of the internet, would like to inform you that you have only been "renting" your web domains. Having trodden upon Anonymous' rights, you must now be trodden on.

If you disagree with the disciplinary actions against your private parts domains, then we trust you can also understand our motivations for these actions. You own your domains. You paid for them with your own money. Now Anonymous is attacking your private property because we disagree with your actions. And that seems, dare we say it, "wrong." Sound familiar?

Let Anonymous teach you a few important lessons that your mother forgot:
1. Don't do it to someone else if you don't want it to be done to you.
2. Information is free.
3. We own this. Forever.

As for the "judges" and complicit legal entities who have enabled these cowards: You are no better than SONY itself in our eyes and remain guilty of undermining the well-being of the populace and subverting your judicial mandate.

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.
Expect us.
Based on the group's description and IRC chatter, it appears that members are engaging in impromptu denial of service raids against Sony's online properties.  Many Anonymous members champion distributed denial of service tools like Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) that allow individuals to easily spam websites with requests.  If enough members participate in the attack, even a small group can overwhelm a major site.

That said, some members reportedly use "dirtier" tactics, such as employing attacks from botnets of infected machines.  Anonymous members also are rumored to have occasionally engaged in and/or threatened personal attacks on members of organizations they are targeting.

DDoS attacks using a user's own machine are of questionable legality.  While not explicitly mentioned under U.S. computer crime legislation, they likely fall under the auspice of an attack on a business, something the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984.

Anonymous had previously called on a boycott of SCEA products, though many questioned how much effect the boycott by the relatively small ~10,000 member collective would have.

II.  Why the Fuss?

Sony sued GeoHot back in January 2011 for posting keys that would defeat Sony's copy protection scheme.  GeoHot had been brought onboard the onlocking project by fail0verflow, a group of German hackers, as the jailbreak used a smart phone for part of the process.

The effort to jailbreak the PS3 was born out of Sony's decision to ditch Linux support with the release of the PS3 Slim in August 2009.  It is unclear why Sony made that decision given that the PS3 Slim was more than capable of supporting a Linux install.  Sony has since locked "Fat" PS3s out of new installs of Linux, as well, via a system update.

GeoHot has offered to stop distributing the keys if Sony provides a means to install home brew and third party software on the PlayStation 3.  He has also offered to work as a consultant for Sony or the other major console makers (Microsoft and Nintendo) in safeguarding their next-generation consoles from jailbreaks.

Sony hasn't exactly responded warmly.  Thanks an overly permissive judge, it managed to subpoena Mr. Hotz's Paypal [PDF]; Twitter; YouTube and Google [PDF]; and the IP addresses of visitors [PDF].  

Sony claims that it needs access to all of Mr. Hotz's personal accounts to try to monitor if he profited off the release of the hack, some Mr. Hotz denies having done.

Mr. Hotz's German colleagues seemingly have it even worse.  According to Mr. Hotz, at least one of them had their home trashed by German police executing a search warrant at the behest of Sony.

While the full jailbreak offers a route to legitimate/semi-legitimate uses like homebrew and third party operating systems, it also opens the door to darker pastures like piracy and in-game cheating.  GeoHot has stated that he does not support such actions and that he exclusively executed the jailbreak in support of the homebrew movement.

GeoHot is most famous for perpetually defeating the carrier and application restrictions on Apple's iPhone.

The term "jailbreak" is a term that refers to removing protections against running unauthorized software on an electronic device.  This is not to be confused with "unlocking" which refers to removing carrier restrictions on smartphones (something GeoHot also participates in).

As we pointed out in our previous coverage, while, smartphones recently received official endorsement to be jailbroken, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [PDF] seems to still outlaw jailbreaks on other devices, such as the PS3.  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.


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RE: The more the merrier
By greylica on 4/4/2011 11:45:14 AM , Rating: 1
And you deserve what you're doing to yourself, you are not comprehending that the industry turns your life into their consumption, imposing their limitations and separations. It's better to think twice, because persons like you could turn the world in such a way that tough enterprises will tell you what to do, what's right, what's wrong, what to consume, when to sleep, and finnaly how to live. Your brain will be turned into a massive comsumption machine, and when you finnaly enter into a depressive state, because you oppened your eyes, your life was in that blink, and then will be too late. You didn't used your brain to think, you used your brain as a slave for your pleasure of consumption, and your hope will be to dye soon, because there will be no more chances anymore, you're old, and any good idea will be already patented in a way that you and most of the persosn like you will be the loosers of the universe...


RE: The more the merrier
By Wiggy Mcshades on 4/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: The more the merrier
By supermitsuba on 4/4/2011 2:06:43 PM , Rating: 2
While i agree that if you dont like a product, dont buy it, but if i buy something, I should have a right to do whatever I want to it, unless I am renting it otherwise. I might add, that the idea of jailbreaking is not for pirating, so please do not lump it in as such.

I think this clashes against sony's idea of people who just by these things to play a game vs people who know how to use their ps3 for more than what Sony envisions. Which is right, really? Sony should have just bricked illegal PS3 for altering firmware and left it at that.


RE: The more the merrier
By Wiggy Mcshades on 4/4/2011 8:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
I agree jailbreaking has nothing to do with pirating, but with consoles this is one of the ways to get pirated software running. So it can POSSIBLY lead to pirated software being run on the console, that's what sony's concern is actually about because that's their only source of revenue. On a cellphone, which you're legally allowed to jailbreak, you can already do what ever the jailbreak allowed (atleast 80% of it) if you have a developers license. Wanna to run a tethering app on your iphone without jailbreaking? Just buy the 100 dollar developer license and you can load any application you write onto the phone without apple's approval. This is available to everyone and it's also the reason why it was impossible to say its illegal to jailbreak the iphone, there was no protection from piracy if you can just get the dev license and do the same thing. The ps3's developer license is far more expensive and sony decides who can and can't buy it. I can't ever get a sony developer license, which is what makes this different than the situation surrounding iphone jailbreaking. I'm just arguing that the reaction to sony's own reaction isn't justified just by saying, "well I payed for it". There's just so much more to it than that.


RE: The more the merrier
By VitalyTheUnknown on 4/4/2011 2:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
You want to make exclusively for the gaming console a very bizarre legal case that defines console purchase as a combination of ownership and leasing rights/obligations, that doesn't make any sense. You have the right to hack/improve/destroy your refrigerator's digital display and the same rights applies to gaming console. Sony has the right to block/ban modified software/hardware from accessing their services (warranty, Sony on-line servers etc.). At least that's how it works in Europe.


RE: The more the merrier
By Wiggy Mcshades on 4/4/2011 8:16:16 PM , Rating: 2
You payed the full price of your refrigerator, who ever made it actually profited from selling it to you. Sony payed for part of the hardware cost, and today they do not make money on each console sold. The only way for them to make a profit is sell software and so they're pretty much obligated to try and stop anything that could POSSIBLY lead to pirated software being playable by anyone willing to read a guide on a forum. You have the right to hack your own console, but you don't have the right to distribute security keys that you obtained through your exploits. I know someone who circumvented the security of a public transportation payment system and was able to add 100's of dollars of value to their card. If they had used it, they would of been breaking the law. If he had then gone and told everyone how he circumvented the security and distributed the method of doing so he would of gone to jail. It's not about hacking the console it's about distributing the keys and attempting to develop a method of circumventing the security features of the console for those who don't have the technical knowledge to get the keys themselves. I mention the fact that you didn't pay full for the hardware, because that's why you have no right to demand linux support. If you have no right to demand linux support, then according to the person I was replying to, the ddos attacks would then be unjustified.


RE: The more the merrier
By Cerin218 on 4/5/2011 11:05:40 AM , Rating: 2
That might be true, but it was their choice to sell the console at a loss in order to generate game sales. The Xbox was sold at a loss too, yet you don't see Microsoft attacking their customer base. My Xbox was hacked and used for XBMC after I bought a 360. So my old hardware got a longer life using it for something else. If Sony doesn't tell you what you have the right to do or not do with your purchase, then how can they complain when someone uses their product differently?


RE: The more the merrier
By greylica on 4/4/2011 5:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
That's why I'm using Linux and don't own PS3's, Iphone's, and even if I buy a Mac, I will install Ubuntu. When I buy something, it's mine, not theirs anymore. When I use my Phone I'm renting a line for calls, nothing more, If I brick my hardware, the problem is mine also. If I want to put it into fire to see blowing, it's my own decision, my money.
Intel and AMD sells processors, right ? Most of their processors comes with a heatsink that's able to only extend the life of the processor to the extent of the legal warranty, right ? Shall we conclude ourselves that the use of another far better heatsink and fan violates their warranty ?
We are are avoiding resend them a toasted processor, then, the right conclusion is that we are doing them a favor...
Please, use your own inteligence, the hardware is yours, subsidized or not. PS3's aren't rented, same as Phones. The fact that they do not cover their legal warranties without their software means nothing. Hardware failures are hardware failures, using their software or not. They do not offer any legal warranties over their software for any purpose, you can read it in any eula. So why we can't use our own software without any warranties ? They do not offer it anyway !


RE: The more the merrier
By Beenthere on 4/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: The more the merrier
By EricMartello on 4/4/2011 4:36:12 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Two problems with your beliefs:

1. Hacking and DDoS are cyber crimes and thus Anonymous should and will be prosecuted and punished


Irrelevant.

quote:
2. Enterprise can't force you to do anything unless you purchase their goods and services. If you chose to do so then you are bound by their terms - not your wishes. No one is forcing you to purchase these products.


It's not an issue of being forced to buy a product or not, it's an issue of receiving what you pay for. Misleading people into believing that they own something they paid for when in fact they do not can be construed as fraud - also illegal. Is Sony going to be prosecuted and punished for that?

The notion that a company and do as they please as long as they disclaim it in the "terms of service" is a complete fallacy. If anything, Fair Use legislature needs to be expanded to clearly state that you can do whatever you want with a product you purchase, regardless of whether or not the manufacturer agrees.


RE: The more the merrier
By Beenthere on 4/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: The more the merrier
By invidious on 4/4/2011 8:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You didn't used your brain to think...
LoL I had to stop reading your rant there.

You remind me of me of 7th grade. Conforming to the minority is still being a conformist. You can be as angry as you want, just be sure to wipe off your black nail polish so you don't get it all over my burger, and yes I do want fries with that.


RE: The more the merrier
By nikon133 on 4/4/2011 8:40:51 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand "I own it, I can do whatever I want with it" mantra some people are trying to sell here.

If I own a car, I am still not allowed to modify it to run on rocket engine. Even if I do that in my backyard, I'm not allowed to advertise and sell it on the net, or pretend that it is roadworthy.

If I legally own all the required chemicals, I am not allowed to create explosive. Or to explain other people how to do that.

If I own semi-automatic hunting rifle, I am not allowed to modify it to full automatic (well, in some parts of the world at least ;).

There are rules to everything, and there are rules to ownership as well.

I am with Sony all the way on this one. I got PS3 so I can play games on-line with no cheaters. I want Sony to keep platform as closed as possible. For freewares and other stuff, I have PC.


RE: The more the merrier
By karielash on 4/5/2011 5:10:38 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that barrage if totally useless analogies.

A++++ would read again....

oh...

Your stupid.


RE: The more the merrier
By Hyperion1400 on 4/5/2011 2:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
"If I own a car, I am still not allowed to modify it to run on rocket engine. Even if I do that in my backyard, I'm not allowed to advertise and sell it on the net, or pretend that it is roadworthy."

Yeah, because you would light the cars behind you on fire! However, you could still patent and sell the design.

"If I legally own all the required chemicals, I am not allowed to create explosive. Or to explain other people how to do that."

Destructive Devices FFL: $250

... And yes you can, search Amazon for: "The Anarchists Cookbook"

"If I own semi-automatic hunting rifle, I am not allowed to modify it to full automatic (well, in some parts of the world at least ;)."

Gunsmithing FFL: $500


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