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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 Wiggy Mcshades on 4/4/2011 1:17:31 PM , Rating: 0
You're asking for freedom where you have no right to ask it. What ever they want to do with a ps3 that is somehow impossible unless its running Linux could just be done on different hardware. If just the fact that you can't do what you want with it bothers you (it would bother me) then don't buy the product in the first place. Consoles are cheap because the companies selling them subsidize the hardware cost, you can't ask them to give you free reign on their product if you don't even pay the full price of it. You didn't pay the R&D costs of the hardware, you didn't carry the cost of years of selling the ps3's at a 300 dollar lost, and you certainly don't have to explain to investors why they lost money investing in Sony. If I invest in Sony and they lose money to people playing pirated games, (sony gets money per game sold and this "jailbreak" would of allowed pirated games to be played) then aren't those trying to "jailbreak" the ps3 just stealing from me? So it's fine if you get what you want even if it screws someone else (that's called greed), but when you don't get what you want it's unfair and due to greed. If you want control over what you do with the hardware you purchased then look into building a computer, it's more functional anyway.

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 !

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