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George "GeoHot" Hotz has settled with Sony to undisclosed terms after a contentious court battle. He promises his supporters that they'll appreciate the outcome, though he cannot disclose terms.  (Source: GeoHot)

GeoHot distributed root keys, which opened the PS3 Slim and original to running Linux and homebrews. The keys also allowed pirated software to be run, though GeoHot said that had not been his motivation.  (Source: SCEA)
No official word from hacker on what the settlement entailed

On Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC announced [press release] via its U.S. Playstation blog that it had entered into a settlement with famed 21-year-old iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz.

I. The Settlement

According to Riley Russell, General Counsel for SCEA:

Sony is glad to put this litigation behind us. Our motivation for bringing this litigation was to protect our intellectual property and our consumers. We believe this settlement and the permanent injunction achieve this goal.

We want our consumers to be able to enjoy our devices and products in a safe and fun environment and we want to protect the hard work of the talented engineers, artists, musicians and game designers who make PlayStation games and support the PlayStation Network. We appreciate Mr. Hotz’s willingness to address the legal issues involved in this case and work with us to quickly bring this matter to an early resolution.
The release also carried a comment from GeoHot, who writes:
It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier. I'm happy to have the litigation behind me.
Sony clarifies that Mr. Hotz was not behind the recent attacks on Sony webpages that were conducted by the loosely organized hacker collective Anonymous.  Mr. Hotz had previously backed a boycott on Sony products backed by Anonymous and other digital freedom proponents.

II. Why Did He Settle?  Some Possibilities...

In response to his comments on his blog, Mr. Hotz writes, "The terms of the settlement agreement are 'confidential' and the matter requires that they be 'confidential'."

But he adds, "I think people will be happy...It definitely was not a waste, I assure you."

He reminds commenters multiple times that he is bound by a permanent legal injuction.

It seems likely, based on these remarks, that Mr. Hotz must have obtained something out of this settlement.  It is possible that Sony has agreed in principle to open up the PS3 to homebrews, Mr. Hotz's ostensible chief objective in the case. 

Sony disallowed Linux on the PS3 and homebrews with the release of the PlayStation 3 Slim edition in August 2009.  It also locked out older consoles from carrying out Linux installs via a system update.

The case drew much controversy, particularly due to Sony's seeming invasion of Mr. Hotz's privacy.  During the case an overly permissive judge granted SCEA lawyers subpoenas of Mr. Hotz's Paypal [PDF]; Twitter; YouTube and Google acccounts [PDF]; and the IP addresses of visitors to his personal webpage [PDF].
 
Thanks to donations, Mr. Hotz had hired several lawyers and mounted a formidable legal defense to challenge Sony's corporate litigation team.

Mr. Hotz also offered his services for hire to Sony, Nintendo Co., Ltd (NTDOY), and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to help safeguard their next generation consoles from being jailbroken.  Thus it is possible that Mr. Hotz also received some sort of financial compensation for cooperating with Sony.

It is not uncommon for lawsuit settlements to prohibit the parties involved from discussing.  It may be some time before the suit's effects become clear.

For now, the PS3 jailbreak (root keys) is very much in the wild, despite GeoHot ceasing his direct distribution of it.  The process requires a smartphone and a bit of time.

Mr. Hotz recently clarified that he was visiting South America on vacation for spring break.


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Just brick the pirate consoles
By quiksilvr on 4/11/2011 4:02:59 PM , Rating: 5
Seriously. Let people do what they want on their consoles so long as it isn't piracy. It's the cheapest and easiest way to come up with new innovations for the operating system.

Look at Apple. If it wasn't for the jailbroken OS, the innovations people have been waiting for (multitasking, copy and paste) would have taken even longer.

Imagine the possibilities, Sony!
1) Chromium browser
2) Flash 10.1
3) Video chat via Gmail, Skype, or Oovoo
4) More webcam drivers
5) Playstation Move OS

Learn from your consumers!




RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By BZDTemp on 4/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By CZroe on 4/11/2011 4:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Game makers will now have to do all sort of stuff to make sure exploits are not possible."

So they might actually have to do the same kind of work a PC multiplayer game requires? Oh no! The poor babies.

FWIW, the most recent rumor is that Sony is bringing Chrome to the PS3. When I first heard about their GoogleTV deal, I kinda wondered if the whole thing was coming to PS3, so I'm putting a lot of credence to this.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By BZDTemp on 4/11/2011 6:04:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well guess how is paying for the extra work the "poor babies" will have to make. I'd rather my money goes to pay for great gaming ideas rather than anti-cheat stuff needed but it seems you see it differently.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By hughlle on 4/12/2011 3:10:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yet console games have always been more expensive by far


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By CZroe on 4/12/2011 5:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
FAIL

What planet do you live on where PC games cost more than console titles? Modern Warfare 2 was pretty much the first mainstream PC title that dared start at $60 MSRP (same as console) while they debuted at $50 and less all along before then and always QUICKLY drop. Most are $20 off on launch day. My brother recently got Crysis 2 directly from EA for $30 (preordered ages ago) and it's still $60 and will remain $60 on consoles for a LONG time.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By TMV192 on 4/11/2011 4:38:20 PM , Rating: 5
I don't think you understand. The PS3 was capable of most of those things under the Linux installation capabilities it had when it launched. The reason they cut all that stuff out is that the PS3 still sells at a loss for Sony so, if you're not buying games, you're not making them money.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By quiksilvr on 4/11/2011 5:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
Sony App Store? Have a few free pieces of software showing off the system and integrate Android applications?


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By nikon133 on 4/13/2011 1:00:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I think that is what they will do. Allow homebrew software, but control it through pre-screening and centralized distribution (PSN Store or whatever they call it).

You can already purchase PS3 and PSP "Minis" from Playstation Store - a few $ games, some of them actually ported from iOS/Android games... so expanding that idea with apps is sort of logical. But I don't think that will be done thanks to Holtz guy - like I said, it seems like logical continuation to what is already done, and that kid looks like showoff (and then some).


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By UnWeave on 4/11/2011 6:52:05 PM , Rating: 3
I believe that the consoles have in fact been selling at a profit for some time now - e.g. http://www.techradar.com/news/gaming/sony-s-playst... - in fact, from around the same time they removed the 'Install Other OS' feature.

And did you ever try using Linux on the PS3? I am not at all condoning them removing that capability, but I tried both Ubuntu and Yellow Dog and they were painfully slow. Using the PS3's browser was a far more pleasant experience than using one under Linux. I can't imagine that a browser in a Linux distro it would be capable of running a flash-based site, in a useable state, on the PS3.

On the other than, this was some time ago. Perhaps YDL and Ubuntu for PowerPC got better before Sony pulled the plug...


By tastyratz on 4/11/2011 8:04:19 PM , Rating: 2
How long ago did you try it? Developing linux to run on a new platform is not exactly an overnight process it did suck when it first came out. I would not expect it to run well up front but after awhile it's certainly improved. Also, the versatility lends to other functions. Look at the air force and its collection of ps3's as a supercomputer. The cell is incredible at processing and crunching specific things, much more so than a comparable computer for very low cost.

A person may or may not ever use linux, but I do not believe sony should have that right on hardware you OWN not lease. It's principle on far reaching TOS agreements.

The point is not that its no big loss because you think it was not good, the point is that the unit was sold with a specific versatility and removed. Sony tried to curb piracy then lied about it. It did not work and now they just don't want to flop back on their action. Poor PR overall


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By omnicronx on 4/11/2011 9:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad Sony has been making a profit off the PS3 for quite some time.

If your little theory was true, then Sony should have pulled the OtherOS feature long before last year.

(We are talking 1-1/2 to 2 years post turning a profit.)

This was all about the prospect of piracy, not about losing money from the console itself and deserve all the trouble they are receiving.

Funny thing is if Sony never shut down the otherOS feature, we probably would not have these keys in the first place.

I have zero sympathy for Sony, they completely brought this upon themselves.


By Aloonatic on 4/12/2011 4:06:17 AM , Rating: 3
What I don't get (and I'm willing to admit that I am not the most informed in this area) is how Sony got away with the removal of the otherOS feature, when I was under the impression (and I might have just read a bunk article or two about it back when the PS3 first came out, or just before it did) that they used the otherOS feature to get around import restrictions/tariffs/taxes as the device was classed as a computer, not pure games console. I might be grossly misinformed here though.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By wvh on 4/11/2011 7:33:18 PM , Rating: 2
See – here is the issue with DRM. Either the company has full control, or the user. There is no way I can think of that enables the user to (rightfully) do whatever it is they want to do with their property, while locking down content that is not fully owned by them.

I'm a long time Linux and open-source user and vehemently opposed to DRM, but from a neutral and scientific point of view, I just don't think it's possible to allow full access over hard- and software and still maintain full control over the platform. If users can install and modify whatever they want, pirates can too, and obviously this isn't something Sony (of all evil content companies...) wants to happen.

This counts for all DRM. Take ebooks: either the publisher/distributor owns the copy, or you do. If you do, it can be copied freely. If the publisher/distributor does, you don't really own the book and your access rights can be revoked or lost. From a technological perspective, I don't think there is a middle way here – either you fully own it and the rights to view/copy it, or you don't.

It's as scary to content producing companies to give up full control as it is to consumers to lose true ownership. This battle isn't over by long.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By Lerianis on 4/11/2011 11:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed on the DRM point. There is no way for the user to have control of his machine AND to protect his investment in said machine and it's software when DRM is involved.

It's time for the governments of the world to start being harsh with these companies, telling them "Either you offer a way to play backup games OR have a way that people can replace their discs at no cost OR move to a format (SSD, Flash drives) where people don't have to worry about damage!"


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By Aloonatic on 4/12/2011 3:54:52 AM , Rating: 2
Out of interest, how many people have suffered from a damaged BluRay Disk not working, which would need to be backed-up? I have had a PS3 from launch, and while I don't use it heavily I suppose, I do use it quite a bit and tend to swap games about quite a lot too, rather than just leaving a disk in until a game is completed and then put back on the shelf. I've bought plenty of 2nd hand games too, and I have seen the odd scratch on a disk, but never had any problems with getting a disk to read properly.

From what I have heard, the main area where problems occur with disk reading comes from the laser, so connected to the use of removable disks, but it's worth baring in mind that mass-produced BluRay lasers were pretty new, so might have been a little more flakey than they should be by now, and a copied/backed-up disk would not make any difference either. Also, removable SSDs and Flash Drives for games will suffer from the same problems that cartridges used to back in the pre PS1/xBox days, where wear on the contacts used to cause a fair few problems, from time to time, until you blew on them and a few times, then hey-presto.

All this will be a problem of the past soon though, as I think it's almost inevitable that consumers/gamers will be forced to download content from the various console stores, on-line. Then you can delete it from your local machine and re-download it again later to play again if you want, as the store remembers what you've paid for using your account. With larger hard drives being pretty cheap now, there's no reason why the PS4 and next xBox wont have pretty large hard drives that people can download and install quite a few games onto, which would also help game load times too.

We just need to have a decent spread of internet service now, which is a problem, as the amount of traffic increases. I dread to think how long it might take to download Gran Turismo 6 using the common/average internet connection.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By Taft12 on 4/12/2011 9:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Out of interest, how many people have suffered from a damaged BluRay Disk not working, which would need to be backed-up?


Every PS3 owner who lives in a house with children.


By Aloonatic on 4/12/2011 11:13:22 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it's just the way that I was raised, but when I was a kid and I broke or damaged something, then tough. It teaches kids to be careful and respect things. If they are too young to be able to treat handle something that is delicate, then they are too young and you shouldn't have given it to them in the first place, or left them alone with it, so then it's your problem. If the PS3 was aimed at little children, hen there might be an argument, but I don;t think that that is the case.

If my parents left something within my grasp that they wanted and I wasn't supposed to have, then that was their loss.

Personally, I don't see ill-disciplined/clumsy children, or lazy parenting as being Sony's problem, and a reasonable enough excuse to "back-up" games, and I realise that you (Taft12) haven't said that either, but in my experience, PS3 disks are pretty tough an when treated remotely well they will last.

It's all about what's reasonable, and I think that PS3 disks are reasonably resilient and good enough to withstand what they should, and as such the whole "backup" argument is just a smokescreen for what we really know that people mean, and that's making copies of games for their friends etc.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By Xaussie on 4/12/2011 7:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
Not true, I have three boys 6-9 and two PS3s with numerous games. They've destroyed many things in their time but not one single blu-ray disc, and we've had a PS3 in the house since release day. Those discs are much tougher than DVDs or CDs.


RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By KOOLTIME on 4/13/2011 5:53:07 PM , Rating: 1
Nobody backs up a 10 to 60 dollar cd/dvd/blu-ray for legitimate back up purposes.

Ive been working around the IT industry for 30+ years, with 10's of thousands of users during that time not once I came across, or even hear another person claim they back up their cd/dvd for personal data protection use. None backed up their cd's to save a copy that was retained for their explicit personal use data back up Use. "Always" they are "given to some else/friend/relative/resale".

A fact those so called back up copies get shared with others which is why corps bitch about it as each share = 1 lost cd sale.


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