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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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RE: Just brick the pirate consoles
By BZDTemp on 4/11/2011 4:11:36 PM , Rating: 0
I'm not sure there is much if anything on your list that will help Sony sell more consoles. For instance it has had a browser since day 1 and I'm sure many users is not even aware of that.

For me the big issue is that the PS3 is no longer so protected which means there is a risk of people cheating in multiplayer which is certainly not a welcome addition. Game makers will now have to do all sort of stuff to make sure exploits are not possible. In my book Geohot is attention craving asshole.


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.


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