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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 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. - 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.

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