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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 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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