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Telling users how to remove restraints on consoles they legally own may cost a German man his freedom. But faced with a damning Sony lawsuit, he says the company should "just kill" him as he won't give up his quest to free users.  (Source: Icon Productions/Paramount Pictures)

Those who oppose Sony's tactics are encouraged to support a boycott and/or to donate to Mr. Egorenkov. Anonymous and other groups have also called for ongoing attacks on Sony's online properties in retaliation.  (Source: Google Images)
Sony harassment of the modding/hacking community continues even as it faces a record number of intrusions

People often ask what exactly Sony Corp. (6758) did to convince hackers groups like LulzSec and Anonymous to hack the company 19 times so far [1][2][3][4][5][6][7].  An answer may lie in cases like that of Alexander Egorenkov.

Mr. Egorenkov, a young German and associate of the team of German hardware hackers fail0verflow helped people jailbreak the PlayStation 3 by authoring the "Hypervisor Bible" [torrent] a guide to Sony's PS3 software protection layer.  Mr. Egorenkov, who goes by "graf_chokolo" online, says his goal was simply to allow people to make full use of the hardware they legally bought.

Sony initially encouraged Linux (OtherOS) installs on PS3s, but with the launch of the PS3 Slim killed the support and issued patches that blocked existing machines from utilizing the newly disallowed Linux.

When famed U.S. iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz and the folks at fail0verflow hacked the PS3 and reallowed Linux via jailbreak, an outraged Sony lashed out.  Harassing Mr. Hotz with court-aided intrusions into his private online accounts, Sony similarly worked to punish Mr. Egorenkov for trying to free users from Sony's restraints.

They convinced German authorities to raid Mr. Egorenkov's home and seize his personal computers and electronics.  They also filed suit against him in Hamburg District Court (Docket no. 310 O 24/11) for 1M € (appr. $1.43M USD) in damages.  The court ordered him to take down any copies of the "Hypervisor Bible".  

Mr. Egorenkov refused to comply.  He uploaded a backup copy of "coolstuff.rar", which Sony's lawyer Peter Ruess says includes "copies, decrypted copies and reverse-engineered information of files belonging to the confidential core firmware used in the PlayStation3 which is distributed by our client."  

Backups were given to friends to prevent Sony's efforts to permanently remove the guide.

Sony motioned for Mr. Egorenkov to be found in violation of court order, which a Hamburg judge affirmed.  A defiant Mr. Egorenkov writes that Sony would have to kill him to keep him silent.  He writes:
The SONY's lawyer asked me why I'm doing what I'm doing, because of my hatred for SONY? He cannot understand why I'm doing it, because he is paid for what he does. I'm not. I don't hold a grudge against SONY even now Hatred clouds your mind, keeps you from more important things. I have a better use for my mind and knowledge.

So, SONY you failed again, you took my equipment but my mind is still free and you canot control it. You failed again. They are just tools, I can get new ones and will continue my HV reversing and bringing back PS3 Linux which you took from us. If you want me to stop then you should just kill me because I cannot live without programming, HV and Linux kernel hacking You know who am I and where I live, so come and get me !!!
(Capitalization edited for readability.)

Well, unlike GeoHot who was fortunate enough to earn a reportedly favorable settlement with Sony, Mr. Egorenkov was not so fortunate.  He's reportedly bankrupt and has been ordered to go to prison in Germany if he can't find a way to pay up for his court costs and damages to Sony.

He writes on his blog:
Hi guys, no money left anymore. Going to jail soon probably because I cannot pay court costs.

But I'm ready to stand up for everything I said and go to jail for that too. It’s not important to win, more important is to show them that we are ready to fight, that they cannot scare me off easily. Yeah, I'm ready to go to jail for my believes and my principles.

Most of people probably think that all computer and kernel hackers are weak kids, hiding in a cellar, eating pizza whole day, writing software and looking for attention Maybe, but that’s NOT me. And I will get out eventually and continue my work. My work means very much to me.
(Capitalization edited for readability.)

People interested in supporting Mr. Egorenkov's efforts to retain his freedom are encouraged to donate here.

It's sad the inconvenience to gamers that the recent attacks on Sony have caused.  But one has to wonder if Sony isn't partially to blame for it, given its belligerent stance towards its most tech-savvy users.

This behavior stands in sharp contrast with rivals Nintendo (TYO:7974) who has long cast a blind eye on jailbreaking and pirated software and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who at worst banned modders from using its online service, but more recently has taken a gentler stance working with top Windows Phone 7 jailbreakers to offer a (legal) jailbreak at "a small fee".


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RE: It's OK to stick up for what you believe in...
By relztes on 6/19/2011 12:25:03 AM , Rating: 4
Yes, but since when is it a crime to hack my own computer? Now putting a rootkit on someone else's computer...


RE: It's OK to stick up for what you believe in...
By bug77 on 6/19/2011 6:52:37 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yes, but since when is it a crime to hack my own computer?


I think that's a real issue.
People always say "I should be able to back up my own music" or "I can mod my computer however I want". But in the case of music, it's not really yours. You just buy the right to listen a MP3, AAC or whatever file.
I don't have a PS3 (or any other Sony product), but it's possible for the EULA to state that the console is actually the property of Sony. And there's a a precedent for that: cable providers own a part of your TV through selective output control.
All things considered, the media should do a better job discerning between stuff you buy (e.g. food) and stuff you are only allowed to rent (e.g. music and motion pictures).


By bug77 on 6/19/2011 11:29:39 AM , Rating: 2
PS And I didn't mean that the above is ok. It's just the status quo. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start going the right way.


By adiposity on 6/19/2011 11:37:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't have a PS3 (or any other Sony product), but it's possible for the EULA to state that the console is actually the property of Sony.


If you buy a product in a box and don't sign anything, they can put whatever EULA they want, anywhere, and it's still yours. The idea that if it asks you a question when you turn it on to confirm that Sony owns the PS3, makes the object you just paid for, theirs, is utter bullshit.

Granted, you have the option to return something if it comes with such a EULA, but this does not cancel the idea that the PS3 is clearly NOT Sony's. They do not repair it for free. They do not charge a rental fee. You pay full price and (except for warranty), are completely responsible for paying for any upgrades, repairs, etc.

Sony can state all they want that you don't own the device you just paid full retail price for, but they don't have the right to come take it out of your possession.

They do have the right to kick you off PSN--that's a service. They do have a right to sue you if they think you are revealing trade secrets--the law allows it. And they do have the right to rent you a PS3--but they do not do that, they sell the hardware (currently at a profit).


By bug77 on 6/19/2011 12:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sony can state all they want that you don't own the device you just paid full retail price for, but they don't have the right to come take it out of your possession.


No, but if you're ok with them removing Linux support, maybe you're also ok with then removing your rights to access PSN and maybe play games?
The console means both hardware and software. As long as the EULA says you don't own the software, all you have is a box of stuff.


By Motoman on 6/19/2011 11:54:19 AM , Rating: 3
You don't "rent" music or movies when you buy a CD/DVD/BD.

The law always guaranteed the consumer the right to make a backup copy of such stuff - specifically because you bought the right to enjoy the content, not the media, and the media can fail/get lost/whatever.

But then the RIAA/MPAA et al bought another law that made it illegal to circumvent DRM.

Therefore, it is against the law to exercise the right given to you by the other law.

Proof positive of the irreparable corruption in our legal/justice/government system. And all the more reason why to call for the outlawing of lobbying. When corporations and/or special interest groups can purchase laws that make other laws illegal, the time has far since passed to make major corrections in the system.


By snakeInTheGrass on 6/19/2011 11:18:10 AM , Rating: 2
Since when? Well, since the big corporations got DMCA passed. If you have to circumvent a copy protection scheme to use your own hardware the way you want, you're automatically a criminal. Just keep moving the line, pretty soon we can all be criminals. Oh, you ripped a DVD you bought so you could stream it in your own home? That's a federal crime, you know!

It's such a crock. More and more meaningless laws on behalf of giant corporations - and those corporations of course buy themselves protection from being held accountable for their own significantly more disturbing actions. (Rootkits? How about private security forces killing civilians?) Geez, there's 1 person being held criminally liable in the mortgage meltdown. Really? But copy your own DVD and you're a crook? F***.


RE: It's OK to stick up for what you believe in...
By mforce on 6/19/2011 4:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Couldn't have said it better myself, I completely agree with this.
Then again, most people these days are pretty ignorant , some even stupid and don't even realise this. The just keep on living their lives without even noticing what's going on.


By Beenthere on 6/19/2011 4:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
If you're dumb enough to pirate, hack or illegally distribute, then you're dumb enough to go to prison. They build prisons for people in denial who can't live within the laws of society. Denial does not change law so you had better adjust your POV or pay the price. Society is not going allow criminals to go unpunished.


By Jalek on 6/19/2011 4:31:17 PM , Rating: 2

This guy's going to the modern equivalent of debtor's prison.


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