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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: Good
By BZDTemp on 6/20/2011 1:33:42 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
So its not free speech unless its your speech? or atleast something YOU like. Good to know.


That is not what I said. My point is simply the fight for free speech is to about so much more than some fool wanting to be famous.

Of course anyone is entitled to speak their mind however if there is no such thing as privacy and trade secrets then we will have a big mess.

quote:
I agree with some of what you said, what they did has negitive effects, however sony set up the rules of this situation. Perhaps they could both take responsibility for the actions. Sony shouldn't sell us a spoon and be able to say we can't use it to cut things.
In principle I agree only the down side to making the PS3 a totally open platform are rather obvious but ignored by the hacker fans.

1. The Linux thing. Yes it was a feature that is no longer there. However hardly anyone used it and I'm willing to bet most of those crying out about the feature being removed certainly did not. Also I haven't heard anyone complaining the option was not available on the Xbox 360 (or the XBOX for that matter).

2. Consoles are subsidized machines. No wonder the console makers are not happy to see them used for anything but what they allow. We all know this when we buy the things so for the thing to be locked down can be no surprise. Don't like it then don't buy.

3. Going after Sony is gunning for the wrong target. Yes, they took something away we had (but didn't use) and yes, they went after some fools that wanted their 15 minutes of fame. But Sony did not make the rules the the politicians we all elected did.

4. Microsoft is much worse than Sony. We bitch about what Sony took away when in reality Microsoft gave us much less in the first place. The PS3, just as the PS2 before that, is a much more open platform than the XBOX 360 and the XBOX. Sony supports open standards like blue-tooth, DLNA, standard hard drives, PC accessories like my G25 wheel ... with Microsoft every thing I needed for the thing cost an extra tax to Microsoft. Which ones of the machines comes with a web browser? And which of the machines require you pay a monthly subscription?

Sony may not be all we would like them to be but they are much less evil than others so why go after the semi-good guys when Evil Inc. is present.


RE: Good
By wallijonn on 6/20/2011 5:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sony did not make the rules - the politicians we all elected did.


Probably not. As a media conglomerate they probably have lobbyists that bribed their vote. Technically you are correct - the politicians we elected voted laws that favoured the media conglomerates. But they didn't do it because We The People asked them to. Not to worry, lobbying has been going on since Samuel Adam's day - when he railed against them.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen














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