back to article Suit settled, PS3 hacker donates $10,000 to EFF

The hacker accused of violating US copyright law when he hacked the PlayStation 3 game console has donated $10,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation after Sony dropped the controversial lawsuit. George Hotz, aka GeoHot, announced the donation on Saturday, five days after he and Sony settled their legal tiff. Sony accused …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Wallyb132


    So many questions...

    One has to wonder why sony backed down so quickly from a fight they were fighting so fiercely?

    Did something happen to make sony change their mind?

    were they losing revenue because of the bad press?

    did they realize that suing ones customers is a bad way of securing future sales?

    I mean they serious they spent tens of thousands of dollars at the minimum to prosecute this this case, only to settle it for a $10k donation to the EFF, the organization that was helping push the defense...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      law student here

      It seems the focus of lawyers is on chasing suits they can profit from. A 21-year old student isn't going to have much money. A company, on the other hand, always has insurance...

    2. Raumkraut

      Loser takes a fall

      A large company only ever backs down when they know they're going to lose.

      If they lose a case, that creates a precedent which means, at the very least, they'll have a harder time prosecuting the next victim they set their sights on. At worst, it could result in a new DMCA exemption, which would make it impossible for them to similarly threaten their customers in future.

      Settle the case out of court, and no precedent gets set, so Sony are free to persecute other people in the future.

    3. yossarianuk

      re : Wallyb132

      Perhaps it is connected with the fact that they have had to close Sony stores yesterday

      1. Anonymous Coward


        They didn't close for the day, they took the picture after the store had closed for the day before the centre shut...


    4. Hooch181

      Probably everything you said...

      but I also suspect that Sony didn't want to take the chance of actually losing and setting a precedent in the courts!

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        Sony wouldn't have lost. Geohot's actions were clearly violations of the DMCA. On the other hand it would be enormously expensive to take to trial, attract more bad publicity while in progress and Geohot wouldn't have been able to pay any fine any way. By settling both sides walk away from this thing right now. Biggest risk for Geohot is he runs his mouth off counter ito the settlement and finds himself at risk of summary judgement.

        1. Hooch181

          Never claimed...

          they would have lost friend...

          But if they did, they would have set a precedent. Under those circumstances I can understand why they didn't take the chance!

        2. PT


          "Geohot's actions were clearly violations of the DMCA."

          Perhaps so. But no DMCA violation has ever made its way through the system to the court of ultimate appeal, at which point it would risk being found unconstitutional and struck down. Cynical observers might view that as a more likely reason why Sony settled.

    5. DrXym Silver badge

      Backed down?

      It was a civil case. They got what they wanted and sent out a message that they'll sue people for publishing circumventions to their copy protection mechanisms.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From what i have seen...

      In the case where there being sued by lots of irate owners, they are claiming that they are not in any way responsible for the software, not our fault guv, cant sue us.

      However, in GeoHot's case, they were claiming absolute right to sue over DMCA violations.

      It would have taken quite a bit to reconcile those two positions and not be in contempt in one court or the other, so they bullied him into accepting a settlement. Probably because they could still easilly and cheaply shut him up, whereas if they lost the other one, there potentially liable for millions.

    7. Danny 14


      perhaps the fact that sony released information themselves whilst the case was ongoing pretty much sank their own argument. They would have had no choice but to settle else they would lose AND have set precident against themselves and other consoles for the future.

      As things stand PS3 can probably be hacked by someone else using the same defence but future PS4 would have no precident set in court etc (unless sony screw up and release methods again).

    8. Vic

      Re: hmmm...

      > One has to wonder why sony backed down so quickly from a fight they were fighting so fiercely?

      Given the discrepancies between their pleadings to the court in this case, and their pleadings in the class-action suit, there is a strong chance that they would have been caught in a lie to the court. That's not a good way to go about winning.

      The case they had presented - essentially claiming Hotz was subject to a legal agreement just because they found a username somewhat like him in their database - was always pretty weak. The judge gave them all sorts of latitude in discovery because they said it was imnportant; had the case come to trial and their discovery proved nothing, they would have been in for a serious judicial backlash. Judges don't like plaintiffs bending the truth.

      It looks like Sony lawyers finally realised they were going to lose.

      > only to settle it for a $10k donation to the EFF

      Sony didn't settle for a $10K donation. They settled for a promise from Hotz not to tell the world the next time they did something hopeless on the security front.

      The donation was Hotz's idea, to show that he wouldn't be benefiting from the legal fund donations should his legal costs not be that high in the end.


    9. The BigYin

      Easy answer

      That kind of PR is bad and it was killing them, but they needed to control Hotz to protect their various licensing agreements.

      Probably the thought that they could get themselves out of the spotlight for a while.

      Almost certainly (at least the the geek and nerd market segment).

      The donation did not form part of the settlement. Think. Why would a corporation like Sony (lover of rootkits) want to help the EFF? They wouldn't. It was Mr. Hotz who gave the money away as this is what he had promised.

      I think Hotz had it pretty much right - free speech has been cut in the USA to appease corporate interests. And one more thing:


    10. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Probably most of the above...

      Bad press, customers leaving... I won't even watch any movie or play a game anyway related to Sony now.

      By the way, I think you got it wrong about the 10k donation to the EFF. Geohot voluntarily did that (kudos to him).

    11. Highlander

      What do you mean backed down?

      This was the best result they could have hoped for. Hotz is by his own agreement enjoined from hacking Sony products - forever. Sony gave up nothing, and gained the only thing they could hopt to have got from Hotz since money was never going to be the issue, you can't get blood from a stone. Even Hotz lawyer was unequivocal about their defeat.

      Sony wasn't the one that backed down my friend, that would be ego-manchild Hotz who has wasted no time in making yet more public noise.

    12. CaptainHook

      Not even $10,000

      I doubt the $10,000 would have been part of the deal with Sony, that would have been the money left over from donations which Geohotz always said would be donated to the EFF if not used.

      So Sony can't even claim they cost him $10,000, and if he has that much to spare to donate it suggests they didn't even get enough money awarded to hit his own pocket, just that of the donation fund.

    13. KB 1

      Neither party "lost" this case...

      I'm pretty sure the bad PR and attentions of hacker collectives like Anonymous was part of the reason for Sony's decision to settle this case now, but they hardly "lost" the case.

      What was the point in suing GeoHot? It was never going to be to get damages - money - out of him, was it? Hotz might have had $10K to dontate at the end of it, but that's a drop in the ocean for Sony and would easily have been swallowed up (and then some) by lawyers' fees if this had gone to trial. If Sony had pursued this all the way, they might have won some hollow moral victory, but they'd have been left with a massive legal bill and costs they had no chance of recovering from the defendant.

      No, Sony got what they really wanted - for Hotz will stop meddling in the PS3 and other Sony products (with an injunction and the threat of further court action if he doesn't) and a clear message has been sent to other potential hackers that they risk Sony's wrath if they try to follow in his footsteps.

      Sony wins all that and limits any further PR damage for no further costs. Hotz only really wins the removal of the threat of the ongoing law suit which could - could - have bankrupted him.

      Neither side really won or lost overall. If anything, the biggest losers are the lawyers who don't get to charge a big fat fee. And that, surely, is a win (of sorts) for everyone?

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        How does that work?

        How can you win a "hollow moral victory" if you don't have any morals to start with?

  2. zen1

    This is what I don't get...

    It's OK for Sony give us the root kit v1, yet they use the courts to bully purchasers and legal owners of their goods? How many countless lost billions, if not trillions of dollars could be traced back to the Sony corporation, and the consulting firm they used to deploy root kit technology, yet Sony legal gets its collective panties in a wad because someone thinks of an innovative way to utilize technology for tasks other than its originally designed intent.

    It's days like this I with the Register had an obscene hand gesture icon to show the good folks at Sony.

    1. Paul 172

      2 short planks...

      "How many countless lost billions, if not trillions of dollars could be traced back to the Sony corporation, and the consulting firm they used to deploy root kit technology"

      - it's a bit early to be smoking what i think you must be smoking.... Trillions "traced back" to the Sony corporation, indeed.... Plz explain or GTFO

      1. zen1

        re: paul

        I don't think trillions is out of the question, considering the saturation of PC's in almost every country. And given that Sony didn't necessarily create the concept of root kit technology, they are responsible for making it mainstream. And you know how kiddies love to copy/mod other peoples warez. Now, if you were to assign a low ball, arbitrary value of say $25.00 USD to remediate every infected machine that was directly or indirectly nailed courtesy of Sony, the price tag can get pretty hefty.

        If you look at all of the secondary and tertiary costs associated, for example, the number of governmental or business machines that were infected, simply because people brought a music cd in from home to listen to. It's rather difficult to quantify the total financial impact, because we will really never know the full extent of the impact, just because of Sony's base stupidity.

        1. Octopoid


          Missed this bit:

          "they are responsible for making it mainstream"

          In fairness as well, rootkit style infections have been around since the late eighties. It's called a rootkit because it granted root access to early Unix-like systems. Windows NT received it's first rootkit in 1999, 6 years before Sony released their nefarious version. SecuROM uses rootkit techniques to hide bits of itself to this day, and if you're played a modern game the chances of it being on your system are pretty high.

          I'm all for bashing Sony for being evil monopolistic bastards. Let's try and keep it true at least though - It somewhat waters down the argument otherwise.

        2. Octopoid

          I'm REALLY not trying to back up Sony here...

          And 1 PC is 1 PC too many, but those numbers are ridiculous!

          $1,000,000,000,000 / $25 = 40,000,000,000.

          You really think *40 billion PCs* were affected to the point of having to be recovered for money by the fsking Sony root kit?

          Now admittedly you mention secondary or tertiary costs, but even if we assume these unnamed costs run some $2,500 per instance, you still think 400,000,000 PCs? And that's assuming 400 million people (6-7 times the entire population of the UK) would somehow spend $2,500 removing a piece of software from their PCs. And this is going for the lowest possible trillion - you said trillion*s*, which is even more silly.

          Sorry, just no - you're overestimated by many 100s of thousands of times. It MIGHT have cost a few million, at most, worldwide.

          Still, it is officially "bang out of order" - not trying to defend it. Sony should have clearly paid dearly for such an arrogant action, and as far as I hear, did, to some degree at least. Let's not get too carried away with these figures though, eh?

    2. copsewood

      questionable legality of Sony rootkit v1

      As I understand this, due to the possibility of their infected CDs still being in circulation, their rootkit could still get Sony UK executives who commissioned the development of this trojan and authorised its distribution into hot water. For this to occur, someone would have to play a legally obtained and infected CD not knowing it was infected and this would have to modify their computer without their consent or authorisation. This, as I understand it, would be evidence of an offence carried out by those within Sony UK who decided to install this trojan on their computer through this route.

      A complaint leading to a public or private prosecution would have to come from an individual whose PC had been illegally modified, which is a Computer Misuse Act offence under section 3 (unauthorised modification). The complainant would have to own the PC and must not know in advance that the infection would occur. Possibly the reason no such complaint has yet occurred may be due to the ignorance of the law and of computer security amongst those likely to have been infected by this. Users of the operating system vulnerable to this infection tend to have little knowledge of computer misuse law or not to understand reasons for their computers becoming infected.

    3. yossarianuk

      re: zen1

      'innovative way to utilize technology for tasks other than its originally designed intent'

      Actually all the guy was doing was re-enabling a feature that the original PS3 was designed for...

    4. The BigYin


      Sony has lots of money, so Sony can buy the decision they want. (Technically it was BMG with the rootkits, but they are owned by Sony; so Sony can still be help accountable).

      Probably not much - what kind of pillock puts a music disc (it's not a CD as it did not conform to the standard) into the drive of a server or anything else important? It would have been home machines that got attack by the rootkit. Although that does not make it any more acceptable.

      Yup. If people were using the mod illegally they should have gone after those people. Next: everyone with a crowbar to be arrested as a burglar. Everyone with a knife to be arrested as a murderer. Everyone with a....and so on.

      It's not the tool (be it physical or electronic), it's the use that tool is put to.

    5. DrXym Silver badge


      Talk about a non sequitur. A few years ago Sony releases a rootkit (and subsequently settled a class action lawsuit over such), and now they can't sue someone else over a totally unrelated matter?

    6. Anonymous Coward

      epic fail

      you post is epic fail is every respect.

      I severely doubt you were personally affected by the "rootkit" (which wasn't really a rootkit), as it affected so few people. Or are you a Celene Dion fan?

      They weren't preventing hackers doing innovative things, they were suing GeoHot for maliciously posting the keys online, as he knew they were once the keys to piracy.

      Contrary to what some still believe, the PS3 is now permanently locked down again, which is why the pikey pirates are all crying and upset again. Anyone got a pacifier?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: epic fail

        "he knew they were once the keys to piracy"

        Did they open the entrance to the secret pirate cave in the Caribbean and Long John Silver's underwear drawer?

        "FAIL" because it's your best friend?

      2. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        It was a rootkit.

        It patched the OS so as to conceal the files containing the payload code. That's what rootkits do, hence the name.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'to run homebrew games'

    At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and start being DMCA violation?

    1. David Neil

      At a guess

      Round about the same time that Ford started sueing car owners for allowing their vehicles to be used in abetting a crime.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      They're ...

      ... one and the same thing. The PS3 isn't exempt under copyright law.

    3. Raumkraut

      DMCA violation ahoy!

      AFAICT, jailbreaking, by its nature, involves violating the DMCA.

      Except for smartphones, because the lawmakers think they're somehow special.

    4. Vic


      > At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and

      > start being DMCA violation?

      There is no evidence it ever did.

      Sony *claimed* this was a DMCA violation. That charge was not proven - and never will be, since the case has been dropped.


    5. Oliver Mayes


      But I believe in Sony's eyes, Jailbreaking = DMCA violation.

      Sadly they also have the enormous funds and legal teams to back up their world view.

    6. Highlander

      When he published the secret encryption key and showed other show to circumvent the copy protection

      That and distributing custom firmware which on the PS3 must, by definition, include some of Sony's code which is a direct copyright violation regardless.

      The problem I have with the EFF, is that this isn't about hardware, it's about software. The firmware in the PS3 is covered by a well written license that Hotz ignored. No one said he couldn't mess with the hardware, that was never the issue.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Sir @ Highlander

        "That and distributing custom firmware which on the PS3 must, by definition, include some of Sony's code which is a direct copyright violation regardless."

        So many absolutes with not an inch of wriggle room. Bold statements - please refer us to the dictionary 'definition' that logically means distributing custom firmware is copyright violation, thx.

      2. King Jack

        Geohtz Firmware

        Hotz did not distribute any sony code. He released a patch so the user had to get an original firmware and patch it. So no to direct copyright violation.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          @King Jack

          He released the PS3 root key. He certainly facilitated circumvention of copy protection in the device and this was what he was taken to court over. The DMCA supported Sony's complaint and they would have won. I think it's quite obvious why they didn't take it all the way and it has nothing to do with the fear of losing and more for wishing to close the book on the case which has become a lightning rod.

          1. Vic


            > this was what he was taken to court over

            He wasn't taken to court. The case didn't make it that far. It went little further than discovery.

            Given the posturing that Sony were doing beforehand, one can only assume that discovery didn't show up as much as they thought they'd find...

            > The DMCA supported Sony's complaint

            That is unproven. It might well[1] be false - but we'll never know now.

            > wishing to close the book on the case which has become a lightning rod.

            Prior to discovery, they did not want to close the case - they told the judge how important it was to get access to all of Hotz's machines and to go through them. They also told the judge how important it was for this case to be tried, as it was costing them significantly.

            The fact that they dropped the case after discovery would indicate that they over-stated its importance when talking to the Judge. That probably wasn't a bright move.


            [1] For one thing, it is very likely that SCEA were not the rights holder - so even if anything actionable under the DMCA had occurred, it is unlikely to be SCEA that could have taken that action.

            1. Highlander

              No, they were in court, that's why there's a permanent order against Hotz

              The court was hearing motions regarding jurisdiction and discovery related to that to determine whether the case in full would be heard in California or not. The very fact that the case had not been dismissed and was proceeding in that manner means that they were very much in court, otherwise there would not be a permanent court order against Hotz hacking Sony products.

              Regarding 'by definition', I should have chosen a better phrase, but did not. The point I was making was that whether he distributed a patch or not, it had to contain at least some copyrighted Sony code or other material in order to get the PS3 to load it.

              Not only that but since OtherOS and homebrew had already been enabled in 3.55 and earlier by previous efforts of others, obtaining and publishing the metldr key served no purpose other than to boost Hotz ego, tweak Sony's nose further and make game piracy possible (at the time) despite Sony being able to change the private signing key. There was no need for the metldr key to be obtained or published to enable OtherOS or Homebrew, Hotz is a liar.

              1. Vic

                The permanent order was stipulated

                > The court was hearing motions regarding jurisdiction

                And that's all it was hearing - whether or not it was the right court to try the case.

                The actual case had not made it to court, because it had not yet been decided which state would hear it.

                > otherwise there would not be a permanent court order

                Not so. Both parties stipulated to the order.

                > it had to contain at least some copyrighted Sony code

                That's not true either. A patch could exist which consisted entirely of Hotz's code. It wouldn't have made much sense until applied to Sony's code - but that's irrelevant, it still would have been his alone, and his copyright.

                > Hotz is a liar.

                Hotz said many things which proved to be true. You've said many thing which are clearly not. I'm afraid I'm not prepared to take your word for it that he is a liar.


    7. Oninoshiko

      When he

      When he puts up a page saying "use this code to play your pirated games," and not a moment before.

      He has said it's to allow running of homebrew software and it can be used to that effect. Sony has recently taken efforts to eliminate homebrew software (by the removal of the "Other OS" option), therefore, general presumption of innocence not withstanding, I have every reason to believe him.

      Maybe we should force makers of movie cameras out of business because people sneak them into theaters?

    8. durandal

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

      The point at which they charge him, I suppose.

      The problem with his settling out of court is that nothing gets tested in the public eye, which is a shame. Hardly unexpected though.

    9. John G Imrie

      Re: 'to run homebrew games'

      At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and start being DMCA violation?

      That's an easy one. It's when Sony says it is.

    10. DrXym Silver badge

      As soon as he started releasing code & keys

      The DMCA provides exemptions for academic & fair use and other explicit cases where circumvention of content protection is allowed / defensible. These do not include releasing a bunch of code & keys and bragging about it. Doing so meant Sony could easily and truthfully say he was facilitating unauthorized access to copy protected content. Because he was.

      It's his own fault for being such a big mouth. Ed Felten has disclosed a pile of stuff under academic freedoms protected by the DMCA. He was even involved in the Sony "rootkit" fiasco.

  4. Gary Holcombe


    Who the hell are these morons who think they have the right to hack into someone elses product. Lets get something straight here. When the PS3 got hacked, people started ripping games to the HDD, copying games, and it totally messed up online play, as anyone who tried to play COD will tell you. This Holt guy is just a complete prat and I hope this action Sony threatened him with will be a warning to others.

    Just because you buy a product, it does not mean you have the express rights to start altering it in any way you feel fit. The company still owns the design and code.

    As for donating money to a organisation against the Anti Piracy teams, well, that says it all really doesnt it.

    1. Dagenhamdave
      Thumb Down

      @Gary Holcombe

      "Who the hell are these morons who think they have the right to hack into someone elses product."

      You mean he stole the physical device he hacked into as well. Now that is bad.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "Just because you buy a product, it does not mean you have the express rights to start altering it in any way you feel fit. "

      Yes it fucking does.

    3. yoinkster

      @Gary Holcombe

      I bought a car from ford with some very clever code in the ECU. I decided that I wanted to change that code to increase power output. I purchased a handheld unit that plugs straight into the car and it did the work for me. I've also changed the suspension to give it a lower profile. Thus I have changed both the design and the code.

      Have I just broken the law as per your interpretation? If I have them I'm glad you aren't in charge of anything.

      Yes - hacking the PS3 meant people could break the law and steal games. But the actual act of hacking the PS3 must never be considered illegal.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Morons

      "As for donating money to a organisation against the Anti Piracy teams, well, that says it all really doesnt it."

      Nope. And the "Anti Piracy teams": are they your favourite comic book characters? "Oh noes, Anti Piracy teams, corporations will not shower us with shiny unless you jail people!"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Just because you buy a product, it does not mean you have the express rights to start altering it in any way you feel fit. "

      Yes it does.

      1. Highlander

        You can do whatever the hell you want with...

        ...the hardware. you can take your PS3 and turn it into a George Foreman grill, you can make it a rather large doorstop, you can fry the internals if you like, Sony doesn't really care. The car analogy never works, and I'll not bother even touching it because it's such a straw man. This is not about hardware or a consumer's rights, this is about software, licensing and circumvention of security/digital protection.

        The thought that you can do whatever you want once you buy it, does not extend to the software. It never has and never will. That is why software is licensed. Inconvenient though it may be, without software licensing and copyright, we would have no video games and much of the technology industry we have today would be vastly different.

        1. Oninoshiko


          Have ever even SEEN a modern automobile? Since you apparently just arrived (I took the long way myself) from 1985, Doc Brown, let me clue you in: a modern automobile has upwards of 50 microprocessors. These run (cue shock and surprise) SOFTWARE which monitors and controls systems throughout the vehicle. The person making the "car analogy" SPECIFICALLY said altering the car's software (which people do). Really I have a hard time calling this an analogy, as it is EXACTLY what GeoHot did.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton


      We best get rounding all those circuit benders up!

      Casio are going to have a field day.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    If you dont like it

    then don't buy Sony products.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      Sadly that can be a lot harder than half the cretins on here, shouting about boycotting Sony, think it is.

      Sony make a ton of parts of other kit like CD drives that go into all manner of PCs and car AV kit. You really have to study the back of any DVD case or cinema poster to make sure Sony or one of it's many, many subs are not involved. Some obscure indy band knocks out CDs on their own but their record company needs to put out a live DVD, they may well find the only distribution channel big enough would be some tinpot production mob owned by....the big S! Metal

      I am not defending Sony, I try hard to avoid buying any of their kit as it's shite, but they are growing larger and larger and avoiding their hideous tech tentacles is getting harder and harder.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've been avoiding them since the rootkit debacle

      Since the rootkit debacle, the only Sony products I've bought have been second-hand (completing my James Bond DVD collection, beyond that I won't even get them second-hand!).

      Which set me thinking "If you buy a locked-down product second-hand, and so don't open the shrink-wrap, make an agreement with the manufacturer, etc... do you have more legal freedom for jailbreaking it?"

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        Sony wouldn't give a shit if someone released a crack which irrevocably turned a PS3 into a Linux media player. They wouldn't give a shit if you cracked your own PS3 and didn't disclose the key.

        What they absolutely give a shit about is crackers disclosing keys that facilitate piracy on their multi billion dollar investment and they have the law on their side in the matter.

        For all the idiots supporting Geohot, I bet only a fraction of them even own a PS3. I can't think of many reasons for an owner to support their console being exposed to endemic piracy, and PSN to griefers and cheats. Both of which are natural consequences if Sony had sat back and done nothing.

        1. Vic


          > They wouldn't give a shit if you cracked your own PS3 and didn't disclose the key.

          Their affidavits to the Court say the very opposite of that statement.

          Of course, they might be lying...


          1. DrXym Silver badge


            Hogwash. The DMCA is to prevent circumvention of copy protection to facilitate unauthorized access to copyright material. It wouldn't even apply for some guy who figured out how to irrevocably turn their PS3 into a dedicated XBMC device.

            Also, common sense should tell you that Sony would react in massively different ways depending on the threat to their revenues. A handful of XBMC conversions is background noise. Endemic piracy represents hundreds of millions of dollars of lost sales and the latter is exactly what Geohot was facilitating. Hence the reaction he received.

            1. Vic


              > Hogwash.

              Ah. Reasoned argument. What a refreshing change.

              > The DMCA is to prevent circumvention of copy protection

              I've not disputed that.

              What I've disputed is whether or not this was a DMCA violation - and, as no court has adjudged it to be so, it is currently not. that's the whole point of "innocent unless proven guilty"...

              I've also disputed whether Sony would care if you modified your own box. You told us in no uncertain terms that they would not. Sony has told us in equally uncertain terms that they would.

              If you are actually speaking on behalf of Sony, perhaps you'd like to tell us in which capacity you are employed by them? And if you're not, why should we believe what you say on an Internet forum, rather than what Sony has said in a sworn affidavit to a court?

              > Also, common sense should tell you

              Common sense would tell you that a plaintiff should first demonstrate grounds for filing a case - such as, for example, being the rights holder. SCEA haven't done this - indeed, in numerous other places, they have been very clear that it is SCEI who are the rights holders.

              Common sense, as you would have it, really doesn't apply.


              1. DrXym Silver badge


                You don't get it. Sony would have no legal recourse if someone modded a box without contravening the DMCA. The DMCA is specifically there to prevent people circumventing content protection & obtaining unauthorized access to protected content, not to stop someone who figures a way of irrevocably turning a box from using Game OS to Linux for example.

                It's also quite obvious that Sony's reaction is directly related to that as well as the threat the "hack" posed. For example someone else was blathering about how MS is cool with Kinect hackers conveniently ignoring that Sony is cool with Move hackers. Such hacking doesn't pose a threat, doesn't contravene the DMCA so they don't care.

                1. Vic

                  And iterate :-(

                  > You don't get it.

                  Well, one of us doesn't.

                  > Sony would have no legal recourse if someone modded a box without contravening the DMCA

                  By Sony's argument, that is a null set; they claim that any rooting of the box - in any numbers, for any purpose - is a contravention of the DMCA.

                  They are probably wrong - but that doesn't stop them launching a huge lawsuit against anyone they *accuse* of being an infringer. Such is the case with Hotz - he has *not* been found guilty of anything, because he has not been tried for anything. He has stipulated to something because he is just some kid that doesn't want to be dragged across the country by a multinational with a penchant for jurisdiction-shopping.

                  > The DMCA is specifically there to...

                  Nevermind what you think it's there for; it's *being used* to stifle that which you say it is not there to do. The US legal system permits this sort of abuse, simply because it is often ruinously expensive to win in court.

                  > It's also quite obvious that Sony's reaction is directly related to that

                  That is not obvious at all.

                  ISTM that Sony's reaction is designed purely to cause fear. They know they screwed up the security, and they're attempting to use financial muscle to intimidate anyone who might benefit from their screw-up - whether such benefit would be lawful or not.

                  > so they don't care

                  Once again, you're speaking on Sony's behalf, and in opposition to their sworn affidavits. Would you like to clarify your position within Sony?


                  1. DrXym Silver badge


                    "Once again, you're speaking on Sony's behalf, and in opposition to their sworn affidavits. Would you like to clarify your position within Sony?"

                    No, it's called empathy. I can understand their motivations in this regard which are obvious. I've been hugely critical of Sony on plenty of occasions but this is not one of them.

                    1. Vic


                      > I can understand their motivations in this regard which are obvious

                      So you're simply assuming that they agree with you, even though they told the court something entirely different.

                      I get you.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite happy to live without Sony

    I've kept Sony at arm's length for some time now since the rootkit debacles, but this entire sad sorry affair has definitely seen me stand firmly in the boycott camp. It's a shame, as they've made some nice kit over the years, but the way they do business is just ridiculous.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did this horse break its leg at Newbury?

    "This money goes to the EFF in hopes that America can one day again be a shining example of freedom, free of the DMCA and the ACTA "

    Good luck with that.

    As for all anyone implying financial repercussions of Sony's bullying, yes, it is true: Sony sold 3 TVs and 5 PS3s less than the previous month. They are devastated and would do anything to improve their PR to gain back the half dozen lost customers. Oh wait, a dozen were born while I wrote that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They're loosing alot more sales than that... There's an awful lot of hate around for Sony nowadays. I myself have more talked people into NOT choosing Sony in the past month.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon


      "Oh wait, a dozen were born while I wrote that"

      So are you saying there are now a dozen born every minute instead of one?

      Bow down to your corporate masters, peon.

  8. Danny 5

    i am going to buy a PS3

    but not a new one, that's for sure. i'm a gamer and there's games on the PS3 that are exclusive to the platform, so i'm more or less forced to get one if i want to play those games, but there's a nice 2nd hand market, i'll stick to those.

    didn't buy any other Sony products anyway, to me they are just plain evil.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sony Already On My Boycott List

    They break the driver for stereo mix (record what u hear) on purpose with their Vaios.

    FU Sony, hope you go broke.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    geohot stfu

    he just can't keep his mouth shut - he better not do another rap though!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    All this self righteous whining... pretty pathetic, IMHO.

    Hotz broke the 'Other OS' system by showing how to use it to take over the PS3, enabling pirated games to be played. Sony had little choice but to disable the option (or modify linux on the PS3 and somehow lock you into that version!) - IT WAS HOTZ'S FAULT

    However Hotz and a cohort of entitlement-deficient idiots decides that Sony is really mean, so he decides to crack the security on the main OS too - and publishes the results. What can Sony do? Try to fix the damage and try to stop this prat from doing it again - What did he expect?

    The only, only reason you could possibly champion Hotz is if you want to play pirated games. He is personally responsible for the loss othe other OS and homebrew scene; if you are one of those claiming you bought your PS3 for the linux, then blame him.

    Just accept that it's an entertainment console, it's subsidised on the basis that you'll buy games for it, the manufacturer threw in an extra feature, and this idiot broke the lot. Screw him, not Sony.

    /Rant Over

    //No, I'm not a Sony employee!

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      "Hotz broke the 'Other OS' system by showing how to use it to take over the PS3"

      Yes, but wasn't that because the other o/s feature was effectively crippled?

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        "Yes, but wasn't that because the other o/s feature was effectively crippled?"

        OtherOS allowed people to install Linux or other operating systems on their PS3. It was "crippled" in the sense that the OS ran over a hypervisor which placed certain limitations on what hardware the OS could see. However the OS could use things like the CPU, 6 SPUs, physical memory, hard disk, USB ports, bluetooth, video out etc.

        The chief gripe was that graphics performance was fairly poor, but there were ways it could have been massively improved without cracking the hypervisor, e.g. by putting all the SPUs to work in a Mesa driver. Same for audio / video.

        Anyway Geohot basically shut the door on the feature by breaking the hypervisor which would have allowed a Linux app to take control of the entire machine. It's not hard to see how thought Sony thought this was a viable attack that allowed pirates to install custom firmware so they disabled Other OS. On the one hand they could piss off the handful of people who actually used Other OS, on the other they save their entire platform from endemic piracy, modding etc.

        It's not hard to see why they did what they did. It's also not hard to see who is to blame for the feature being removed - everyone's beloved hero Geohot. He couldn't keep his big mouth shut or comprehend the outcome and Other OS went the way of the dodo.

        Funny part is most of the people crusading for him almost certainly never used Other OS (I did BTW), and probably don't own a PS3 either. I doubt many legit PS3 owners would savour their platform turning to shit because of piracy.

    2. Dug Stokes

      To the Self-Righteous Whiner

      Sony removed the OtherOS feature from their new slim models BEFORE GeoHot even started working on this.

      Try again.

      1. Highlander

        The slim system was never sold with OtherOS, nothing was ever removed from them

        Hotz caused the OtherOS to be removed from the phat systems. Sony gained nothing financially by removing it from the phat systems and it was not costing them a penny to support. OtherOS was removed from phat systems specifically in response to Hotz hacking the hypervizor - before OtherOS was removed.

  12. Atonnis

    Simple reasoning...

    Sony have started to realise that whilst they are pushing a public image of a 'don't touch our stuff or we come down on you HARD' (whether you agree with that interpretation or not), their direct rival, Microsoft and the XBox 360 are getting huge kudos for the possibilities that Kinect has opened up to the community.

    Now that MS are also offering the Kinect SDK (or will be - I've lost track) they are getting more and more interest and being viewed in a much more developer-friendly manner. Sony, on the other hand, are dealing with the fallout after one oik and his attitude have generated after he opened up the piracy lock that no-one will admit they want to abuse, and all call out the word 'homebrew' like it's some magical word when all they really mean is that they want to steal stuff. Skirting around it by not actually admitting piracy and all whining doesn't really convince anyone.

    This approach always gets me a huge list of thumbs-downs, but I completely believe that anyone should be able to do anything with the hardware that they have purchased, and that they should be able to install what they like - provided they don't use any of Sony's software, link to Sony's network, or play anything that is specifically written and licensed to Sony's OS. Why did you buy a PS3 in the first place, if not to play the games or use Sony's software? If you don't want to use Sony products (software) then why buy Sony's hardware with pre-installed OS?

    And before anyone thinks of me the wrong way - I actually can't stand Sony. Their desire to force their own proprietary formats for memory cards, connectors, etc had me refusing to buy their products years ago.

    1. DrXym Silver badge


      "Sony have started to realise that whilst they are pushing a public image of a 'don't touch our stuff or we come down on you HARD' (whether you agree with that interpretation or not), their direct rival, Microsoft and the XBox 360 are getting huge kudos for the possibilities that Kinect has opened up to the community."

      Oh please. It's not hard to find hackers using Move controllers too, e.g. Console makers don't give a crap that people use their peripherals on PCs and so forth. They make a profit regardless, and hacking such devices is not in violation of the DMCA. i.e. I could hack a Move controller all day long but I'm not circumventing copy protection.

      But people hacking consoles is another matter, and console makers are consistent there too. Microsoft bans users in huge waves for running modded hardware. They've launched criminal complaints against hardware modders. Nintendo is no different. It's not hard at all to find reports of actions brought by all major console makers which is not surprising since all consoles rely on copy protection.

      If someone were to produce an exploit for the XBox 360 which used Kinect as an attack vector, the perpetrator could expect a very swift and heavy legal response from Microsoft just as fast as Geohot did.

  13. b166er

    I can't be fucked to think up a title

    What's to stop someone leaking information like this anonymously anyway. How did Hotz get caught?

  14. fpsasm

    I completely disagree with this guy..

    “This money goes to the EFF in hopes that America can one day again be a shining example of freedom, free of the DMCA and the ACTA (anti-counterfeiting trade agreement), and that private interest will never trump the ideas laid out in the constitution of privacy, ownership, and free speech,”

    Guys like this complain about Chineese companies stealing IP off American companies, but yet, when they would like a service which they are not prepared to pay for or not supposed to have, they'll will do the same as the Chineese, i.e steal.

    The idea that a single person, is more important then the mass is ludicras. In addition to that, he fails to see that he was stealing someone else's time and ideas, just because thousands of people work on something, put alot of time and effort, that doesn't make it bad, or is that me?

    This guy is so dense light bends around him.

  15. Mectron

    Who is the real criminal?

    Sony (a court provent criminal corporation) is the only criminal in this case. Sony as no right no dictate what i can do with the hardware I OWN PERIOD. it is not open to discussion.

    1. Vic

      Not so.

      > Sony as no right no dictate what i can do with the hardware I OWN

      Whilst that almost certainly *ought* to be the case, it is not.

      The DMCA gives all sorts of rights to people who should not have them. But it is the Law in the US.


    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Actually it is open to discussion

      Actually it's the DMCA that dictates people in the US cannot circumvent copy protection except for some well defined purposes and specifies the penalties that can receive if they do. The DMCA applies to obtaining unauthorized access to copy protected content. Tools which enable that access and their authors are likely to get sued.

      A hacker living there could quite happily hack away on a protected box and as long as they were not stupid enough to develop a viable circumvention, brag about it and openly disseminate it, there would be no issue. Unfortunately for Geohot that's exactly what he did. It's his own dumb fault really. He could have done so anonymously, he could have sought to done it under exemptions for academic freedoms.

      It's no good wailing that Sony is within it's rights to use the law. Microsoft have used it, Amazon have used it, DirectTV have used it. Basically anyone with protected content has used it to clamp down on cracking tools.

      It's funny how people don't get this. And EU countries have equivalent laws in enactments of the anti-circumvention measures of the copyright directive. I expect I'll collect some more thumbs down for pointing out the bleeding obvious to people who prefer to pretend such laws don't exist.

  16. Sly

    Sony and their kit

    Sony makes mainstream quality kit. This means it is made to JUST outlive the warranty. This wasn't always the case. I have an old boom box (ghetto blaster, portable stereo system, etc) tape deck with aux inputs. It's never been a great thing, in fact the speakers were a total loss right out of the box. I now have some pioneer car speakers in there that sound great in comparison. It's not so much a problem with their hardware as it is with their firmware. Sony can't seem to find their ass with either hand as far as software seems to go. My last free cell phone was a great case in point. The Ericsson division seems to think that rebooting your phone every other day to be able to switch cell towers is not a bad thing. they never released a fix for that in the 2 years I was contracted to that phone. Another prime example is all the epic fails on the PS3 updates requiring more updates to fix the problems introduced by the last update. Sony is becoming the new Microsoft in the fact that they are using their consumer base to finish testing products and finally end up with a 80% completed product after 5 years when they move on to the next "great thing".

    And yeah... by some of these commentards' logic, I'm a criminal for replacing the crap speakers in my boom box with better speakers. They can shove it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money down the drain

    The EFF is a bunch of con artists. That was ten grand thrown down the toilet.

  18. Martin Usher

    Just don't buy Sony kit

    I don't. I haven't found a compelling reason to spend money on this company's products, especially as I have no idea what they're doing or why.

    You can tell where these people are at with their disc players. BluRay is all about source protection, as a technology it doesn't work at all well compared to existing DVD (or even HD-DVD) technologies. That's not important, though -- you just sell enough people on it and they'll believe anything.

    1. DrXym Silver badge


      Blu ray works perfectly well. Stick disc in and it plays. What more do you want? I'd add that both DVD and HD DVD have copy protection schemes and HD DVD and Blu Ray share AACS as their copy protection scheme. Use of BD+ which is a stronger scheme that turns cracking into a timesink is not widespread enough which may explain why it hasn't been particularly effective.

      Anyway if you want to rip content from Blu Ray buy AnyDVD HD.

      1. Vic

        Re: What?

        > Blu ray works perfectly well. Stick disc in and it plays

        Not if you have a PAL-only TV, it doesn't.


        1. DrXym Silver badge


          Another utterly meaningless statement from you. PAL TVs play content from Blu Ray media perfectly well.

          Perhaps you're complaining that studios are releasing content at 24fps and TVs with only 25fps suffer minor pulldown judder. Blame the studios and consumer preference for 24fps for that. There is nothing in the spec that mandates movies should be 24fps and indeed the spec supports 25fps, 30fps, 50fps and 60fps too. As indeed did HD DVD.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like