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Sony, Hotz Settle PS3 Hacking Lawsuit
Sony, Hotz Settle PS3 Hacking Lawsuit
April 11, 2011 | By Kris Graft

April 11, 2011 | By Kris Graft
Comments
    33 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Sony Computer Entertainment America and PlayStation 3 "jailbreaker" George "Geohot" Hotz said Monday in a joint statement that they have come to a settlement agreement in this year's PS3 hacking lawsuit.

The statement said the parties came to the agreement in principle on March 31 this year. Sony had filed for a temporary restraining order against Hotz and other PS3 hackers in January.

SCEA had alleged that Hotz distributed circumvention devices through the internet that were needed to access a critical level of PS3 security, and that he released software code used to run pirated software on the console in January.

SCEA said the ability for people to circumvent PS3 copyright security measures would enable piracy of games on the console, hindering creative and commercial viability of the company's game business. But Hotz had denied the hack is meant to facilitate piracy.

"It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier," Hotz reiterated in Monday's statement. "I’m happy to have the litigation behind me." Hotz continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Sony also confirmed Hotz was not involved in recent attacks on Sony websites and internet services. The company told Gamasutra that terms of the settlement are confidential and would not detail further facts regarding the case.

SCEA did not say in its statement whether it would pursue its allegations against "hacking group" Fail0verflow, which the company said in its original complaint laid the groundwork for Hotz' PS3 jailbreaking.

Most recently, SCEA and Hotz were butting heads over whether or not the San Francisco, California federal court where Sony filed the case held jurisdiction over New Jersey-based Hotz.

Prior to the settlement, the court had approved Sony's request for preliminary injunction, which meant Hotz had to remove postings related to the PS3 jailbreak from his website.

The court had also granted Sony the power to impound hard drives and other devices from Hotz, and authorized SCEA to subpoena records from Hotz' PayPal, web provider, Twitter, YouTube and Google accounts, raising privacy concerns among onlookers.

Despite the case having been active until now, Hotz was outspoken about Sony, previously calling the company "bullies" on his website.

In the wake of the settlement, SCEA general counsel Riley Russell also said the company is happy to put the case in the past.

"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," he said.

"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," Russell added.

[UPDATE: Documents obtained by Gamasutra also show that SCEA voluntarily dismissed its action against defendants Hector Cantero, Sven Peter, and two individuals identified only as "Bushing" and "Segher," who were all alleged members of Fail0verflow. SCEA also dismissed dozens of "Defendant Does" associated with the case.

VG247 has also published images of the settlement documents which prevent Hotz from circumventing the technological protection measures of any Sony product, or trafficking in such measures. Meanwhile, Hotz is publicly advocating a boycott of all Sony products in a post on his blog.]


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Comments


Kevin Patterson
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This has brought major negative press to Sony, and the Anonymous retribution didn't end up being a win for anyone.

I'm glad they settled and placed the whole affair behind them, so i admit i'm curious what the actual settlement is.

Sony's heavy handed attitude in this didn't win any fans though.

Jeremy Tate
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Seriously glad this move was made, better for everyone I think.



BTW, Anyone else think Hotz is completely incapable of taking a decent picture? Politics aside, he is one of the least photogenic people in the news today...

Brent Orford
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He looks like Frodo from Lord of the Rings.

Eric Geer
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Like Frodo and 10 years of wearing the Ring---transformation similar to Smeagol/Gollum

Matt Christian
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I think he's going for that 'coolest kid on 4Chan' look.

sean lindskog
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So we're bashing people for their looks now, huh? How depressing to read that on gamasutra.



http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/3/19/



Dunno about the anonymous part though, I guess some folks like to flaunt their internet f-wadism.

Ujn Hunter
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So did Sony agree to put OtherOS back or what?

R G
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Doubt it. I wish.

Daniel Mackie
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@ Robert Gill. I don't own a PS3 myself. And don't mess with Linux ( apart from having it on my laptop ). Could you fill me in on what you used the linux OS for and did it provide any real world advantages or outcomes.



Cheers.

Christopher Enderle
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Whether or not people used it, how useful it actually was, or what it could be used for isn't really the point people are making when they want an advertised feature restored to a device they paid for.

Daniel Mackie
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Wrong post removed.

Andrew Grapsas
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Using Linux let developers have access to a high performance, low cost computer that could be utilized for various academic or otherwise applications. The military even utilized them to build inexpensive clusters.

R G
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@Daniel: When you're developing games and use Linux on other machines, it's really handy.



Could you fill me in on why you felt compelled to make that comment, and did it provide any real world advantages or outcomes?

Andrew Hopper
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and at the end of the day, you are not free to express any kind of curiosity or ingenuity with the goods you buy, instead allow your usage of that product to be defined by a third party and enforced by the government. I call it a complete lose for everyone except Sony.

Joshua Sterns
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People have a right to protect their work from thieves.

Maurício Gomes
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@Joshua



Exactly!



Sony sold Mr. Hotz the OtherOS, and then removed it.



Hotz has all the right to put it back.

Dustin Chertoff
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You own the hardware you bought, but you do *not* own the PSN, Home, or any other integrated software systems needed for the hardware to work. Those rights remain with Sony, or whoever is the originating party of the software.



The only thing you truly own is an expensive paper weight. The rest is a service that you enter into an agreement to use. So long as you do not violate the terms of that agreement, you are entitled to continue using the service. This is all stated in the Terms of Service and EULA that you (and many others) likely ignored.



It is, and will always remain, Sony's platform to do with as they please. If you don't like their business practices, boycott their products.

Jonathan Osment
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@Joshua,



You also have to take into consideration who is effected by it. For example, If a publisher decides to "protect" their work by penalizing their legitimate customers, then the publisher really is not in the moral right.



Pirates are not necessarily thieves either, its not that black and white. Those who purchase Used Games are closer to "thieves" than the pirate, and by pirate I do not mean the one on the high sea's taking physical goods from one person and putting it in the hands of another.



In short, if the Publisher cannot or will not protect their work in the used game market, to go after "pirates" by ruining the over all user experience is out right wrong.



Finally, this case is about a user purchasing hardware with features, if they cannot do what they want with their hardware, then there is a problem for consumers everywhere.

Evan Combs
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Sony can limit your warranty, access to PSN, and other services that are included with your purchase of the console. They cannot limit what you do with your console though. You can put any software you want on it, you can alter any software on it, you just can't copy the software and distribute it.



Honestly I don't care about any EULA or Terms of Service that you cannot see and agree to before you purchase the console. I honestly find it hard to see such an agreement holding up in court. You can't sell someone software without any kind of agreement beyond copyright laws, then later go back and say you can only use it for this, this, and that. It isn't a service, it is a product.

Brent Orford
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+1 Evan. Well said.

R G
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Agree with Brent and Evan. Well said.

Ardney Carter
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Wired.com is running a version of a story with links to a .pdf of a settlement agreement (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2011/04/geohotaccor
d.pdf). The linked agreement has signatures from the Sony side of the dispute but not Hotz's side so it may not be the final version.



At any rate, the substance of the agreement is that Sony drops the suit if Hotz agrees never to jailbreak, hack, or otherwise tinker with any Sony product or make available any information pertaining to such activities ever again. Each violation of the agreement would result in a fine of $10,000. Additionally there's a section near the end that states (if I'm parsing it correctly) that if either party has issues with the agreement and subsequently brings legal action, jurisdiction automatically reverts to the favor of the party bringing the suit and the other side waives all right to challenge jurisdiction.



All things considered I'd have preferred to see how this played out at trial.

Brent Orford
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So will Sony "have issues with the agreement" after Hotz signs it, thus bringing jurisdiction to California?

Ardney Carter
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Yeh, that thought crossed my mind too. That whole paragraph just seemed weird. Maybe it's a standard type of thing for settlement agreements. But after all the yelling everyone did about it it seems odd to have it casually brushed aside in the event of future litigation. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Hotz signed it, there's a different page for each signature.



Surprising end to all of this.



Hotz could always move to a jurisdiction that favors consumer rights over corporate rights, crack say the NGP, and then file action against Sony first to get choice of jurisdiction :]



Wish more settlements were made public, it's scary wondering what kinds of deals companies are making in the legal realm.

Jason Lee
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What's that acronym/buzzword again?



Oh yeah, it's called a EUUUUUUUUULA...

David Oso
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that's so weird that Sony would let failoveflow and the German hacker go:/



it sounds like Sony must have made a deal with them or employed them to help better ps4's security!



No way Sony would allow them to go easily, they spent millions on the court case and you are telling me they would allow the case to be settled with agreement? just like that!?



Because there's no way Sony shaked in their boots because of Anon hackers.

I do hope and I'm sure those hackers will help better ps4 security.





Well no one won the court case, Hotz was fighting for rights to hack and own a purchased console.

Sony fighting for Hotz to be sued for uploading mrtdr key online.

Both parties did not win.



Although Hotz did sort of win because all the thing Sony threw at him were for nothing- order retraint, hdd return.

Tom Baird
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They want to prevent PS3 cracking. Personally I think this accomplished their goal. For one, I don't think Hotz is gonna go cracking any more Sony devices. He may very likely still screw around with Nintendo or Microsoft or anyone else except Sony, but he'd have to be pretty stupid to try to mess with Sony again.



Second, they've shown other hackers that they are in no way screwing around when it comes to security of their devices. I'm sure most people with think twice before tinkering with Sony hardware specifically, knowing their response to that sort of thing.



This whole episode both got Hotz to stop, and showed others that they don't just lie down and let security breaches go unnoticed. They arn't gonna go after him for money, that's stupid, he's wouldn't be able to pay even 1/10th of what they spent on the case.



Sony used it to set an example. And in that I feel they likely succeeded.

Ardney Carter
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Not so sure I'd agree with that assessment. Consider,Hotz was not sued when he was preparing to hack the PS3 or in process of hacking the PS3, he was sued AFTER he finished hackig and distributing the hack for the PS3.



The information was released into the wild, he got his notoriety and then had to sign a peice of paper saying he wouldnt do it again. Why would he need to do it AGAIN? It's done, it's out there. The takeaway for other hackers isn't "be scared" its "be finished, release, and Sony can't do jack except maybe ask you not to do it again".

Camilo R
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This kind of case was about set a precedent since jail-breaking consoles is still up in the air as to the legality of it. If Sony dropped the case, I think their lawyers probably didn't like the precedent they thought the case would set. I think they probably took a good look at the iphone case and had a change of heart.

Ryan Sizemore
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I wish they would just put back OtherOS, the systems already cracked wide open to the point it's not going to harm it anymore than it already has. I actually wanted to use Ubuntu for a while and I wanted it on my PS3. I finally spent the money for a wireless Keyboard/mouse set and got a bigger HDD for Linux, and then right after ordering the HDD the 3.21 update was announced and I was rightfully upset. I went ahead and put Ubuntu on it anyways, but then was forced to update because of a system glitch that stopped me from earning Trophies, so now I have space I can't easily retrieve on my PS3.

Andrew Traviss
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I have to point out that you basically just said that being able to earn trophies in PS3 games is more important to you than having Linux installed.

sean lindskog
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;)


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