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Court Grants Sony Temporary Restraining Order Against PS3 Hacker Hotz

Court Grants Sony Temporary Restraining Order Against PS3 Hacker Hotz

January 28, 2011 | By Kris Graft

January 28, 2011 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

A U.S. District Court on Thursday granted Sony Computer Entertainment America a temporary restraining order against George "Geohot" Hotz, a hacker who circumvented PlayStation 3 hardware security measures to run unapproved code on the game console.

Judge Susan Illston wrote in court filings this week that plaintiff Sony presented enough evidence to show that the company is "likely to suffer irreparable harm" due to the actions of Hotz, therefore granting the temporary restraining order.

The judge also said Sony submitted substantial evidence to show that Hotz violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The company claimed Hotz's actions "facilitate software piracy" on PS3, although Hotz maintains he does not support piracy.

Earlier this month, Sony alleged that Fail0verflow, a "hacking group," laid the groundwork for Hotz to "unlawfully ... [gain] access to a critical level of the PS3 System" protection measures in December.

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

Sony argued that " public benefit results from defendants' [Hotz's and Fail0verflow's] activities. No new works have been created; indeed, piracy deters creativity" by "siphoning away compensation" from game creators. The court this week agreed that "an injunction is in the public interest."

This week's order means the court demands that Hotz can no longer distribute any means of "jailbreaking" the PS3. He's also legally barred from engaging in any acts of circumvention on PS3 hardware.

The court also accepted Sony's proposal for the right to impound any computers, hard drives, USB sticks and other storage devices belonging to Hotz or that are in his custody or control.

The two parties are to convene and set a hearing date, when Hotz and his lawyers can argue why the court should not issue an injunction.

After Sony filed a proposal for the temporary restraining order earlier this month, Judge Illston questioned why the case was brought before a California court instead of one in Hotz's home state of New Jersey.

Hotz asserted that the California court did not have personal jurisdiction over him, but after Judge Illston reviewed all of the documents, the court determined he is in its jurisdiction "because he purposefully directed his activities at the forum state."

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