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Sony The Courts Games Your Rights Online

Sony Files Lawsuit Against PS3 Hacker GeoHot 508

Posted by timothy
from the poor-sportsmanship dept.
Kayot writes "George Hotz, or, as he is known on the internet, GeoHot, has been served court papers. Shorty after Team fail0verflow discovered faults in the PS3's TPMs, Geohot and others figured out how to extract the long sought after holy grail encryption keys. Apparently Sony is not pleased and is very keen on defending their poorly defended system with the US legal system. The basis is that GeoHot released programs that allow the signing of homebrew which can be used to make PSN-like games out of normal PS3 games. However GeoHot has never supported any form of piracy and in fact has taken a constant stance against it."
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Sony Files Lawsuit Against PS3 Hacker GeoHot

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  • Re:LOL, DMCA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:06AM (#34846968) Homepage Journal

    I smell the "substantial non-infringing use" defense, and Sony has handed him a credible argument to use with it: Removing OtherOS.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:09AM (#34846996) Journal

    A lawsuit was pretty much inevitable; Sony needs to show its shareholders that it's doing something. To be honest, I find it hard to imagine that they won't succeed in making Mr. Hotz's life very... expensive indeed. Of course, with the cat now well and truly out of the bag on PS3 security, anything they do now can't really be more than a mixture of revenge and deterrence.

    The real question for Sony (and other console developers) is how they pitch the longer term response to this. With hindsight, it now appears that the long-legendary PS3 security set-up wasn't so stellar after all. Prior to Sony's removal of OtherOS, there were only tiny cracks in the wall and Sony could reasonably have expected it to last several more years. Following the removal of OtherOS, the demolition of Sony's safeguards was swift and ruthless.

    One possible inference, therefore, is that Sony's decision to grant PS3 users a "walled garden" in which they could - to some extent - do what they wanted with the system was what really provided the PS3 with its 5-year immunity from piracy. The commercially-minded piracy people, and the bored teenagers who wanted to play pirated games, just weren't good enough to break a console's security (even if major flaws did exist) and the people who were good enough; they weren't interested, as they could already do what they wanted with the system.

    If I were Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, I would now be urgently investigating the possibility of incorporating a similar "walled garden" OtherOS equivalent into my next generation hardware. Yes, the numbers who might actually use it would probably be small - and yes, said users aren't worth much commercially as they probably don't buy many games, but 5 years of no piracy on the system is a pretty big payback.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:21AM (#34847096) Homepage

    Leave it to a MegaCorp to do the wrong thing.

    Dear Sony, All you are doing is now causing this information, that you want kept secret, to become mainstream news. Remember DeCSS? It was a minor thing until the Last batch of idiots sued the guy and it became wide spread and copied 800,000 times overnight.

    So I suggest you hire some competent people to run your legal department, as they really do not know what that are doing.

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khchung (462899) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:31AM (#34847200) Journal

    Sue that information right off the Internet! It'll work, we promise.

    The naivety of this is amazing. When the mafia burning down someone's shop, it is not because they are trying to recup any losses, but rather to send a "Don't mess with us" message to OTHER shop owners.

    Sony don't need to win anything from this suit, they just need to drag GeoHot through a very expensive lawsuit hell as a message "You better have a lot of money before messing with us!" to other future possible hackers.

    This is the same tactic with the RIAA against filesharers (but there are simply too many to fight against), and the same tactic Adobe tried against Skylarov (sorry, maybe mispelled), and the same tactic the US govt is using against Assange. No different from any school bully, you mess with him, you got beaten by whatever means available.

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:33AM (#34847216) Homepage

    This is less about putting the genie back into the bottle and more about punishing offenders to discourage others from doing the same to whatever Sony sells us next.

    I wonder though. Is this a means or method of circumventing copyright protections? This code-signing thing is about the ability to create new code, not access existing code as I understand it. Am I wrong? (If so, please show me.) The DMCA only protects copyrighted material to my knowledge and a code signing key, which is more of a secret than a copyrightable or patentable thing, and I don't think it really applies in this case. (Not that it would stop sony from trying to sue under the DMCA -- after all, it seems most of the wins under intellectual property law seem to have been about exploiting weaknesses in knowledge and understanding of technology as far as I can see.)

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:35AM (#34847246) Homepage

    Sony don't need to win anything from this suit, they just need to drag GeoHot through a very expensive lawsuit hell as a message "You better have a lot of money before messing with us!" to other future possible hackers.

    Yeah, because that has worked so well for the many hackers that have cracked previous consoles, developed modchips, etc.

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:46AM (#34847346)

    The technique(hack) used by Geohot is usable on any locked core, such as TV sets, Ipods, smart phones and as well as any other DRMed hardware. Sony probably wants Geohot to keep a lid on it to prevent their other hardware root keys from being found out. If the tech was released on the Internet all encryption keys to signed hardware would be easily removed from such hardware.

  • by Suzuran (163234) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:53AM (#34847414)

    I stand by my earlier comments. Sony must either enable homebrew or it will be enabled later without their consent. This is not difficult:

    First, make a homebrew/hobby developer package and sell it. The SDK and hardware provided ABSOLUTELY MUST be absolutely identical in every way to that supplied to commercial developers. Pricing should be high enough to make a direct profit (Since there will be fewer games sold for these units), but low enough to be obtainable. Say, $1500-2500 or so. There should be no software support entitlement (to control costs), and a non-disclosure agreement on any proprietary technologies in the SDK.

    Second, make a homebrew/hobby version of the PSN. There is already a developer version of the PSN, and this would ensure that everyone stays separated. Access to the homebew/hobby PSN must be conditioned upon acceptance of the non-disclosure agreement. Then create some message boards or forums in the PSN. This would enable the hobby/homebrew programmers to communicate with and support one another while being assured they are in compliance with the NDA. Consider allowing commercial developers access to the hobby/homebrew PSN as well, so if we find anything interesting they get access to it too.

    The third item is the only item that is really new. There should be some sort of release mechanism where games can be released from the homebrew/hobby community to the rest of the world running retail hardware. This shouldn't be free - Sony needs to pay their bills, and it would discourage releasing crap that sucks. Homebrew releases should be prevented from generating profit for the programmer, to keep commercial developers from using the homebrew SDK as a cheap substitute for the commercial SDK. The homebrew developer would pay Sony's QA costs, and once the QA passes, the release is cryptographically signed and becomes a free item in the PSN online store. If the game has serious commercial potential, perhaps an agreement could be made between Sony and the programmer for a full commercial release, with Sony keeping the majority of the proceeds. This is so there is an incentive for upgrading from the homebrew SDK to the commercial SDK if you are interested in making a profit.

    It is of EXCEEDINGLY VITAL importance that the only difference between a commercial SDK and homebrew SDK be the software support entitlement and ability to generate a profit.
    If there are ANY technical limitations in the homebrew SDK that are not present in the commercial SDK, people will be motivated to jailbreak, and we will have the present situation all over again.
    As long is there is no reason to jailbreak the machine other than piracy, everyone wins. (Except the pirates, and nobody important cares about them.)
    In addition, the presence and popularity of this homebrew/hobby SDK would also give Sony more credibility when prosecuting pirates.

  • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:09AM (#34847572) Journal

    If I were Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, I would now be urgently investigating the possibility of incorporating a similar "walled garden" OtherOS equivalent into my next generation hardware.

    I don't think that will be a viable strategy any more. Sony has destroyed the trust such a move would have bought. Now when someone sees "OtherOS" on a console, they won't think "this is what I want, I don't have to hack", they'll think "It's only a matter of time before they take that away for no reason. I better hack faster."

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gparent (1242548) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:54AM (#34848054)

    The reason the PS3 wasn't cracked is because hackers had no reason to before not long ago, not because they were scared of lawsuits. Was GeoHot scared of a lawsuit? Enough for him not to work on the crack? Obviously not.

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:44AM (#34848794)

    Back in the days of Prohibition, "wine" was sold as mashed bricks/packages of grapes or grape juice.

    They would come with instructions like "please be careful not to put in a jug with 2 gallons of water and leave in a dark place for 2 months lest it ferment and turn into wine." [reignofterroir.com]

    By rights, there should have been an uprising against all this DRM crap and crappy laws. I wonder why it hasn't happened.

  • Re:Come on Sony! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @12:02PM (#34849088)

    By rights, there should have been an uprising against all this DRM crap and crappy laws. I wonder why it hasn't happened.

    Because most people don't understand it. Everybody understands alcohol.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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