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PlayStation (Games) Sony The Courts Games

Sony Must Show It Has Jurisdiction To Sue PS3 Hacker 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the quick-guys-make-up-something-that-sounds-technical dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "A California court today asked that Sony show it has jurisdiction over the hacker who publicized a 'jailbreak' for the PlayStation 3 console. Judge Susan Ilston, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, said Sony has to show that George Hotz, a hacker who posted a method of 'jailbreaking' PS3 consoles, has some connection to California if Sony is to claim damages for his work on the PS3." For his part, Geohot has moved quickly to fight back against Sony's accusations. His legal team issued a statement (PDF), and also pointed out, "On the face of Sony’s Motion, a TRO serves no purpose in the present matter. The code necessary to 'jailbreak' the Sony Playstation computer is on the internet. That cat is not going back in the bag. Indeed, Sony’s own pleadings admit that the code necessary to jailbreak the Sony PlayStation computer is on the internet. Sony speaks of 'closing the door,' but the simple fact is that there is no door to close. The code sought to be restrained will always be a Google search away."
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Sony Must Show It Has Jurisdiction To Sue PS3 Hacker

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:21PM (#34884166)

    Your knowledge of the law, admittedly scant, is also utterly wrong.

    Additionally, it's worth noting that the headline "Sony Must Show It Has Jurisdiction To Sue PS3 Hacker" belies typical /. cluelessness about any and all legal issues. You never have "jurisdiction" to sue somebody. COURTS have jurisdiction, not parties, and the jurisdiction means they have the power to HEAR the lawsuit.

  • by suutar (1860506) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:52PM (#34884570)
    Right. The court is asking Sony to explain why a California court (where they filed) has jurisdiction, because Hotz's lawyer filed a response saying "What's california got to do with it? He lives in New Jersey".
  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:53PM (#34884588) Journal

    Jury nullification works both ways.

    Don't do it.

  • Re:Great Legal Team! (Score:4, Informative)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:56PM (#34884624) Homepage

    The defense's argument is not that George Hotz isn't responsible. He is responsible. The question is whether or not what he did was illegal. They're arguing that there is little difference between jailbreaking a phone (legally exempted in the DMCA) and a console (still illegal per the DMCA.)

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Friday January 14, 2011 @06:57PM (#34884638)
    Derekloffin asked:

    Because others guys are doing it, it's okay for me to do it, or this case continue doing it? I don't see that as a particularly good defense.

    which was most likely in reference to this comment by geohot's Lawyer:

    On the face of Sony’s Motion, a TRO serves no purpose in the present matter. The code necessary to 'jailbreak' the Sony Playstation computer is on the internet. That cat is not going back in the bag.

    Note: TRO = Temporary Restraining Order.

    Sony's shy^H^H lawyers tried to get the court to give them all of geohots computer equipment before geohot had time to mount a defense. He was only informed of this attempt a few hours before the hearing.

    The "cat is out of the bag" statement wasn't addressing whether geohot is guilty or innocent of any crime. It was addressing the lame attempt by Sony to confiscate all of geohots computers. Sony said they needed the court to take this rapid and extraordinary action to keep the world from learning how to perform the exploit. Since the information was already on the web, seizing geohot's computers would not stem the tide.

    TL;DR: Sony was being an asshole and tried to use a temporary restraining order as an excuse to steal all of geohots computers. Geohot had already lawyered up and was prepared for this sneak attack.

    YAESF (yet another epic Sony FAIL).

  • Re:Great Legal Team! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:07PM (#34884776)

    The milk is spilled on the barn door and the horses are out of the bag! And no use crying over the cars in the yard.

    If we can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. -- Zapp Brannigan

  • Vroom (Score:5, Informative)

    by jam244 (701505) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:17PM (#34884886) Homepage

    Imagine taking in your car for an oil change and having the manufacturer remove your car's air conditioner, radio, and half its horsepower because of fears that other hypothetical individuals might abuse their vehicles.

    Awesome, Hotz' attorneys used a car analogy in their press release.

  • Re:Great Legal Team! (Score:4, Informative)

    by GryMor (88799) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:18PM (#34884912)

    That is not the only exemption, I believe 1201 f should apply as it is providing the information to allow the PS3 OS software to inter-operate with the software generating homebrew images.

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/1201.html#f [harvard.edu]

    IANAL

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:27PM (#34884992)
    There is already at least one class action suit against Sony for dropping the OtherOS feature.

    Before using a firmware release to disable OtherOS, Sony has said [ozlabs.org]:

    Please be assured that SCE [Sony Computer Entertainment] is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the "Install Other OS" feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases.

    IANAL, but I believe the fact that geohot was using the exploit to re-enable OtherOS will be a vital part of his defense against charges he violated the DMCA. My understanding of the current case law is that if you circumvent a security measure for the sole purpose of violating someone's copyrights then you are liable for prosecution under the DMCA. But if you circumvent a security device in order to exercise a "fair use" then you are safe. A recent example of this was the announcement by the US Government (I forget which department) that is was legal to jailbreak iPhones in order to change carriers.

    This then takes us back to the 1984 Supreme Court decision in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc [wikipedia.org] where they ruled that "making of individual copies of complete television shows for purposes of time-shifting does not constitute copyright infringement, but is fair use". The idea was that if there were valid (fair) uses of video recorders then video recorders were legal even if they could be used for infringement.

    IMO (IANAL), geohot's exploit has fair uses, such as restoring OtherOS, and other uses that would infringe copyright (pirating games). Without the fair uses, geohot might have been in trouble.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:27PM (#34884994)

    I suppose, but still seems darn weak.

    It directly addresses the legal standard for issuing a temporary restraining order, which is issued before the legalities at issue are determined to prevent ongoing harm that might otherwise occur while the case is progressing. That there is no reasonable basis to believe that the TRO would prevent any ongoing harm is the strongest possible argument against a TRO, not a "darn weak" one.

  • Please allow me to summarize replies to similar questions above yours: "Because a PS3 is not a wireless telephone."

    And the replies to that: "Yes it is. PS3 has voice chat and Wi-Fi."

  • by shentino (1139071) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:28PM (#34885604)

    Interestingly enough Sony's main claim to California jurisdiction is the "choice of venue" clause in their PSN ToS.

  • Re:Plan B (Score:5, Informative)

    by saihung (19097) on Friday January 14, 2011 @11:47PM (#34886764)

    There's a reason they did this in California. The first is that it harasses the defendant by forcing him to defend a suit in a place where he doesn't live. The second is that California is where most of the USA's IP lawyers keep their crypts, and where SECA is headquartered, and they can't be bothered to find/hire someone barred in New Jersey or Massachusetts to pursue a case there. Yes, they really are that lazy. The special appearance was absolutely the right thing to do.

    When I read Sony's application I knew there would be massive jurisdiction problems. I don't think the Sony Network agreement, even if the court finds that geohot agreed to it (good luck!), was written to cover this kind of litigation, and the rest of the bases for jurisdiction (Youtube? Paypal? Really, overpaid corporate law jerks?) are junk. The response is correct, too, that the Sony action seems to be bootstrapping jurisdiction for everyone else named through poor old geohot, which isn't going to fly. And it's also correct that there just isn't a good legal basis for issuing a TRO, which is supposed to be a TEMPORARY order in emergencies where there is a serious danger of impending harm.

    IAAL, but not THIS kind of lawyer.

  • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus,slashdot&gmail,com> on Saturday January 15, 2011 @12:45AM (#34887006) Homepage Journal

    Right. The court is asking Sony to explain why a California court (where they filed) has jurisdiction, because Hotz's lawyer filed a response saying "What's california got to do with it? He lives in New Jersey".

    The downside, of course, is that Sony can simply say, "fine, we'll refile in New Jersey, which the defendant has happily admitted has jurisdiction."

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

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