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PlayStation (Games) Sony The Courts Games Your Rights Online

Judge Lets Sony Access GeoHot's PayPal Account 288

Posted by timothy
from the sweet-of-him dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from TechDirt that says "Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero has awarded Sony a subpoena that grants the company access to the PayPal account of PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz, also known as GeoHot, for the last two years. Emil: Spero ruled that the Japanese console maker may acquire 'documents sufficient to identify the source of funds in California that went into any PayPal account associated with geohot@gmail.com for the period of January 1, 2009, to February 1, 2011.'"
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Judge Lets Sony Access GeoHot's PayPal Account

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  • Sony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What fucking right do Sony have to pore through his finances? Surely that's a matter for law enforcement and the courts (I know, naive, right?).

    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

      by twidarkling (1537077) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:47PM (#35524248)

      Since it's a civil suit, law enforcement doesn't really have a right to go through his financial records. There is something called "Discovery" though, where each party in a case can petition the courts to force the other side to turn over pertinent records that they believe could help make their case. Discovery is what gives Sony the right, since they managed to convince a judge that the information there could be constructive to their case.

      • by phrostie (121428)

        can geohot ask to see Sony's and the judge's bank records?

        it would be interesting to compare them.

        • by Moryath (553296)

          Geohot's lawyers should.

          Of course, the judge is probably going to rule that "irrelevant" and deny it. That Sony-logo'ed swimming pool that magically appeared in his backyard is of course completely unrelated to any judicial rulings...

    • by blair1q (305137)

      When you're suing someone, you are law enforcement. You don't have a right to barge in and demand the records, but you can petition the court to allow you access to them.

      Conversely, the defendant here can request a look at all kinds of things Sony might be hiding.

      • for Sony's encryption key?
        • for Sony's encryption key?

          You jest, but how can they claim he infringed their property without disclosing what said property is? It would be like me claiming that Sony is using a huge swath of code they stole from me (protected by encryption & therefore DMCA), but not producing the code that I claim they stole for comparison...

          Well, not really, but it's fun to think that way -- Sony will just claim: He's broken the DMCA, we don't have to disclose our actual keys. At which point I would hope that a sane court would rule his D

      • by nomadic (141991)
        You actually don't need to petition the Court; you can just serve discovery requests and subpoenas. The party you're serving has to go to the Court to get it quashed.
    • by Nursie (632944)

      They're just using this to try and argue that money came from California, and therefore their crazy insistence that everything be tried there (when Geohot lives and hacks thousands of miles away) must be valid!

      I know it's an oft-trotted out meme, that it's hard to know where an act is committed in a case like this. But to me the answer is easy. It was committed where the guy was sitting at the time.

  • Simply Put (Score:2, Insightful)

    Oh hell no, they're going to arrange to not only him but anyone he sold to? This man did nothing illegal, and they're going to go after the funds he has made from his work. Sony, rot in hell. I will never buy from you again.
    • Re:Simply Put (Score:5, Informative)

      by stating_the_obvious (1340413) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:26PM (#35524074)
      you should dig a bit deeper. SCEA is seeking this information in order to argue that the case should be argued in California rather than New Jersey. So far, this has nothing to do with "the funds he has made from his work' -- and it likely never will. As to whether Geoot did anything illegal, that's what the whole case is about... if we're lucky, Geohot will prevail.
    • This is simply part of the on-going saga to "prove" that California is the correct venue for legal proceedings. The legal atrocities haven't even BEGUN.
    • Re:Simply Put (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:44PM (#35524224)
      Don't mean to stop the two minutes hate, but this is being done to determine if California would be an appropriate venue for the lawsuit. The defendant is from New Jersey and obviously wants the case tried there, where as having it there would be more costly for Sony. Sony is arguing that because the defendant may have received money from people residing in the state of California, it would be an appropriate venue. They want the records to see how many people from California sent him money. So far this has nothing to do with charging anyone else and it may be impossible to do with the data they get from this.

      As far as I know, what he did may have been illegal. Circumvention of copyright protection has been illegal in the US, although recently some of these restrictions have been eased. It's possible that in this case the court will decide the laws are unjust or don't apply. That's how the system works. You're stuck with a bad law until it gets repealed or overturned in court.

      In my opinion Sony shot themselves in the foot by removing the other OS feature. I think that really made developers work towards hacking the console more than anything else. To be perfectly honest, there have already been plenty of other reasons not to buy from Sony. This is the straw that broke the camel's back for you? Either way, I'll let you get back to overreacting.
      • Re:Simply Put (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @07:46PM (#35524788) Journal

        The defendant is from New Jersey and obviously wants the case tried there, where as having it there would be more costly for Sony.

        What do you mean by "more costly for Sony"?
        Sony does business in all 50 States. Getting a team of lawers in/to NJ isn't an issue for them.

        Sony wants this case heard in California because of the favorable Judicial climate there.
        In that sense, allowing the case to be heard in NJ would be costly, but only because it lowers their chances of winning.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        but Geohot did not do circumvention. he reverse-engineered (and borrowed heavily from others' work).

        i think this is a legal grey area that sony is attempting to resolve into a favorable black-and-white.

        Apple haven't gone after jailbreakers yet, have they? MS has benefitted massively from the Kinect hack, and wouldn't dream of chasing those responsible.

        i wonder what it is about sony that make them special?

    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @07:00PM (#35524386) Journal

      Oh hell no, they're going to arrange to not only him but anyone he sold to? This man did nothing illegal, and they're going to go after the funds he has made from his work. Sony, rot in hell. I will never buy from you again.

      Your sentiments are appropriate; I've also been involved in negative word-of-mouth advertising for Sony. Pass the word.

      However, this is Sony's effort to prove GeoHot did business in California, where Sony wants the case held. Fishing? Perhaps a bit of that too, I wouldn't put it past them.

      The real story, however, is the class action suit (CAS) against Sony for their removal of the OtherOS functionality in update 3.2.1. This is the update that GeoHot's mod reversed.

      It's clear to me that Sony wants to muddy the waters as much as possible. The lawsuit is an absolute monster, I wouldn't be surprised if they had to re-brand afterwards. Look to Groklaw.net for clarity, there's a huge amount of detail there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I've also been involved in negative word-of-mouth advertising for Sony. Pass the word.

        *sigh* This BS never ends.

        I can assure you that you will have NO effect on Sony, and even less on the personal fortunes of those who make these decisions untl

        1) You zero out all your personal debts
        2) Remove all your money from the bank. As long as it remains there, Sony gets a piece of it. And to be sure, they probably own a piece of your debt also

        This is the only way you can effect their entire portfolio. It applies to ev

        • by mug funky (910186)

          i'm not following you.

          what stake do sony have in our collective debts?

          the only things i've bought with a sony branding on them in the last 10 years has been digital betacam tapes. i could switch to maxell or fuji, but i'd have to get them from interstate. also, i doubt that represents a huge chunk of their revenue stream.

  • The courts are really letting Sony utterly rape everything about GeoHot aren't they? Not commenting on whether or not he deserves it.
    • by Moryath (553296)

      That's what happens when the judge is on the corporate payroll.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        unfortunately until we can prove this, it's an uphill battle.

        perhaps someone with strong financial backing could hire some PI's to suss these judges out?

        does FOI law cover the judiciary?

        just imagine what would happen if multiple lawmakers could be explicitly proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be in the pockets of sony or some other scumbag company?

        this would have to be separate from campaign contributions, which i have a whole other set of problems with.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        You are actually accusing Magistrate Judge Spero of illegally receiving money from Sony in exchange for a positive ruling for them? Do you have any evidence for this extraordinary charge? Why have you not gone to the District Attorney or the Chief Judge's office?
    • by mug funky (910186)

      of course he does. he was blogging provocatively. he dressed all slutty. he invited corporate rape.

    • Re:Corporate rape (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nursie (632944) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @10:51PM (#35525978)

      Not just Geohot.

      There are a variety of others named in the suit, though mostly they are not based in the US and so aren't involved so much.

      However there is also graf_chokolo, who has been thoroughly deconstructing the hypervisor and (unlike geo) publishing his work in a very community-oriented way. The guy's fascinaction is complete control of the PS3 and hypervisor from linux (not piracy).

      A week or so back he was raided by the German police and much of his equipment confiscated. Now he is being sued by Sony for almost a million dollars.

      Please go here and donate if you would like to support the efforts to fend off Sony - http://grafchokolo.com/ [grafchokolo.com]

      The guy just doesn't have the public profile that geohot does, but he deserves public support every bit as much.

  • Sony is dead to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sean (422) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:20PM (#35523990)

    I will never buy anything from them again, and I will do my best to persuade others from doing so.

  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:21PM (#35524002) Journal

    I donated to this guy to help support his legal fund.
    What the FUCK is the judge doing on this case? Seriously, this is becoming a complete and utter clusterfuck.

    I am a cynical fuck and I'm still surprised, this is just utterly incredible. Geohot has no fucking chance in this, with the way this is being handled.

    Utterly ridiculous, his privacy is just being completely ignored.

    • by flimflammer (956759) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:49PM (#35524260)

      They wont have access to your record as the date range Sony is requesting predates his legal fund. I donated $25 to his legal fund. We're both fine.

      I imagine what Sony is doing is trying to prove that his motivations are backed by money or something, and they're going to either find Sony competition or something donating large sums of money to him, or some large piracy groups interested in seeing him succeed, and the judge actually thought it was worth looking into.

      I think this is bogus to be honest. They should focus on the real problem at hand: did he have the right to modify his PS3?

      • by s4m7 (519684)

        They should focus on the real problem at hand: did he have the right to modify his PS3?

        Believe me when I say that is absolutely the LAST problem Sony wants considered by the court. Insofar as they are concerned, their EULA expressly forbids such modification, and by coming within 50 feet of a PS3, he agreed to that. There's enough legal precedent for modification that it's possible such things could be permanently eradicated, and if they inadvertently open that Pandora's Box, Sony would be in hot water with all of the copyright holders' associations as well.

        • by v1 (525388)

          Their eula may have also said he owes them his firstborn. Just because it's in the eula doesn't mean it's enforceable. Too many people have this kneejerk reacction when they hear "eula". And businesses WANT you to believe that of course.

          Look in ANY eula and you will find something along the lines of "and if any part of this is unenforceable, it doesn't affect the enforceability of anything else". That's because all eula are littered with unenforceable agreements. Some points you are agreeing legally t

      • by AbRASiON (589899) *

        I'm not worrying about Sony coming after me, I'm wondering what damn business this has to do with the case? It's just a violation of his rights.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)

          They want the case to be tried in California, where the courts have tended to be favorable to their causes. it's kind of how patent trolls always want to file in a specific (NE?) district in Texas.

          In order for that to happen, the court has to be able to claim jurisdiction meaning, essentially, it has to have something to do with California or the laws of California. They're trolling donations to see if they can establish some link to CA that would let the court claim jurisdiction and have the trial ther

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Geohot did something that is probably illegal, and the court is letting the plaintiff discover the facts.

      You sue someone some day, and you'll get the same legal right. And you'll be pissed if you didn't.

    • by DCFusor (1763438) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @07:43PM (#35524770) Homepage
      His privacy ain't all -- how about everyone he's ever done business with (paypal) or communicated with, or who even commented on the same blog as he did?

      Way, way, far, out of control. Should be, and probably is, completely illegal for them to do that. Where's the constitution when you need it? Oh....forgot, last few administrations have been using it for toilet paper.

    • by zill (1690130)

      I donated to this guy to help support his legal fund.

      I hope you didn't use paypal ;)

    • by Professr3 (670356)
      Well, that certainly illustrates the diversity of the word...
  • by jonfr (888673) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:22PM (#35524008) Homepage

    Sony is not a neutral party to this case. As they are not cops. They have direct involvement into this case. With this a due process is being bypassed and that is illegal in the U.S court system.

    This decision by the judge should be sued or somehow protested by GeoHots lawyers.

    • Discovery works both ways. GeoHot also has a right to find out what information Sony has, and how Sony plans to attack him legally.

      Believe it or not, this is fairly normal for our legal system.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:42PM (#35524214)

        Discovery does work both ways, but the problem is that those that have donated or otherwise given him money during that time period don't have the ability to fight this. We don't know exactly what they're up to, but I wouldn't put it past Sony to find a reason to drag them into it, with or without cause.

        • by blair1q (305137)

          They can't drag them into it without cause. You have to put the cause on the piece of paper you use to get the court to do the dragging.

        • by nomadic (141991)
          Yes, they do. They can file a motion for protective order with the court.
    • by yoshac (603689)
      Sony should also be required to show that any PayPal payments received from California residents were for the purposes of the PS3 circumvention.
      i.e. not any other payments to GeoHot, for example relating to other perfectly legal* activities such as iPhone jailbreaks.

      * as defined in sections 2,3 of http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-1201-Statement.html [copyright.gov]

      • by a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:57PM (#35524348) Homepage Journal

        They just want to find persons in California that has payed to his account so they can say that he got connections to California so the case can be tried there.

        • by russotto (537200)

          They just want to find persons in California that has payed to his account so they can say that he got connections to California so the case can be tried there.

          What difference would it make if he did? Does getting money from a California resident through an intermediary give a California Federal Court personal jurisdiction over you? Does it make a court in California the proper venue for a case where the defendant is located in New Jersey?

    • More to the point the information that would be gathered by the subpoena has nothing to do with the core case. Subpoenas given regarding information about third parties cannot be given without informing said third party unless the information is specifically in regards to the core case. This information has nothing to do with GeoHot bypassing copyright protection. This is in reference to Sony getting to keep the case in California, and should not be allowed without giving all third parties notice. At lea

  • HD-DVD anyone?

    I really wanted Bluray to win because HD-DVD was from the Microsoft camp. Not that I'm anti-M$, (I'm closer to being Pro-M$ - esp. since I started developing in Netbeans - ew) I just didn't want them to win (for a change). But I've got to say this whole episode makes me think that now I wish it had gone the other way. Someone does something that DOESNT allow piracy, that allows people to have a better chance of using THEIR hardware the way they choose to, and Sony bend him over backwards
    • by blair1q (305137)

      You've failed to establish that Sony's license permitted users to use what GeoHot did.

      I'm sure GeoHot will be trying to establish that. But you didn't.

      And unless you or GeoHot can establish that, your argument doesn't hold any merit.

      Sure, turning off formerly-blessed OS functionality is douchey. But if the license permitted Sony to do that and prohibited users from circumventing Sony's code, then tough.

      Unless somehow GeoHot can convince a court to void Sony's license terms. Until then, this is going to l

      • Ahahahaha. You actually believe that the "License" between users and Sony is actually enforceable.
      • Re:Is it too late? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @07:26PM (#35524620) Journal

        You might want to read the plain-text court transcripts on this case over at www.groklaw.net. PJ's work there is commendable, and the actual court transcripts are there to back up what she says.

        The license really didn't permit Sony to do that.

        The class-action suit against Sony regarding removal of OtherOS, and whether their license actually did permit that behaviour, or whether their use of warranty to claim the right, makes for some truly fascinating reading (I read the lot yesterday). I'd suggest popcorn, at the very least.

        It's one hell of a class-action suit against Sony and it does not paint them in a particularly favourable light. What's more, the outcome of that case may well directly affect that of their case against GeoHot. Is it illegal to circumvent an illegal action, or is it self-defense? Tune into Groklaw. As the news arrives, you'll find the court transcripts there. That stuff's definitive, not mere opinion.

        Look for "The Sony Class Action's First Amended Complaint, as text - Updated"

      • by zill (1690130)
        If you honestly think that shrink wrap licenses are valid (or even remotely reasonable), then please enjoy a joke [bash.org].
  • ...for me to actively wish bodily harm upon someone. That magistrate is on thin ice.

  • This has to stop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by U8MyData (1281010) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:46PM (#35524246)
    Last time I looked, you *buy* equipment, not rent it. It's like a car company telling you you can't put the latest glass pack exhaust system on your car, those shinny spinning rims, or ground effects because it isn't in the EUDA (End-User Driving Agreement). Or worse yet, what about making improvements to your house, oops, I mean the bank's house. Where does this stop? If you buy it you buy it unless they specifically want to come out and say what they appear to really mean, you don't own anything. One sure way to crater the economy further is to take away peoples rights to personal property. All in the name of "unrealized" or unearned profits. I wish I could do that :S...
    • The box says "Do not insert into ear canal". Should everybody who uses one to remove earwax have legal action taken against them?

    • by erroneus (253617)

      Sony is essentially saying that the key is a copyright circumvention device. (No need to argue that point, I disagree too) They may be making other claims as well in that general direction but I'm too tired to go over this crap again.

      This isn't about him modifying his own stuff. It's about him sharing the information so others can do what he did.

    • by sjames (1099) on Friday March 18, 2011 @01:17AM (#35526670) Homepage

      It's funny to me. In the 1950's we feared the "commies" and their lack of respect for property and ownership rights, but in the end it's the capitalists who are actually managing to strip those rights bit by bit (for everyone but themselves, that is).

  • How long do you think it will take before someone like 4chan goes after SONY and slams every one of their products, stores and services with negative ratings across the Amazon, Yelp, Google Products, etc landscape?
  • It's possible that the judge wants sony to find a good, solid reason to keep it in CA, so that he can rule against them later on. If he shines it on to NJ, he loses control of the case.

  • PayPal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @06:59PM (#35524370)

    If that cash went through a real bank, would the outcome be the same?
    PayPal's weird semi-bank-state allows for legal action I never heard of otherwise.

  • I want to send some more money to him but to the account they are trying to get records for. Maybe if we get 1000's of people donating a few cents it'll make it a pain in the ass for Sony.

  • Now that we have placed the email address geohot@gmail.com on the front page of slashdot, all 12 people who still read this site - and many, many, many, more bots that automatically scan it - have seen it. That poor email address is about to be so inundated with spam that its rightful owner will never be able to read anything on it again.
    • by russotto (537200)

      Now that we have placed the email address geohot@gmail.com on the front page of slashdot, all 12 people who still read this site - and many, many, many, more bots that automatically scan it - have seen it. That poor email address is about to be so inundated with spam that its rightful owner will never be able to read anything on it again.

      Which should be quite amusing when Sony gets around to doing discovery on it.

  • by goldcd (587052)
    If only they'd left the closing date open - we could all have donated $1, along with a lovely little message for Sony, to go into the court records :(
  • GeoHot is also well known for jailbreaking the iPhone. So how exactly is Sony going to distinguish between PS3 donations and iPhone donations?

    Perhaps Sony knows there are more iPhones per capita in CA than any other state and could be using the confusion to sway the court.

  • Who here is "against Sony's actions" while at the same time own any Sony equipment... especially a PS3?

    I gotta tell you, I started hating Sony long ago and it played a role in my decision not to own anything Sony. And as the years went by, my feelings about Sony were only reinforced.

    But I wonder about you people out there hating Sony too, but at the same time buying their stuff.

  • by Whomp-Ass (135351) on Thursday March 17, 2011 @11:24PM (#35526168)
    Title 15, Chapter 1 captures most of Sony, RIAA, MPAA, behavior and declares it illegal with a $100,00,000.00 Fine. Hell, most mega-corps are guilty in some way of violating Title 15.1

    TITLE 15 > CHAPTER 1 > Â 1 [cornell.edu]

    Â 1. Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal; penalty

    Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

    Â 2. Monopolizing trade a felony; penalty
    Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

    Â 14. Sale, etc., on agreement not to use goods of competitor
    It shall be unlawful for any person engaged in commerce, in the course of such commerce, to lease or make a sale or contract for sale of goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities, whether patented or unpatented, for use, consumption, or resale within the United States or any Territory thereof or the District of Columbia or any insular possession or other place under the jurisdiction of the United States, or fix a price charged therefor, or discount from, or rebate upon, such price, on the condition, agreement, or understanding that the lessee or purchaser thereof shall not use or deal in the goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies, or other commodities of a competitor or competitors of the lessor or seller, where the effect of such lease, sale, or contract for sale or such condition, agreement, or understanding may be to substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly in any line of commerce.

  • You funded terrorism (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 18, 2011 @08:09AM (#35528644) Homepage Journal

    Congratulations to everyone who bought a PS3. You have funded terrorism. Sony will now use this money to scare the piss out of you. Will you give them more?

    If you give Sony money, you are the enemy of gaming and freedom, and you are an enemy of mine. I only wish Slashdot permitted a longer foes list.

    It is long past the time when we can pretend that where we spend our money does not shape our environment. It's called Capitalism, people.

Moneyliness is next to Godliness. -- Andries van Dam

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