Sony, GeoHot Settles PS3 Hacking Lawsuit

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-04-11 Print this article Print

Sony has settled its lawsuit against GeoHot, the hacker who published the secret key to jailbreak the PlayStation 3 console. George Hotz's code allowed users to install unofficial firmware and games on the gaming platform.

Hotz agreed to stop sharing the offending code and to also drop all future attempts to gain "unauthorized access to any Sony product," according to the permanent injunction filed in federal court on April 11. Sony dismissed the lawsuit in exchange.

Sony is satisfied with the outcome, Riley Russell, Sony America's general counsel, wrote on a blog post. "Our motivation for bringing this litigation was to protect our intellectual property and our customers, Russell said. "We believe this settlement and the permanent injunction achieve this goal."

Basically, under the agreement, Hotz may never reverse engineer or disassemble any Sony product, use any tools to bypass encryption or security features, or design and distribute any unauthorized software that can be used on a Sony platform. Hotz has denied any wrongdoing on his part.

"It was never my intention to cause users trouble or to make piracy easier," Hotz said in a statement.

Sony courted controversy amongst developers and videogame fans when it went after Hotz and 100 other hackers for disabling the PS3's security features. Sony claimed the lawsuit was in place to protect the work of engineers, artists, musicans and programmers who make PS3 games. The cracked code allowed users to play and distribute illegally copied games on the PS3.

Sony accused Hotz of violating provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prohibit sharing "circumvention devices" that bypass technology designed to prevent illegally copying copyrighted material. The iPhone is exempt from the law, which is why it is legal to jailbreak Apple's smartphone.

During the course of the lawsuit, Sony gained access to Hotz's PayPal, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Sony also were able to look at Hotz's computer and hard drives, delete all online postings about his PS3 hack, and view all the IP addresses that visited his Website over the past two years.

Commenting on the lawsuit or the agreement violates the terms of the settlement, Hotz told The Register via email. "Therefore, I have no comment other than this one. With that said, I do not like censorship, and I do not like censoring myself. Rest assured I am still fighting the good fight, in the best way I know how."

The presiding judge, United States District Judge Susan Illston, must still approve the settlement before it is final.

Sony still has to deal with the hacker collective also named in the lawsuit as the agreement does not extend to the group. The company is also facing a lawsuit brought by customers unhappy that Sony removed the ability to run Linux applications on the PS3. |

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