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back to article Sony buries hatchet with GeoHot in PS3 modding case

Sony has agreed to drop a lawsuit against a hacker who published the secret key used to jailbreak the PlayStation 3, in exchange for promises he will drop all future attempts to unlock the game console. The agreement ending Sony's controversial legal attack on George Hotz, aka GeoHot, was laid out in a permanent injunction …

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This is not acceptable on any level.

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Not acceptable

If its not acceptable to you then I suggest you write to both parties. I'm sure they'll both be happy to continue flogging a dead horse until you are satisfied.

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Bronze badge

WTF?!

<quote>“Our motivation for bringing this litigation was to protect our intellectual property and our customers, Russell said</quote>

OK, I believe the "protect our intellectual property" bit , but "protect our customers"? Really? In what wonderland?

IT companies (both HW and SW) these days are engaging in the sort of customer lock-in which would cause furor if it were applied to other industries (day, white-good or car manufacturer).

"Hello, you've purchased a <brand-name> car. You are not allowed to modify your <brand-name> car. You are not allowed to open the hood and look at the engine we have provided for you. You may not modify the fit-out of your car. You may only purchased parts and services from places *we* have approved. This includes petrol, by the way. While we realise that only a few of you will use your car for illegal or immoral purposes, you will all have to get approval from us before you go on a trip so that we may veto your going to places where we have no affiliates for you to spend money with. Don't even *think* about buying a <brand-name> car across the border where it is cheaper and then bringing it into the country."

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Silver badge

Re: WTF?

Actually, in the UK at least, vehicle manufacturers did manage to throw some spanners into the works of motorcycle parallel imports, they pulled the trademark laws and prevented companies selling the bikes from using their logos!

They also refused to honour warranties on EU bikes which have been brought into the UK. I think they based this argument on the vehicle being modified with LHD headlamps and MPH speedos.

How they manage to get away with this when the whole EU club is supposed to be based on the idea of free movement of people and goods is beyond me.

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Anonymous Coward

Close, but no cigar.

But there was still nothing to stop an owner of a parallel imported bike/car tinkering with the engine or modding it and they were highly unlikely to find themselves dragged through the courts for doing so even if they sold the details/hardware to do so on to other owners.

Manufacturers often pass warranty obligations onto a distributor in a region where they have no support presence at lower prices to the disty in the region on the understanding that they have no warranty responsibility so I can understand why a manufacturer might be a little arsey about supporting parallel imports.

The whole EU club is based on the idea of trebles all round and tasty back handers, sorry, bonuses and consultancy fees, when share prices rise, if that's coincident with the free movement of goods and people then so be it. How idealistic of you to believe it was ever anything else.

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Gold badge

Car manufacturers in EU

The car manufacturers also tried to get an EU ruling that the use of any parts or spares not manufactured by or supplied by the manufacturer was illegal. They claimed that the car would be unsafe if you used brake pads bought somewhere else, or body panels that were "pattern parts" instead of Ford, etc.

What happened instead was the EU saw sense, and just said that things had to meet certain safety requirements and testing, but did NOT have to be from the original manufacturer. Another example of how the EU politicians are not (yet) in the pockets of big business.

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Coat

Re: WTF?!

one of the main customers that console makers have, and the everyone seem to forget about, is the game _DEVELOPER_. The DRM is there to protect the game developer _from_ the end consumer who would like to pirate their games instead of paying for them.

I understand that DRM does harm guanine consumers in the same way that regional lock only harm paying consumers, while pirates enjoy a lot of freedom without paying for anything but their bandwidth. But without the DRM.... piracy will be a bigger problem.

Sony (as well as Microsoft and Nintendo) need to convince developers that they can make money on their console with little fear of piracy. And the DRM is one of the way that they do this.

Without game developers, the console is doomed to fail.

Without the end consumer, the developer will go out of business.

finding the balance that make everyone happy is the tricky part. I believe that Sony had done a good job on keeping the balance on the PS3. Had the PS3 never had the the OtherOS option from day one, this mess wouldn't have been as big as it is now.

P.S. I am not sure about this, but should someone manage to prove that the OtherOS is a core functionality of the PS3, wouldn't this mean that Sony can claim tons of money from US and EU because the console is also a computer?!

I'll get my coat, since I know that people will hate what I wrote.

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FAIL

They are protecting consumers

protecting them from freeloaders, the worst kind that hide behind works like "consumer rights" and "homebrew". The reality is these freeloaders scumbags just want pirate games at the expense of the platform and the gaming industry as a whole.

if you want to talk consumer rights violations where Microsoft shoved a half baked totally busted system prematurely onto the market knowing they could resell working replacements a few years down the line. 50m consoles sold to 25m Xbox games.

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Vic
Silver badge

Intellectual "property"...

> I believe the "protect our intellectual property" bit

You shouldn't. It's bullshit.

The PS3 keys are out there. They have been released. Even if Hotz has pulled his web page, there are a bazillion copies and mirrors in obscure places around the world. Sony simply cannot regain control by this method.

Interestingly, a huge number of people would never have bothered getting involved had SCEA not pulled such amoral legal stunts to try to suppress the information.

Vic.

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Pirate

Yes, the customers too

<quote>OK, I believe the "protect our intellectual property" bit , but "protect our customers"? Really? In what wonderland?</quote>

Networked gameplay is rarely fair when there are hacked clients about. So, yes, by fighting Mr Hotz, Sony are indeed also protecting the majority of their customers - the non-hacker customers who prefer an online gaming environment where participants compete on their personal playing skills rather than the technical merits of their cheat-clients.

Down-vote all you like, it's still true.

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Stop

condition met

"protect our customers"? Really? In what wonderland?

You've missed the point, the people who buy the console aren't their customers, just the consumer, it's the game developers who are the real customers for Sony. People should realise by now big business has nothing but contempt for us and they treat us accordingly. Stop buying the crap from companies that act this way.

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@AC

I agree with your sentiments about freeloaders, but your logic is wrong.

Just because a thing/right can be used to steal/infringe is not a good enough reason to remove that thing/right. What one must do is target the transgressors and punish them, leave others alone.

It is that simple and just because this is an electronic device does not change that one whit.

I have a hacked xBox, I could use it for all sorts of shenanigans but I don't. There's more than enough legit stuff floating about to keep me happy, I really just wanted to stream (legal) media to it.

Sony have been raging ass-hats and I for one will not be buying Sony.

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Silver badge

Of course it protects customers

Why do protecting profits / customers have to be mutually exclusive goals?

If the PS3 platform descends into endemic piracy neither Sony nor 3rd parties can expect to make so much money from game sales so there is less incentive to develop titles in the first place. Legitimate owners will be the ones who are screwed because they lose out on games which don't exist because it's financially not worth the time to develop them. Instead the platform would descend into shovelware hell like has happened to the DS & Wii.

Additionally, if you have a bunch of people running modded firmware using PSN services, they could easily cheat / grief / crash / exploit / disrupt online servers set up and run for legitimate customers. Again a service set up for paying customers is ruined by a bunch of dicks running aimbots, DDOS attackers etc.

And if the platform falls apart like this, then prospective customers will buy into another platform so the situation gets even worse. Less users means even less piracy.

So yes Sony is interested in protecting their profits. But their customer's experience is directly related to those profits too and vice versa.

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FAIL

You talk crap.

The keys are out there, but they are now worthless. Neither of the last 2 PS3 firmware have been cracked, the PS3 is locked up again. You can't play latest games, nor can you connect to PSN.

As much as the cluess idiots claim, Sony have indeed got the horse back in the stable door...

EPIC FAIL is the words that describe people that think somehow GeoHot won. He has $20k in debt over his tinkering.

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FAIL

The difference of course

Is that PS3 does not need to be hacked to be useful.. You can stream to it without hacking.

Infact, there is absolutely nothing that's legal and wothwhile for a hacked PS3. There are some illegal emulators and illegal piracy, and that's it....

So your lame excuse falls apart very quickly.

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Yes and No

You cannot go on PSN but you can play all the latest games. You would be a fool to buy them, as the legit copies won't work but the cracked ones play flawlessly. So locking the firmware is only driving customers who want homebrew into piracy.

Sounds like an own goal to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

" the worst kind that hide behind works like "consumer rights" and "homebrew". "

As someone who uses a hacked Wii to play 100% legal homebrew games and apps (WiiMC mainly, but lots of homebrew games to), I resent that. Most of us who hack our consoles aren't interested in pirating games, despite what Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo would have you believe.

And I would point out that pirated games are ALWAYS an afterthought, if even that, for the console hackers with the ability to get stuff done. The PS3 is a perfect example of this. The people wanting to pirate games tried for years with no success to hack it while the people wanting to run Linux were perfectly happy with the other OS. GeoHotz's initial hack that caused Sony to pull the OtherOS was just about allowing Linux to fully utilize the hardware and couldn't have been used for piracy, so don't even go there (I know several of you were thinking it). Sony takes Linux on the PS3 away from us and low and behold less than a year later (and after several hacks to put Linux back) we are seeing pirated games (I predicted that the day they pulled OtherOS by the way.)

The progression of hacks is always the same. The guys wanting to run Linux on the console figure out a way to do it. Then the guys wanting to run homebrew take the Linux guys' work and tweak it to run homebrew. Finally, someone will take the homebrew tweak and use it to code a loader. The point is this: the pirates don't have the skill to do shit if you let the Linux guys do what they want without hacking the console.

Basically, Sony brought the whole mess on themselves and doesn't seem to know how to stop digging.

Consumer rights? Hell yes I have the right to modify hardware I own if I'm not using it to break any laws (which most people who hack their consoles aren't). Homebrew? Hell, homebrew HELPS console makers, or rather it would if they would just take their collective head out of their collective ass and work with the homebrewers instead of suing them.

They are (gasp) software developers. That's right, just like the software developers you're so quick to defend, only with less time and money to put into developing their product and a willingness to give it away for free. Some do it for the love of the process, some do it to put something on their resume, some even do it just because they can, but they are developers just as much as EA or Ubisoft are. Are they any less deserving of protection just because they don't have hundreds of thousands of man-hours to put into developing a high end game? And these are the people Sony is attacking. Not the pirates. If they were attacking pirates they'd be suing the people who wrote backup loaders, not the people who made it possible to run homebrew.

Not that any of you "All homebrewers are pirates" people will even bother considering any of this. You're too busy believing everything the console makers tell you.

</rant>

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Unhappy

OtherOS

"Infact, there is absolutely nothing that's legal and wothwhile for a hacked PS3. There are some illegal emulators and illegal piracy, and that's it...."

... and running Linux. In fact, that "running Linux" bit is the one that pushed all those hackers into breaking the PS3's security model in the first place. Of course, the real pirates just waited until the legit hackers cracked open the thing, then just took the "last mile" effort to enable piracy on the PS3.

Really, Sony should simply re-enable OtherOS and be done with it. It isn't worth the never-ending uphill battle. Ironically, they had realized this when the PS3 launched; they gave all the stuff that other consoles are usually hacked for:

- Streaming

- No region locked games

- Linux

So yes ... up 'till April 1, 2010 the only reason to hack a PS3 was piracy. Not anymore.

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Vic
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Too late...

> Sony can claim tons of money from US and EU because the console is also a computer?!

They already did.

Sony originally described the PS3 as a computer, rather than a games console, to get a lower import duty. It is generally believed - although not proven, of course - that OtherOS was simply a tax dodge.

As Sony are now claiming that OtherOS was never a core part of the machine's operation, we have to wonder whether the EU and the US will suddenly start claiming unpaid import duty from Sony...

Vic.

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...and yet, ironically OtherOS capability was removed in response to GeoHots original hack

It's utterly wrong to suggest that GeoHot hacked the PS3 to restore OtherOS. OtherOS was in place and not a problem until the little guttersnipe broke into the hypervisor and demonstrated the ability to control the system. In other words, it's his own fraking fault that OtherOS was removed in the first place. So how in hell does he have the gall to claim his hacking activities are purely to restore OtherOS as if Sony didn't remove it in response to his earlier action. I mean come on, he's responsible for OtherOS being removed from the Phat systems. OtherOS was always going to be absent from the Slim because of cost issues, but the OtherOS already on the PS3 Phat was already bought and paid for in the sense that Sony had already paid for it's inclusion in those systems.

The only reason to remove OtherOS from existing systems was the security breech caused by GeoHot. Removing OtherOS from existing PS3s didn't save Sony a single penny. Yes, omitting it from the Slim model was a cost saving, but removing it from the Phat systems was absolutely not cost related.

Yet now we're supposed to believe this little egomaniac and the internet army of followers he has that actually the evil Sony removed OtherOS in a unilateral action using a mandatory update that forced OtherOS out. When in fact the update was optional and required the user to confirm twice that it should install and remove OtherOS capability. In fact the removal of OtherOS from existing systems that already had the capability was a security measure, not a cost cutting measure. In fact it's removal was 100% attributable to GeoHots hack. So the truth of this matter is that Hotz' claim that he's only doing all this to restore OtherOS is bogus in the extreme since he caused it's removal and clearly was hacking the PS3 before OtherOS had been removed.

People accuse Sony of lying and all sorts of crap, and yet no one will talk about the complete lies coming out of the various hackers mouths.

Whatever.

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Vic
Silver badge

Is that so?

> the PS3 is locked up again.

Really?

All the info I've read says that you can't replace metldr without disabling all the software in circulation, since that is the key with which it is all signed.

And if you don't replace that key, then the root is live.

Vic.

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Vic
Silver badge

Corrections...

> The only reason to remove OtherOS from existing systems was the

> security breech caused by GeoHot.

Hotz didn't cause a security breach. He discovered one. Sony caused it.

> Removing OtherOS from existing PS3s didn't save Sony a single penny.

Incorrect. It saved Sony a packet. They dramatically reduced the number of possible configurations they had to test for when rolling out new code. That's a substantial saving[1].

> the update was optional

Not that optional. You had the choice of losing OtherOS functionality, or losing much of the gaming capabilities of the unit. That's Hobson's choice; giving someone the choice between losing his fingers or losing his toes doesn't mean that he volunteered to have his digits cut off.

Vic.

[1] As a former Sony employee, I can attest to the huge amount of politics and management bullshit that goes on around software releases. Dropping some code makes a big difference to the bottom line.

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Anonymous Coward

This is not why I and many others sent you the $10,000 Mr Hotz

You were supposed to get a judgement that all this was OK.

I know that would never have happened, because Sony would have dropped the case like a red-hot potato the moment it looked like that might happen....

Oh well.

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This is not... no but would you spend your life in court?

its a sad day but it aint Hotz's fault - and as you rightly pointed out the red-hot potato would have been hurled as far into dark depths of neverhappendland as possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh absolutely

A definitive win for consumer rights was probably out of the question, yes.

It's a shame but I do have the utmost sympathy for the young guy. Risking a big loss and years of court cases would not be my idea of fun either. And as much as the community was eager to help out with his legal costs, a judgement for 10 or 100 times that amount would have left him feeling very lonely as the community protested poverty whilst saying they never actually asked him to do that so they don't feel it's their responsibility....

Yeah, just a pity, once again, that reality gets in the way of a minor improvement in rights for th elittle guy.

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It's a bit of a sell-out really

What made George buckle? I guess as part of the "agreement", we'll never know.....

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Anonymous Coward

"unauthorised"

To my knowledge, there are no laws against producing unauthorised accessories. Only if they themselves break a law (Like the DMCA or similar, or being branded as authentic sony products). Still, I guess they are desperate for GeoHot to just go away, the bad publicity this has generated is quite incredible.

Microsoft have taken a different approach, and one which may yet pay dividends (much to my mates annoyance....He may actually have to buy a game when the new dashboard kicks in).

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Silver badge

MS have taken a different approach?

MS & Nintendo pursue pirates and modders as aggressively as Sony. They just don't get the bad press despite doing the exact same things. MS sues modchip importers, it even launches criminal charges against them if it can. And of course it permanently bans XBL users by checking their consoles for mods. You can bet if someone produced a software exploit and bragged about it they'd come down on them like a bag of hammers too.

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Gold badge

No modchip required

Yes, but no mod chip was needed for the PS3. GeoHot found flaws in the DRM engine and completely rendered it useless.

The "modchip" in this case would be a software tool, much like DeCSS was for DVD copy protection. So all Sony could do is go after the creator.

Sony have no chance of fixing this without breaking backward compatibility?

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FAIL

Mod chips....

Would qualify as illegal accessories (as per my post).

I didnt say MS didnt prosecute, they just dont subpoena my IP address for looking at a perfectly legal website like Sony have chosen to do. GeoHot's site shows people all sorts of things (including the now legal iPhone jailbreaking). We know why they said they did it, but I don't like their attitude, as is my right.

I don't love MS, nintendo dont bother me, but Sony have lost out. I will never again go near one of their products.

PS, Sony were more than happy to sell blank tapes and CDs, so they could have been said to be assisting people to pirate for many years. Still

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Anonymous Coward

Not just blank tapes etc..

Sony used to run *huge* billboard ads advocating downloading music off the 'net to their MP3/Whatever proprietary format music players before there were widespread legal download services IIRC.

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Happy

Well...

Does it stop him sitting next to someone else who is doing the work?

"George, what about if I do this, would that work?"

"Hmmm, maybe..."

"OK George, what about this?"

"Well, it would give an interesting result!"

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true and..

It's not exactly hard to post source code anonymously onto the internet, either.

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Yes. Yes it does in some ways...

And puts instant award of damages on George if he is in breach...

Have a read of the judgement (if genuine)...

http://psx-scene.com/forums/attachments/f6/26802-settlement-george-hotz-case-127-stipulation.pdf

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Alert

You bet your life.

> it's not exactly hard to post source code anonymously onto the internet, either.

and if you are not as "anonymous" as you think you are, a throughly pissed-off federal court judge is going to make you wish you've never been born.

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Interesting...

Hotz can not have "unauthorized access to any Sony product”.

Huh.

So if you in the 'I bought it, I own it and can fuck with the software too' camp, simply purchasing the console gives you that authorization, no?

Unless the want to ban him owning anything Sony but I'm pretty sure they can not do that.

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Terminator

Well, Sony may have won the battle...

But the war has just begun. You know Anon will never let them go that easily.

ROTM. Because it's going to get ugly.

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Big Brother

Sony/Microsoft et al. haven't won this war

The war for freedom of programming speech goes on. George's case could have been strung out at considerable expense involving contributions via the EFF, but he's only 21 FFS, and some of George's actions were a little rash, to say the least, making these actions somewhat more difficult to defend in practice even if he was fully correct in principle. Maybe George was rightly persuaded by his lawyers that he's better off being able to continue hacking rather than being locked up like a martyr over a case where some of the principles at stake were not optimally arranged, due to the relative naivity of his prior actions in taking on Sony without using appropriate layers of anonymity or from within a country with better laws such as Jon Johansen's Norway.

There have to be better ways for a hopefully now somewhat wiser hacker to release keys and programming information for hacked consoles than to have this so personally attributable to a website run in a country with dictatorial DMCA laws which can evidently result in the gagging and locking up of dissidents.

It's also better for PR reasons, for political/legal cases like George's to be funded by activists within the country whose bad laws are being challenged in preference to through foreign money, so I didn't donate to this one. If a similar case had been in the UK (e.g. over RIPA forced key disclosure) and I'd donated to such a defence, then I'd only do so on the basis that the lawyers have to act in the best interests of the individual being defended, in preference to the longer term precedents set by the case. For a lawyer to act otherwise would bring their professional ethics into question in any situation.

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Grenade

In which Mr Hotz learns...

that it's a big world out there full of big, mean critters that don't think console modding is impressive or cool when it means that they lose money.

It seems points of principle are not *really* worth fighting for if the opponent has big sharp teeth. And lots of scary lawyers.

Anyone who is offended by Sony's way of doing business should just stop buying their products. If the rest of the world doesn't agree with you then so what?

Anyone whining about consumer choice as a cover for the fact that they can no longer pirate games then go ahead but don't tell yourselves that you really do have right on your side.

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Silver badge

Misread the title there for a second

Thought it said "Sony buries hatchet in GeoHot in PS3 modding case."

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Lesson's learned?

I'd say the Lesson to be learned here is, if you are a hacker and especially of you plan on hacking the PS3. Don't be a glory whore and publish details on websites that make it easy for Sony to find your real identity (IE ones based in America). There is no reason why you can't publish your hacks on some of the Anon chan boards from behind a proxy such as TOR so that Sony will have an exteremely difficult time finding out who you are and getting your info taken down.

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FAIL

What I'd do now ...

is f**k off out of the US, and start again. It's all very well vilifying Sony, but isn't the elephant in the room the legislation which let them do this ?

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MJI
Silver badge

At least it has finished for now.

I was pleased to see no requests for damages.

But does anyone think may be Sony might want to employ him?

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Sony didn't want this in court

There was a very good chance that it would have gone the same way that Apple vs the jailbreakers went and a judge declared it legal to modify your own legally purchased hardware as long as it is for personal and legal use. He may have got in trouble for releasing the information that allows the playing of pirate games but the act of modifying would have been declared legal as that is a totally separate issue. As it now stands it remains a grey area that allows the big corps to still use the threat of going to court to try to put people off tinkering with their products.

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FAIL

Nonsense.

"There was a very good chance that it would have gone the same way that Apple vs the jailbreakers went"

You might want to get a clue and actually read the judgement on the Apple case, it doesn't allow people to Jailbreak.

Just because you read something on the internet once, does not make it true.

Page 6:

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/07/dmcaexemps.pdf

"Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone

handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when

circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a

wireless telephone communication network."

Tell me how this applies to Sony and Geohot releasing the encryption keys on the internet to people can play pirate games?

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idiot

read my post again

IF 'a judge declared it legal to modify your own legally purchased hardware as long as it is for personal and legal use'

compared to

'circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a

wireless telephone communication network'

Same principle, different hardware and yes that is a legal declaration saying it is ok to jailbreak FOR LAWFUL PURPOSES

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Vic
Silver badge

Some sense,,,

> read the judgement on the Apple case, it doesn't allow people to Jailbreak.

It most certainly *does* permit jailbreaking. Phones are singled out in classes B and C, but class D would explicitly permit jailbreaking a gaming machine.

However, the provisos in that class *may* preclude publicising the work in the way that Hotz did; you'd have to get a court to try that to find out for sure.

Vic.

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Boffin

This is all very interesting.

I have two pertinent questions, however, that I don't think has been answered.

Has the release of this key actually led to any pirating of games on the PS3?

Does this key allow people to access the PSN from their own modified code?

As far as I am aware, it hasn't and it doesn't; it has only been used to allow people access to the hardware to e.g. run OtherOS which Sony removed, or to run their own homebrewed code. If this is the case (and I concede that I may me wron in my understanding of this matter), then the 'harm' that Sony has suffered is purely hypothetical. The cost of any such hypothetical harm is zero.

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Coat

Re: This is all very interesting.

I don't know if it is this key or the key released by the other group. But the answer to your 1st question is yes, and to the 2nd is yes until Sony released an update that changed the key and rendered it useless (for future games). You can still find some of the older game images of the PS3 floating around news groups and torrent sites.

you see, what happened is that someone made a homebrew application which is basically an image loader. At first the image loader required that the original disc be in the bay for the game to load. But as it turned out, many people had a damaged bay that can't read discs any more (shocking, I know). So a new version of the image loader was released to no longer required the disc check and would work fully with a game image on the harddisk.

The key itself is harmless, homebrew is harmless, the problem is with the homebrew that worked as an image loader. Such homebrews is what give the other homebrews a really bad name and render the support to homebrew as a support to piracy!

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Boffin

Doesn't matter

Sony have lost my confidence. No money from me, knowingly, ever again. And I made sure to tell them right at the beginning of this crap.

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