Feeds

back to article Suit settled, PS3 hacker donates $10,000 to EFF

The hacker accused of violating US copyright law when he hacked the PlayStation 3 game console has donated $10,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation after Sony dropped the controversial lawsuit. George Hotz, aka GeoHot, announced the donation on Saturday, five days after he and Sony settled their legal tiff. Sony accused …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

hmmm...

So many questions...

One has to wonder why sony backed down so quickly from a fight they were fighting so fiercely?

Did something happen to make sony change their mind?

were they losing revenue because of the bad press?

did they realize that suing ones customers is a bad way of securing future sales?

I mean they serious they spent tens of thousands of dollars at the minimum to prosecute this this case, only to settle it for a $10k donation to the EFF, the organization that was helping push the defense...

7
0

law student here

It seems the focus of lawyers is on chasing suits they can profit from. A 21-year old student isn't going to have much money. A company, on the other hand, always has insurance...

2
0

Loser takes a fall

A large company only ever backs down when they know they're going to lose.

If they lose a case, that creates a precedent which means, at the very least, they'll have a harder time prosecuting the next victim they set their sights on. At worst, it could result in a new DMCA exemption, which would make it impossible for them to similarly threaten their customers in future.

Settle the case out of court, and no precedent gets set, so Sony are free to persecute other people in the future.

5
0

re : Wallyb132

Perhaps it is connected with the fact that they have had to close Sony stores yesterday

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2044343/sony-stores-closed-anonymous-protests-begin

0
1
Silver badge

Backed down?

It was a civil case. They got what they wanted and sent out a message that they'll sue people for publishing circumventions to their copy protection mechanisms.

1
2

Probably everything you said...

but I also suspect that Sony didn't want to take the chance of actually losing and setting a precedent in the courts!

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

Re: hmmm...

> One has to wonder why sony backed down so quickly from a fight they were fighting so fiercely?

Given the discrepancies between their pleadings to the court in this case, and their pleadings in the class-action suit, there is a strong chance that they would have been caught in a lie to the court. That's not a good way to go about winning.

The case they had presented - essentially claiming Hotz was subject to a legal agreement just because they found a username somewhat like him in their database - was always pretty weak. The judge gave them all sorts of latitude in discovery because they said it was imnportant; had the case come to trial and their discovery proved nothing, they would have been in for a serious judicial backlash. Judges don't like plaintiffs bending the truth.

It looks like Sony lawyers finally realised they were going to lose.

> only to settle it for a $10k donation to the EFF

Sony didn't settle for a $10K donation. They settled for a promise from Hotz not to tell the world the next time they did something hopeless on the security front.

The donation was Hotz's idea, to show that he wouldn't be benefiting from the legal fund donations should his legal costs not be that high in the end.

Vic.

5
0

Probably most of the above...

Bad press, customers leaving... I won't even watch any movie or play a game anyway related to Sony now.

By the way, I think you got it wrong about the 10k donation to the EFF. Geohot voluntarily did that (kudos to him).

3
0
Silver badge

well

perhaps the fact that sony released information themselves whilst the case was ongoing pretty much sank their own argument. They would have had no choice but to settle else they would lose AND have set precident against themselves and other consoles for the future.

As things stand PS3 can probably be hacked by someone else using the same defence but future PS4 would have no precident set in court etc (unless sony screw up and release methods again).

1
0
Silver badge

Easy answer

That kind of PR is bad and it was killing them, but they needed to control Hotz to protect their various licensing agreements.

Probably the thought that they could get themselves out of the spotlight for a while.

Almost certainly (at least the the geek and nerd market segment).

The donation did not form part of the settlement. Think. Why would a corporation like Sony (lover of rootkits) want to help the EFF? They wouldn't. It was Mr. Hotz who gave the money away as this is what he had promised.

I think Hotz had it pretty much right - free speech has been cut in the USA to appease corporate interests. And one more thing:

DO NOT BUY SONY!

5
0

From what i have seen...

In the case where there being sued by lots of irate owners, they are claiming that they are not in any way responsible for the software, not our fault guv, cant sue us.

However, in GeoHot's case, they were claiming absolute right to sue over DMCA violations.

It would have taken quite a bit to reconcile those two positions and not be in contempt in one court or the other, so they bullied him into accepting a settlement. Probably because they could still easilly and cheaply shut him up, whereas if they lost the other one, there potentially liable for millions.

5
0

What do you mean backed down?

This was the best result they could have hoped for. Hotz is by his own agreement enjoined from hacking Sony products - forever. Sony gave up nothing, and gained the only thing they could hopt to have got from Hotz since money was never going to be the issue, you can't get blood from a stone. Even Hotz lawyer was unequivocal about their defeat.

Sony wasn't the one that backed down my friend, that would be ego-manchild Hotz who has wasted no time in making yet more public noise.

1
12

Not even $10,000

I doubt the $10,000 would have been part of the deal with Sony, that would have been the money left over from donations which Geohotz always said would be donated to the EFF if not used.

So Sony can't even claim they cost him $10,000, and if he has that much to spare to donate it suggests they didn't even get enough money awarded to hit his own pocket, just that of the donation fund.

2
0
Stop

Neither party "lost" this case...

I'm pretty sure the bad PR and attentions of hacker collectives like Anonymous was part of the reason for Sony's decision to settle this case now, but they hardly "lost" the case.

What was the point in suing GeoHot? It was never going to be to get damages - money - out of him, was it? Hotz might have had $10K to dontate at the end of it, but that's a drop in the ocean for Sony and would easily have been swallowed up (and then some) by lawyers' fees if this had gone to trial. If Sony had pursued this all the way, they might have won some hollow moral victory, but they'd have been left with a massive legal bill and costs they had no chance of recovering from the defendant.

No, Sony got what they really wanted - for Hotz will stop meddling in the PS3 and other Sony products (with an injunction and the threat of further court action if he doesn't) and a clear message has been sent to other potential hackers that they risk Sony's wrath if they try to follow in his footsteps.

Sony wins all that and limits any further PR damage for no further costs. Hotz only really wins the removal of the threat of the ongoing law suit which could - could - have bankrupted him.

Neither side really won or lost overall. If anything, the biggest losers are the lawyers who don't get to charge a big fat fee. And that, surely, is a win (of sorts) for everyone?

0
0
Silver badge

@Hooch181

Sony wouldn't have lost. Geohot's actions were clearly violations of the DMCA. On the other hand it would be enormously expensive to take to trial, attract more bad publicity while in progress and Geohot wouldn't have been able to pay any fine any way. By settling both sides walk away from this thing right now. Biggest risk for Geohot is he runs his mouth off counter ito the settlement and finds himself at risk of summary judgement.

0
7

Never claimed...

they would have lost friend...

But if they did, they would have set a precedent. Under those circumstances I can understand why they didn't take the chance!

0
0
Bronze badge
Coat

How does that work?

How can you win a "hollow moral victory" if you don't have any morals to start with?

0
0
FAIL

LOL

They didn't close for the day, they took the picture after the store had closed for the day before the centre shut...

Idiots....

0
0
PT

@DrXym

"Geohot's actions were clearly violations of the DMCA."

Perhaps so. But no DMCA violation has ever made its way through the system to the court of ultimate appeal, at which point it would risk being found unconstitutional and struck down. Cynical observers might view that as a more likely reason why Sony settled.

0
0
Grenade

This is what I don't get...

It's OK for Sony give us the root kit v1, yet they use the courts to bully purchasers and legal owners of their goods? How many countless lost billions, if not trillions of dollars could be traced back to the Sony corporation, and the consulting firm they used to deploy root kit technology, yet Sony legal gets its collective panties in a wad because someone thinks of an innovative way to utilize technology for tasks other than its originally designed intent.

It's days like this I with the Register had an obscene hand gesture icon to show the good folks at Sony.

12
0
Bronze badge
Grenade

questionable legality of Sony rootkit v1

As I understand this, due to the possibility of their infected CDs still being in circulation, their rootkit could still get Sony UK executives who commissioned the development of this trojan and authorised its distribution into hot water. For this to occur, someone would have to play a legally obtained and infected CD not knowing it was infected and this would have to modify their computer without their consent or authorisation. This, as I understand it, would be evidence of an offence carried out by those within Sony UK who decided to install this trojan on their computer through this route.

A complaint leading to a public or private prosecution would have to come from an individual whose PC had been illegally modified, which is a Computer Misuse Act offence under section 3 (unauthorised modification). The complainant would have to own the PC and must not know in advance that the infection would occur. Possibly the reason no such complaint has yet occurred may be due to the ignorance of the law and of computer security amongst those likely to have been infected by this. Users of the operating system vulnerable to this infection tend to have little knowledge of computer misuse law or not to understand reasons for their computers becoming infected.

0
0
WTF?

2 short planks...

"How many countless lost billions, if not trillions of dollars could be traced back to the Sony corporation, and the consulting firm they used to deploy root kit technology"

- it's a bit early to be smoking what i think you must be smoking.... Trillions "traced back" to the Sony corporation, indeed.... Plz explain or GTFO

0
2

re: zen1

'innovative way to utilize technology for tasks other than its originally designed intent'

Actually all the guy was doing was re-enabling a feature that the original PS3 was designed for...

2
0
Silver badge

Correct

Sony has lots of money, so Sony can buy the decision they want. (Technically it was BMG with the rootkits, but they are owned by Sony; so Sony can still be help accountable).

Probably not much - what kind of pillock puts a music disc (it's not a CD as it did not conform to the standard) into the drive of a server or anything else important? It would have been home machines that got attack by the rootkit. Although that does not make it any more acceptable.

Yup. If people were using the mod illegally they should have gone after those people. Next: everyone with a crowbar to be arrested as a burglar. Everyone with a knife to be arrested as a murderer. Everyone with a....and so on.

It's not the tool (be it physical or electronic), it's the use that tool is put to.

1
1
Silver badge

Erk

Talk about a non sequitur. A few years ago Sony releases a rootkit (and subsequently settled a class action lawsuit over such), and now they can't sue someone else over a totally unrelated matter?

0
0
FAIL

epic fail

you post is epic fail is every respect.

I severely doubt you were personally affected by the "rootkit" (which wasn't really a rootkit), as it affected so few people. Or are you a Celene Dion fan?

They weren't preventing hackers doing innovative things, they were suing GeoHot for maliciously posting the keys online, as he knew they were once the keys to piracy.

Contrary to what some still believe, the PS3 is now permanently locked down again, which is why the pikey pirates are all crying and upset again. Anyone got a pacifier?

1
9
FAIL

Re: epic fail

"he knew they were once the keys to piracy"

Did they open the entrance to the secret pirate cave in the Caribbean and Long John Silver's underwear drawer?

"FAIL" because it's your best friend?

1
0
Unhappy

It was a rootkit.

It patched the OS so as to conceal the files containing the payload code. That's what rootkits do, hence the name.

0
0

re: paul

I don't think trillions is out of the question, considering the saturation of PC's in almost every country. And given that Sony didn't necessarily create the concept of root kit technology, they are responsible for making it mainstream. And you know how kiddies love to copy/mod other peoples warez. Now, if you were to assign a low ball, arbitrary value of say $25.00 USD to remediate every infected machine that was directly or indirectly nailed courtesy of Sony, the price tag can get pretty hefty.

If you look at all of the secondary and tertiary costs associated, for example, the number of governmental or business machines that were infected, simply because people brought a music cd in from home to listen to. It's rather difficult to quantify the total financial impact, because we will really never know the full extent of the impact, just because of Sony's base stupidity.

0
0

Whoops

Missed this bit:

"they are responsible for making it mainstream"

In fairness as well, rootkit style infections have been around since the late eighties. It's called a rootkit because it granted root access to early Unix-like systems. Windows NT received it's first rootkit in 1999, 6 years before Sony released their nefarious version. SecuROM uses rootkit techniques to hide bits of itself to this day, and if you're played a modern game the chances of it being on your system are pretty high.

I'm all for bashing Sony for being evil monopolistic bastards. Let's try and keep it true at least though - It somewhat waters down the argument otherwise.

0
0
Boffin

I'm REALLY not trying to back up Sony here...

And 1 PC is 1 PC too many, but those numbers are ridiculous!

$1,000,000,000,000 / $25 = 40,000,000,000.

You really think *40 billion PCs* were affected to the point of having to be recovered for money by the fsking Sony root kit?

Now admittedly you mention secondary or tertiary costs, but even if we assume these unnamed costs run some $2,500 per instance, you still think 400,000,000 PCs? And that's assuming 400 million people (6-7 times the entire population of the UK) would somehow spend $2,500 removing a piece of software from their PCs. And this is going for the lowest possible trillion - you said trillion*s*, which is even more silly.

Sorry, just no - you're overestimated by many 100s of thousands of times. It MIGHT have cost a few million, at most, worldwide.

Still, it is officially "bang out of order" - not trying to defend it. Sony should have clearly paid dearly for such an arrogant action, and as far as I hear, did, to some degree at least. Let's not get too carried away with these figures though, eh?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

'to run homebrew games'

At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and start being DMCA violation?

5
0
Thumb Down

They're ...

... one and the same thing. The PS3 isn't exempt under copyright law.

0
0

At a guess

Round about the same time that Ford started sueing car owners for allowing their vehicles to be used in abetting a crime.

0
0

DMCA violation ahoy!

AFAICT, jailbreaking, by its nature, involves violating the DMCA.

Except for smartphones, because the lawmakers think they're somehow special.

0
0

IANAL

But I believe in Sony's eyes, Jailbreaking = DMCA violation.

Sadly they also have the enormous funds and legal teams to back up their world view.

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

DMCA

> At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and

> start being DMCA violation?

There is no evidence it ever did.

Sony *claimed* this was a DMCA violation. That charge was not proven - and never will be, since the case has been dropped.

Vic.

2
0

When he published the secret encryption key and showed other show to circumvent the copy protection

That and distributing custom firmware which on the PS3 must, by definition, include some of Sony's code which is a direct copyright violation regardless.

The problem I have with the EFF, is that this isn't about hardware, it's about software. The firmware in the PS3 is covered by a well written license that Hotz ignored. No one said he couldn't mess with the hardware, that was never the issue.

1
2
Silver badge
Grenade

When he

When he puts up a page saying "use this code to play your pirated games," and not a moment before.

He has said it's to allow running of homebrew software and it can be used to that effect. Sony has recently taken efforts to eliminate homebrew software (by the removal of the "Other OS" option), therefore, general presumption of innocence not withstanding, I have every reason to believe him.

Maybe we should force makers of movie cameras out of business because people sneak them into theaters?

4
0
Silver badge

Re: 'to run homebrew games'

At what point does doing what GeoHot did stop being 'jailbreaking' and start being DMCA violation?

That's an easy one. It's when Sony says it is.

0
0

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

The point at which they charge him, I suppose.

The problem with his settling out of court is that nothing gets tested in the public eye, which is a shame. Hardly unexpected though.

0
0
Silver badge

As soon as he started releasing code & keys

The DMCA provides exemptions for academic & fair use and other explicit cases where circumvention of content protection is allowed / defensible. These do not include releasing a bunch of code & keys and bragging about it. Doing so meant Sony could easily and truthfully say he was facilitating unauthorized access to copy protected content. Because he was.

It's his own fault for being such a big mouth. Ed Felten has disclosed a pile of stuff under academic freedoms protected by the DMCA. He was even involved in the Sony "rootkit" fiasco.

0
4
Silver badge

Sir @ Highlander

"That and distributing custom firmware which on the PS3 must, by definition, include some of Sony's code which is a direct copyright violation regardless."

So many absolutes with not an inch of wriggle room. Bold statements - please refer us to the dictionary 'definition' that logically means distributing custom firmware is copyright violation, thx.

1
0

Geohtz Firmware

Hotz did not distribute any sony code. He released a patch so the user had to get an original firmware and patch it. So no to direct copyright violation.

1
0
Silver badge

@King Jack

He released the PS3 root key. He certainly facilitated circumvention of copy protection in the device and this was what he was taken to court over. The DMCA supported Sony's complaint and they would have won. I think it's quite obvious why they didn't take it all the way and it has nothing to do with the fear of losing and more for wishing to close the book on the case which has become a lightning rod.

0
1
Vic
Silver badge

Errr...

> this was what he was taken to court over

He wasn't taken to court. The case didn't make it that far. It went little further than discovery.

Given the posturing that Sony were doing beforehand, one can only assume that discovery didn't show up as much as they thought they'd find...

> The DMCA supported Sony's complaint

That is unproven. It might well[1] be false - but we'll never know now.

> wishing to close the book on the case which has become a lightning rod.

Prior to discovery, they did not want to close the case - they told the judge how important it was to get access to all of Hotz's machines and to go through them. They also told the judge how important it was for this case to be tried, as it was costing them significantly.

The fact that they dropped the case after discovery would indicate that they over-stated its importance when talking to the Judge. That probably wasn't a bright move.

Vic.

[1] For one thing, it is very likely that SCEA were not the rights holder - so even if anything actionable under the DMCA had occurred, it is unlikely to be SCEA that could have taken that action.

0
0

No, they were in court, that's why there's a permanent order against Hotz

The court was hearing motions regarding jurisdiction and discovery related to that to determine whether the case in full would be heard in California or not. The very fact that the case had not been dismissed and was proceeding in that manner means that they were very much in court, otherwise there would not be a permanent court order against Hotz hacking Sony products.

Regarding 'by definition', I should have chosen a better phrase, but did not. The point I was making was that whether he distributed a patch or not, it had to contain at least some copyrighted Sony code or other material in order to get the PS3 to load it.

Not only that but since OtherOS and homebrew had already been enabled in 3.55 and earlier by previous efforts of others, obtaining and publishing the metldr key served no purpose other than to boost Hotz ego, tweak Sony's nose further and make game piracy possible (at the time) despite Sony being able to change the private signing key. There was no need for the metldr key to be obtained or published to enable OtherOS or Homebrew, Hotz is a liar.

0
0
Vic
Silver badge

The permanent order was stipulated

> The court was hearing motions regarding jurisdiction

And that's all it was hearing - whether or not it was the right court to try the case.

The actual case had not made it to court, because it had not yet been decided which state would hear it.

> otherwise there would not be a permanent court order

Not so. Both parties stipulated to the order.

> it had to contain at least some copyrighted Sony code

That's not true either. A patch could exist which consisted entirely of Hotz's code. It wouldn't have made much sense until applied to Sony's code - but that's irrelevant, it still would have been his alone, and his copyright.

> Hotz is a liar.

Hotz said many things which proved to be true. You've said many thing which are clearly not. I'm afraid I'm not prepared to take your word for it that he is a liar.

Vic.

0
0
WTF?

Morons

Who the hell are these morons who think they have the right to hack into someone elses product. Lets get something straight here. When the PS3 got hacked, people started ripping games to the HDD, copying games, and it totally messed up online play, as anyone who tried to play COD will tell you. This Holt guy is just a complete prat and I hope this action Sony threatened him with will be a warning to others.

Just because you buy a product, it does not mean you have the express rights to start altering it in any way you feel fit. The company still owns the design and code.

As for donating money to a organisation against the Anti Piracy teams, well, that says it all really doesnt it.

2
28
Thumb Down

@Gary Holcombe

"Who the hell are these morons who think they have the right to hack into someone elses product."

You mean he stole the physical device he hacked into as well. Now that is bad.

4
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.