back to article Court orders seizure of PS3 hacker's computers

A federal judge ordered prolific hacker Geohot to turn over his computers and hard drives and to stop publishing the tools used to root Sony's PlayStation 3 after finding his hack was likely a violation of US copyright law. The temporary restraining order was issued on Thursday by US District Judge Susan Illston of San …


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  1. Shaun Hunter

    Possession is 9/10 of the law,

    I guess this judge and Sony's lawyers missed the first day of law school. You Buy it it's yours. So now will I get sued if I don't use Chevy brand oil in my car?

    Wait I'm in Canada, nevermind. I'm going to go download some pirated stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You buy the hardware, but the software loaded onto the system is the possession of Sony. Don't you read the terms and conditions of sale?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        an invalid consumer contract clause can not be deemed enforceable

        "Don't you read the terms and conditions of sale?"

        you may or not have read said contract , however in law an invalid consumer contract clause can not be deemed enforceable, end of story.

    2. Tom 13

      Nope. You shouldn't have dropped the class after the introductory session.

      The hardware may be yours to do with as you please, and that part of DCMA has never and likely never will be tested. The violation is that he PUBLISHED the results of what he did with his hardware and INCITED other to do likewise. This is what DCMA prohibits because it defrauds the COPYRIGHT holders of the software sold for the device.

      You don't have to like it, but you do have to understand it.

      1. fLaMePrOoF


        Sadly true

        The DMCA is an evil and despicable peice of legislation.

      2. Steven Hunter


        I don't believe he incited (encouraged) anyone to violate copyright but rather provided a mechanism which would allow them to do it but which has a fully legitimate use (running Linux and/or home-brew games) which is perfectly legal.

        I believe there's some case law on this matter, "Sony Corporation of America v. Universal Studios." Funny that...

        1. Adam Foxton

          "which has a fully legitimate use... which is perfectly legal."

          ... and which was a feature of the console before Sony decided to remove it. You know, so the tools can be used to take the product back up to the function level it was at when originally launched (and for the first few years of it being on the market).

          Couldn't it also be used to allow users to play PS2 and PS1 games on their PS3 as well (now that Sony's gotten rid of that feature from their console, again a launch-date feature)?

          This sort of thing has got to be legal, surely?

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Jail breaking officially granted DMCA exemption ...

        so when you say " that part of DCMA has never and likely never will be tested" what you really mean is no DCMA lawyer in their right mind (is there such a thing?) would allow this to be tested in court as the existing Jail breaking exemption already exists (Jail breaking officially granted DMCA exemption | Phones | iOS ...) and so they automatic loose under existing common law rules.

        "The violation is that he PUBLISHED the results of what he did with his hardware and INCITED other to do likewise."

        NO , that is your perception of the case put forward, it wrong as you conveniently Omit the vital parts required to reach never mind prove such a legal conclusion.

        "This is what DCMA prohibits because it defrauds the COPYRIGHT holders of the software sold for the device."

        NO, again this is your personal perception, its wrong, it does not defraud, deprive or other wise the copyright holder of anything, the copyright holder has already been payed for the use of their copyright IF the Owner of the hardware wishes to use that copyright software.

        if the user and owner of the hardware device wishes to use another vendors software under another licence then they are free to do so.

        that users choice has nothing to to with the original copyright holder as if you want to try and tie software copyright to a peace of hardware as Sony did the moment they sold and advertised that device with Linux OS capability's then it's legally clear that part of the so called use of the original copyright has already been payed for by said user to use as required and as they see fit to re-instate that prior advertised functionality.

        as you say "You don't have to like it, but you do have to understand it" but you also need to put it in legal perspective not your personal perspective unless you can also show existing case law ?to back up your perception.

        and remember you cant cop out by using the mantra but the device consumer contract says this so it is so, Its Not so if that consumer contract is one sided and does not also allow the other party (the end user that buys the hardware) to also enforce their rights, its 'an invalid clause' not legally enforceable on a court of law.

  2. Pypes

    Hacking your own hardware

    Hacking hardware you own, and facilitating others to do the same = no more computers for you.

    And people say governments are in the pocket of corporate interests........

  3. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Stop publishing?

    I'd like to see how he stops publishing the tool given it's likely made its way around the World by now and is no doubt replicated on hundreds of websites after this announcement.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Stop publishing

      Presumably they also want him to stop publishing the encryption key. And also, presumably, all methods to obtain it, like publishing (key-1) and the instructions to add 1 and obtain the key, etc. etc.

  4. irish donkey

    Its not what you know

    Its how much money you can throw at something/somebody.

    Doesn't matter though still won't buy a PS3

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Your loss then.

      Enjoy your sub-par and overpriced gaming on other systems... Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      1. irish donkey

        Overpriced - Subpower???

        Since when did processing power equate to a good game?

        Most of the games released now take spade loads of processor for what is in essence a piss poor game as many of the people me included found when we bought COD. I could list many other games which required huge processors and again were shit games.

        It’s not the size of the ship but the motion of the ocean which makes the difference.

        Epic fail for the Sony employee's/apologists. Do you really believe your own hype?

        So who do these Sony apologists work for? I think we should know

  5. Rather Notsay

    And in other news,

    Levis are suing a number of famous rappers for wearing their jeans in a fashion that is not in keeping with their terms of service. A Levis representative today stated: "We know that these rappers encourage crime through their lyrics and to a lesser extent, fashion crimes through their improper use of our clothing. We are simply seeking to protect our intellectual from organised crime and terrorism." This latest lawsuit comes in the wake of the suit brought by General Motors against the infamous car hacker Xzibit. The hacker and his hacking ring known as "Pimp My Ride" and famous for the catch phrase "yo dawd", were ordered to pay $16 trillion dollars in damages to General Motors for hacking their automobiles to run unathorised programs such as "5p33d1|\|g" and the recently exploited "r4m r41d" that continue to endager lies and net millions for criminals world wide.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Pedantry ahead.

      "The hacker and his hacking ring known as "Pimp My Ride"

      Xzibit's "hacking ring" is called West Coast Customs, Pimp My Ride is the TV programme.

      1. TheRobster Silver badge

        Get with the times...

        West Coast have not featured in Pimp My Ride for some time, they use Gas now.

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Oh yeah!


      Although I do find it hilarious watching 17 year-old fashion victims, the waist of their strides down near the end of the their arse-crack, struggling and waddling like penguins up flights of stairs at the train stations!!

    3. MyHeadIsSpinning

      More pedantry

      "...our intellectual property"

      "yo dawg"

      endanger lives.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Her ruling didn't explain the change of heart."

    Several bags of cash I would guess.

  7. djwayne


    seems to me that this goes a bit far, my field is forensics and if we can't break systems we own to figure out what data is useful then we could all be in trouble. Sony seem to have dropped the ball here and are blaming everyone else for it, nothing new there. But using legislation designed to prevent copying to hide sloppy coding and security seems a bit lame. If you buy a piece of kit its yours whether you decide to use it to turn your lights on and off or take it apart to see how it works , you own it end of. The manufacturers rights should end at point of sale if they have made a cock up before you have bought it then it is their problem. But government will always back big business in these situatuions so i gues the true innovators who have broken the ps3 will get treated like criminals, which is horse shit in my opinion.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      It's property rights vs. copyrights.

      Sure, the PS3 is yours, but the code within isn't (that's only licensed, as is any form of software). The code (and that includes the secret keys) still belongs to Sony and, according to the suit, was never GeoHotz's to redistribute. It's a case of property rights butting right up against copyrights because a piece of copyrighted information is encapsulated in an object that can only be described as property. Given the implications, this case could go all the way to Washington (either to the Copyright Office or to the Supreme Court) so as to finally draw the line.

      1. Spotfist

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

        As in previouse posts regarding the automotive example, the same could be said about cars. Most cars (even older models) will have a form of "OS" this could also be said to be licensed out to the user including all the other bits that ford has had to licence out on your behalf to build the car. The difference being that changing your cars engine etc doesn't really effect Ford as they have made their money on the sale.

        Sony however rely on the sale of highly inflated game prices to cover the cost of a machine that is "too expensive to make a profit on", this isn't a surpise to Sony, the only surprise should be that it took this long to hack the machine! You don't see Ford producing a car that runs on gold and then complaining when people change it for a petrol engine!

        The games industry is slowly turning into that of the music industry, outdated sales model with no thought on the future, the xbox was hacked ages ago and I don't see a drop in games being made for that console... Offer people xbox live and perhaps introduce a "VIP" pass as EA have used and you're onto a winner, don't make your customers into criminals!!!

        1. Pawel 1

          Not true anymoreq

          according to various sources, Sony now makes a modest profit on hardware.

          Also, I thought price dumping is illegal (from the tax point of view)?

          1. Tom 13

            Price dumping is when one competitor intentionally sells their product

            at a loss to drive other money making competitors out of business. According to popular sentiment, none of the game console manufacturers sell their console at a profit, so no money making competitors are driven from business. Also none of them have gone out of business or even suffered significant markets share loss as a result of pricing behavior.

            This is what is known in the industry as a loss leader. Loss leaders are particularly common practice for things like grocery stores or supermarkets where the retailer voluntarily takes a loss on a couple of sale items in the store hoping to draw in customers and make up for that loss by the volume of other sales they make when the customer stops in for the special sale item. A prime example of this in the US would be the sale on turkeys around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      2. Matthew Collier

        Sony might like to think they have licenced the code to you...

        ...but in the UK, at least, this is not part of the contract of sale, so is not enforcable. IANAL (obviously ;) ), but IMO you own the whole caboodle!

        However, I'm sure they'll nab him in the US, if nothing else because, as I understand it, the DMCA has gotcha for even just *discussing* copy protection bypass mechanisms, which presumably, he is bang to rights!?

        His only chance, presumably, is the whole jurisdiction thing, but then, Sony could presumably just file a new action in the "correct" location, even if it isn't as Corporate Rights friendly, as I said, I suspect the DCMA's got him easily anyway...

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          Copyright, licenses & software

          IANAL, but as I understand it, copyright gives it's owner the right to control copying of works.

          One day, a hung-over (or still drunk) judge said that when software is executed, it is copied because it is "copied" from the storage to the processor for execution, and that the copyright owner can attach conditions to this copying to their heart's content.

          However when playing a record, no one comments about how the shape of the groove is "copied" as vibrations on a needle, currents in a wire, vibrations on a speaker cone and then compressions in the air. When I look at a banknote, a "copy" of the banknote exists on my retina, but I am not guilty of copying banknotes!

          WTF! Please can we undo this crap about running software is copying it, and therefore needs a special license.

          Copying software is copying software, and _should_ be punished. But people who have bought software should be allowed to use it.

          As for this case; if Sony / Apple sold a computer and put something in a place to stop people running _their own_ software on it, and someone works out how to do it, then tough for Sony / Apple. If instead Sony allowed people to run their own software, but the commercial games had to have a special key, then that's different.

          1. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Again though the problem is idiots

            Enough idiots will buy Sony, Apple, Nokia and other peoples products which come with these restrictions on their use, what you can and can't run on it, do with it and so forth.

            If those people were to say 'well I won't pay for something so restricted' then the manufacturers would remove the restrictions.

            For most people though it really doesn't matter, most don't try and do anything 'unusual' with their games console or mobile phone.

            1. sabroni Silver badge


              what a confused post! If it doesn't matter to most people then why are they idiots? Is it stupid to buy something that does what you need it to do?

              Maybe the idiots are the people who buy locked down equipment then moan that it's locked down?

              1. Anonymous Coward

                I'm almost tempted to thumbs-up this

                as I think the same thing (e.g. I don't like being locked down so I don't use an iPhone). BUT in this case I think you're wrong.

                The PS3 was sold as having features (like playing PS1 & PS2 games and the ability to run Linux). It was greatly anticipated by many in the tech community for the latter (a superfast cell processor tied in to a lightweight OS- with the ability to play proper games as well!) and by the general public for the former (yaay! I don't have to buy games immediately; my existing collection will work!)

                These features have been removed by Firmware update by Sony. When manufacturers start removing features from their products post-sale (and give you nothing in return), you _should_ moan. Doing something more substantial would be preferable, but that's easier with lots people banded together (which is only accomplished by moaning- establishing that you have a common grievance).

                If these hadn't been launch features (and a production feature for years) then they wouldn't be worth moaning about (case in point: Linux on the Xbox. It wasn't sold as doing it, so don't moan if it doesn't work). But as they were, it is.

          2. A J Stiles

            Yes, running requires copying, but .....

            ..... in the UK at least, making that copy is considered Fair Dealing. Otherwise, there would be no way you could use the product you own for its rightful purpose, and you would have redress against the retailer under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 As Amended (Goods not fit for purpose).

            Locking-out third party developers as Sony do will in all probability be found to illegal in mainland Europe (where DVD players now have to be multi-region by law) if and when tested in the courts.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Something needs to have creative input to be subject to copyright.

        Therefore, a private key isn't copyrightable (as it's essentially a random number).

        The problem is, DMCA makes it a crime to distribute any info that can help break the copyright protection mechanisms, which is the essence of this lawsuit - he didn't break the copyright, he just created something that *may* be used for that.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Good post except for this bit:

        " as to finally draw the line."

        In recent years SCOTUS has rarely finally drawn the line, rather they have fuzzed the line in such a way as to invite further lawsuits, thus ensuring the full employment of the parasite class otherwise known as lawyers while the Copyright Office has shown themselves incapable of even fuzzing the line.

  8. kain preacher Silver badge

    I'm thinking

    Either she got paid off,blackmail or extortion .Either way look for a guy named Vinnie.

  9. Tempest

    Google comes to the rescue, again!

    Check: < >.

    This will no doubt be of interest to adventurous PS3 owners who are banging their heads on the bars.

    1. fLaMePrOoF

      Obligatory title

      LoL, Google had better watch out - maybe they will be next in line to be ordered to 'hand over all of their computers' for freely distributing this information against DMCA restrictions!

  10. tom dial Silver badge

    Never again

    I have a Sony home theater receiver, a 37 year old Sony TV, a Sony VCR, an early Sony OEM DVD drive, and a fat Sony PS3 which retains the OtherOS capability. I also have (I think) all of George Hotz's code.

    The receiver is broken and will be replaced, probably Denon. I never will purchase another Sony product. I like to think I am far from alone.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You havn't replaced your TV for 37 years..

      I don't think that Sony will be losing any sleep about losing you as a customer.... Still your loss, enjoy the Xbox and it's lack of great games...

      1. wim

        obviously trolling for sony

        Please can you tell me what the lack of games are for 360 ?

        I know that 2011 is going to be the year of PS3 (for the 5th time in a row) but can you tell me what great PS3 games are out there that have no similar game on 360 ?

        1. CD001


          Just buy a gaming PC - granted the initial outlay is considerably higher but you get better games for it - I've clocked up almost 400 hours in Civ 5 since I bought it, about 300 hours on TF2 (according to Steam) and probably about the same on X3 games, no idea how much on Total War games - none of which are available on consoles. I suspect, from that list, only TF2 would even work on a console (from a UI standpoint as much as anything else) - but it would utterly ruin it by moving from server/client to p2p.

          The only console games that have come close for me have been in the Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo and Final Fantasy series (I mostly game on a PC but I've owned all three generations of Playstation).

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Agreed! Nothing beats getting that pc game out of the wrapper...

            ...and finding it won't run cos of some hideous windows problem!

            Try doing that on a console!

            1. Tom 35 Silver badge

              title is required, and must contain mail and/or fingers

              Console games have cought up with PC games. Now console gamers can buy a game that doesn't work until they download a giant patch.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          OK then....

          2009 was the year of the PS3

          2010 was also the year of the PS3

          2011 is clearly already the year of the PS3 too.

          There are based of meta-ratings from lots of sites, as we all know that many sites are very biased towards the Xbox, due to either American allegiances, or Microsoft mammoth advertising budgets.

          If you don't have a PS3 yet, then you are the only loser here. Stop kidding yourself and believing everything the American gaming blogs tell you about the American console.

        3. Dave 15 Silver badge

          tell me...

          what great games are out there for any of the game platforms that are actually any better than the games available on my old atari tv console (with its squash, tennis, football).

          What I see is increasingly mindless and colourful 'shoot em ups' , rather unimpressive 'driving games' and a very small number of 'intelligence games' which really don't stretch anyones imagination or brain power.

  11. P Zero

    I have to say...

    If Sony get anywhere with this, they've lost a customer. They're welcome to protect their IP, but when they start removing features and punishing people for attempting to bring them back on consoles they own, it's not cricket.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't think Sony have a leg to stand on over the actual hack... they are just pissed that they published. Legally I don't think they could have done anything if they hadn't published.

  13. The Dodoman

    No pay, no play.

    Suckers root their kit in order to play games for cheap. My point is if suckers can't bother to pay for an original game then they don't deserve to play. I bet that quite a few game coders out there who look after their family with their hard earned cash will agree. Well done for the law.

  14. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


    I hope Geo has had the sense to load up some virii to his machines before handing them over.

    Perhaps a Sony Rootkit based worm called 'Chicken'.

    That way it can go home to roost and shit all over their servers.

  15. irish donkey

    Intresting all the down votes

    Do Sony and others of their ilk pay people/a business to go to sites like this one and protect their public reputation by arguing against any sane discussion being held.

    Too many times I noticed rational arguments/opinions being met with complete dismissal before being finished with a flourish as to how good/loving/legally correct the object of the discussion is. Seems moral arguments mean nothing to these people.

    And they always seem to be anonymous cowards.

    I sure there is a interesting study there if anybody could be bothered doing a little analysis

  16. Octoberon

    What Now for Sony?

    Following their legal success today, a spokesman for Sony said the company will now be, "turning their attention to a stable door that has been left open, reclaiming lost toothpaste for future use, and committing resources to returning their cat to its soft storage receptacle."

    I'm sure we all wish them the best of luck with that.


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