Geohot Case Settlement

It looks like Sony and [George Hotz] have reached an out-of-court settlement in the case brought against the hacker who is more well-known as [Geohot].

This is the end (we think) of an ongoing saga that originally drew our ire when Sony removed OtherOS support as a sledge-hammer-type fix for holes that [Geohot] found in the security system used by PlayStation 3 hardware. Our beef with that move is that it punished people who bought a PS3 knowing that it could run Linux natively, only to have that rug retroactively pulled out from under them. [Geohot] then went on to publish details that allow those with the proper skills to leave a smoldering pile of slag where Sony’s hardware security used to reside.

They slapped him with a lawsuit for publishing those details. This settlement doesn’t have him admitting any wrongdoing. We’re not going to editorialize on the morals or ethics of [George’s] actions, but we do still think that Sony greatly overreacted at several points along this unfortunate string of events.

[Thanks Buggs187]

49 thoughts on “Geohot Case Settlement

  1. The back and fourth that Sony participates in with hackers/modders is ridiculous for a company the size of Sony. The only people really being punished are the consumers. That said, I don’t see Sony as the big bad guy in this situation.. that title belongs to the DMCA.

  2. After skimming the comments made by common Sony fanboys on the Sony link you posted, I’m actually very disgusted with the general populous. There are a lot of very, very stupid people out there, and this re-realization gets me every time.

  3. The thing that gets me is that Sony keeps making stupid decision after stupid decision. Memorystick? What uses those now? SD became the standard. Betamax? CRVdiscs? The Walkman was at least something Sony pretty much got right but it had no DRM and was truly a better product for its time.

    Sony has a history of making technically brilliant things and then royally screwing them up by imposing arcane DRM and other restrictions that prevent the mass adoption of said invention.

    Not only that, but the hacker community manages to break all of the things Sony tries to build into said things to prevent such hackery to begin with. In short, they screw their customers and then they screw themselves. And they do it time and time again. You would think they would have learned by now but they keep making money so *shrug* – let them keep screwing up I guess.

    There is a reason Android is flourishing as much as it is against Apple.

  4. …People actually BACKED UP SONY ON THIS?! And the sad fact is I know it cannot just be a bunch of astroturfing because there are people that stupid to think removing key features count as an upgrade… certainly explains things like Sony’s success even with their OCD control issues along with Apple’s god complex when it comes to their stuff…. Now if only somebody could tell me the reasoning behind letting people jailbreak or root their phones and preventing people from doing the same to their legally owned consoles.

  5. For the record, Betamax was not really a mistake, and Sony was actually the hero of the Jack Valenti / MPAA attempt to make VCR’s illegal. It was the president of Sony who decided a cartridge should be kept to the size of a paperback book. It was JVC though which realized that the ability to record an entire football game would be a milestone, and made a larger cartridge with an inferior low-quality format to support this. Right to the end Betamax users said the quality and reliability were better than VHS, but VHS won for marketing reasons.

    1. I bought exactly three Sony products over about 20 years: a Walkman, a Hi-8mm video camera, and a DVD player. All three failed in one way or another within 1-2 years of purchase, outside of warranty.

      I’m not a gamer but if I ever do go down that path, I’ll be buying an XBox, NOT a PlayStation.

  6. I agree that Betamax was a technologically superior format. Sony had to take the position they did against the MPAA and I am glad they did because it preserved the right of the people to use their own technology in ways that make good sense. But who actually thinks that memory stick was a good idea?

  7. Geohot screwed over a lot of people on both sides. He said he would demand for OtherOS to be brought back as part of the settlement and then asked for donations to help with legal fees. Thousands of people donated to him and in the end he gave up on the fight and never got those demands met. Now hundreds of thousands of people are mad at him for just settling this suit.

    What a lot of idiots seem to think is that geohot’s actions enabled piracy and cheating online, which is not true. There was cheating online before geohot even touched a PS3, and it was PSJailbreak that set out to enable piracy. Geohot has always taken a stance against piracy and even went as far as to make his CFW have an extra step that made it harder for people to play backed up games.

    The public is really stupid, and geohot is a back stabber.

  8. I have already decided some time ago to boycott Sony and this doesn’t change that for a bit.

    Only way to punish a company like Sony is to make masses not buy their products.

      1. AFAIK Sony CD Players from some years did not play any CD-R. But the ones from before the invention of the CD-R do just fine. I own a model from early 1990ies (which was really expensive these times, especially for me as a student), but it plays – and still plays – CD-Rs. Although I do not use it very much in the last years, as a harddisk full of music is more convenient.

  9. The only reason I enjoyed the PS3 not being hacked was because I could reasonably expect I was on an equal playing field with other players while online gaming. Its frustrating that people would rather scam game companies out of compensation and resort to annoying hacks to cheat at games. (Besides hardware hacks of course)

  10. After reading all the Sony fanboi comments I can definitely understand the ‘the public is stupid’ sentiment. I don’t know about Geohot being a ‘backstabber’ though. I’m sorry but anyone who actually believed that Geohot by himself ever had a chance to make Sony reverse it’s decision is as much living in their own reality as the Sony fanbois.

    On the other hand… if someone tried to make the point that Geohot has his own intelligence issues… that I would buy. Sure, the guy is a genius in one sense to have broken the key in the first place but all his mental abilities must be weighed towards hacking with little brain devoted to common sense. He never should have taken on Sony so openly. A smarter person would have driven to a cafe in a town far far away to which he had no connections just to use Tor and post that stuff anonymously. I’d even go so far as to leave the cellphone at home and pay for everything in cash along the way.

  11. I acctualy was rooting for this idiot, and again bitchboy bitches up. Takes donations, has anonymus on his side and the little bitch settles. And on top of that he is actually talking about boucotting sony….ARE YOU POOPING ME DUDE. I had mad respect for him but he never seases to diSapoint.

  12. The same DMCA that Sony uses to ruin the lives of kids who download music also states that it is a felony to cause any computing device to operate code without the consent of the owner.

    Since PS3s are sold, Sony is not the owner.

    When Sony forces code without the owners’ consent, that is a felony.

    Other people have already gone to prison for doing what Sony has done.

  13. Sony has made some excellent products like Betamax but they tried to control it too much and lost to the cheaper VHS plus there was more devices using VHS. They learned their lesson with Blu-ray especially that the PS3 could play them natively like the PS2 for DVD’s(I believe that is what really killed the Dreamcast *sigh*).

    Now with that said I think Sony is arrogant and thinks it can screw their customers over and get away with it, which so far they are. I love my PS3 and was furious for the loss of other OS support. My PS3 is one of the things I didn’t want to hack but I’ve been tempted because of this. Its the only Sony product I’ve bought since the whole rootkit deal(another thing they got away with)

    I refuse to pay for Micro$oft products if I don’t have to(I hate that company)but which is the lesser evil(Sega comeback to us)

    1. Nintendo WII…
      Don’t like micro$haft, so xbox is out, and I havn’t bought anything sony for well over 20 years. I’d had it with that company *long* before the rootkit fiasco (if I did that as an individual, I’d still be in jail… and they got away with it! WTF!). I won’t even buy second hand sony products nowdays.

  14. Right, two things:

    I’m glad Sony hunts these people down. We complain about it now, Sony taking away content (as I also reasonably expected to run an OS) but I’ve always been very happy to load up and know that everybody is playing legit whereas my friend next door, playing the 360, comes over and complains about all the hackers he just went against.

  15. actually, publishing of those bugs and security holes could be some kind of help to sony.
    because they know the bugs and they just have to fix it to make their system more stronger.

    got my point? lol

  16. I havent bought Sony since the rootkit fiasco. But they keep giving me new reasons to not reverse that decision.

    Sony, if its on your label I can just find it on youtube or do without(and I block the advertising). I buy LG dvd drives instead of yours. When I needed noise canceling headphones, Sennheiser provided good product. Archos makes a nice MP3 player, I dont need to buy yours.

    Anything you offer I can do without, and I buy top of the line. I figure your stupidity has cost you minimum 2k from me alone, and there are tens of thousands of guys just like me.

  17. you know, those old betamax players are an entire partsbin to themselves. i took one a part back in the early 90’s, just an absolute wealth of parts. i seem to recall there being just an insane amount of screws, had to be close to 200 or so, maybe just seems like more than it was, it’s been so long. i dont consider myself a fanboy, but those old sony products were such a joy to take apart, i’m quite certain i’d buy another betamax if ever happen upon one again.

  18. Sony has probably screwed themselves hard by going after Geohot. Sony reached out to a few people and offered them jobs in hopes to block out the security flaws and because of this those people turned it down. It’s very possible that those people who were aagainst playing backups on the ps3 might actually be more agressive and hack it for that reason.

  19. I sell car audio and video for a living I do the installs the upgrades and the customization.

    For years and I mean 7 or more I have refused to deal with S.o.n.y. (Some Other Noobs Yearning)
    Sony has been a bane to mobile audio and video for a long time. I mean after all they do sell some audio products at wally world. Another place I can’t stomach.

    All I can say is you won’t find a playstation in my house you won’t find a phone t.v. or camera. You can’t find the sony name in my house because they offer horrible products with horrible tech support. And if anyone remembers the sony explode audio line they know that the reason it was called explode was because it did after just a few short months receivers would fry.

  20. The majority of people in the world are not mad at Sony, but rather they support Sony.

    We see a skewed view because we visit sites like hackaday. Sony did want they needed to, in order to protect their users and PSN.

    Personally I say fuck Geohot for creating the mess that has come from his actions. Now there’s tonnes of people ruining PSN with hacked games.

    About 12 people worldwide were using OtherOS. So lets be realistic.

  21. Its just as illegal (their term not mine..) an iphone as it is ps3, difference is apple knows better than to openly go after the very people that buy their products…..

    and for the record, every one that is upset at geohot, donations aside…why don’t one of you sit in his chair!!! AT 19 – 20 yrs he should take on the machine, risk losing and risk losing his freedom and/or financial future for something he probably never should of done in the first place.

    If you want to be so ballsy, take geohots work rebrand it, re-release it, and then email sony saying I dont care, I’m gonna fight you tooth and nail cuz I BELIEVE!!!! RIGHT!!!! most of the loudest talkers are the biggest cowards and would avoid Geo’s situation like a disease, and I wouldn’t fault them for it. Prison is bad place to be, been there done that.

  22. You have only purchased the right to operate/use a PS3, not the intellectual property of the PS3 itself. Posting information regarding the operation of the system is violating the terms of the purchase. I’m glad Sony chased this idiot down.

    A PS3 update is optional to install. If you do, you accept their terms and conditions. If you’ve installed an update, then you cannot whinge about what the update does/doesn’t do.

    If you don’t like it? Don’t buy it!!

    1. If you’ve installed an update, then you cannot whinge about what the update does/doesn’t do.
      If you don’t like it? Don’t buy it!!
      Eeverything might be great at the beginning – – when you bought it — but then the company [Sony] releases an update that removes functionality that you paid for (or bought specifically because it allowed you to do something).

      It sounds to me like people chose to buy a PS3 vs another system because it offered something other consoles did not (the ability to run Linux). Now they cannot do this — because Sony updated the code to disallow it.

      If you were to ask me — Sony only should have only done that to newer PS3 models and not have made it retro-active through firmware update.

  23. Sony used to be a great company until they got into the media biz and from there they went down hill as the greed associated with the business acted like a slow cancer in the company eating the company from the inside.
    It was slow at first and then accelerating when idiots like Steve Heckler got on board.
    By 2004 after getting into the music biz the company was rubbish and started doing down right illegal things such as the CD rootkit which is a felony.
    If there was justice some Sony execs should have done hard time.

    Really the best thing they could do right now is split the company the save the hardware side and let the media side of the company finish hanging it’s self.

    Otherwise it can as far as I’m concerned Sony can become yet another dead brand once famous in the 80s and 90s but now history.

    I have not bought any of their products recently as to be honest they no longer have anything compelling the competition is better now.
    Why buy their electronics Vizio and Samsung are just as good but cost less.

  24. @Lion XL
    Apple may not be as great a company as it was during the 70s though early 2000s but they are still a better company then Sony is today.
    I do not support them having the iphone locked but there is some argument in having it be safe but they are not stupid enough to go after and criminalize users who decide to jail break their phones.
    Apple even has no DRM in their OS not even activation.
    I’m not an apple fan boy I think the ipad is very over priced for what it is and the imac much to limited in expandability.

    Heck even Microsoft is better then Sony is now.

  25. Lion XL, It’s not illegal on an iphone either. There was an actual court ruling on that.

    There is a license to practice medicine, and a license to drive a car, and those and many other licenses are governed by a licensing body. But there IS NO LICENSING BODY for private products. It is simply a contract with the licensing buzz word thrown in. A contract is a binding agreement between two or more people, and not only is it not valid because it’s not binding on all parties, but it’s not valid because it is not on the price tag when you purchase it.

    Sony and most of the corporate world are corrupt, and I support anybody that stands against them, although I think they should be smart enough to release the information into the public domain, anonymously.

  26. donno if this is real or not but the terms of the settlement were leaked….

    IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADJUDGED by consent of the Parties that Hotz,
    whether as an individual or as a principal, officer, director or employee of any business
    entity, and his agents, servants, employees, distributors, suppliers, representatives and all
    other persons or entities acting in concert or participation with Hotz who receive notice of
    this Judgment, shall be and hereby are permanently enjoined and restrained from:

    A. Engaging in any unauthorized access to any SONY PRODUCT under the

    B. Engaging in any unauthorized access to any SONY PRODUCT under the
    terms of any SCEA or SCEA AFFILIATES’ license agreement or terms of use
    applicable to that SONY PRODUCT, whether or not Hotz has accepted such
    agreement or terms of use, including without limitation:

    (i) reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling any portion of the Sony Product;

    (ii) using any tools to bypass, disable, or circumvent any encryption,
    security, or authentication mechanism in the Sony Product;

    (iii) using any hardware or softare to cause the Sony Product to accept
    or use unauthorized, illegal or pirated softare or hardware; and

    (iv) exploiting any Sony Product to design, develop, update or distribute
    unauthorized softare or hardware for use with the Sony Product.
    If any term of such SCEA or SCEA Affilates’ license agreement or terms of
    use applicable to that Sony Product shall be determined by Congress or by a
    court of law in a final non-appealable decision in an action to which SCEA or
    an SCEA Affiliate is a party to be illegal and unenforceable, then such term
    shall not be binding on Hotz.

    C. CIRCUMVENTING any of the TPMs or security in any SONY PRODUCT;

    D. TRAFFICKING in any technology, product, service, device, component, or
    part thereof that, at the time of Hotz’s trafficking, circumvents any of the
    TPMs or security in any SONY PRODUCT, including but not limited to the
    Ellptical Curve Signature Algorithm (“ECDSA”) Keys, encryption andlor
    decryption keys, dePKG firmware decrypter program, Signing Tools, 3.55
    Firmware Jailbreak, andlor any other technologies that enable unauthorized
    access to andlor copying of the PS3 System andlor enable compatibility of
    unauthorized copies of other copyrighted works with the PS3 System.

    E. Distributing or posting any SCEA or SCEA Affiliates’ confidential or
    proprietary information relating to any SONY PRODUCT;

    F. Knowingly assisting or inducing others to engage in any of the conduct set
    forth in A-E above solely directed at any SONY PRODUCT or that otherwise
    constitutes contributory liabilty under the law.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that any violation of this Injunction
    and Order by Hotz shall result in his payment of stipulated liquidated damages in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation at the election of SCEA or SCEA’s
    Affiliates. In the event that the violation involves distribution or TRAFFICKING by Hotz of
    softare, hardware, or any CIRCUMVENTION DEVICE, or knowingly assisting the same,
    each distribution of said softare (including downloads via the Internet), hardware, or
    CIRCUMVENTION DEVICE shall.constitute an independent violation, up to a cap of two
    hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000). Such liquidated damages shall be an
    optional alternative to demonstrating actual or, if relevant, statutory damages.

  27. Oddly, I have a PS3 because the quality of the Xbox 360 w/the RROD was a major concern. With the recent news concerning this lawsuit and all of the positive news concerning the Kinect, I can assure you my next gaming console will not be a Playstation or any other hardware coming from Sony!

    I’d even entertain the idea of a Nintendo because they at least allow a moderate amount of tinkering with the hardware.

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