Happy New Year Geohot – Court Orders Seizure Of PS3 Hacker’s Computers

We published the story about the Playstation 3 (PS3) Finally Hacked & Exploit Released back in January 2010. The exploit of course developed by the very prolific hacker and jailbreaker extraordinaire Geohot.

He became notorious way back in 2007 by fulling unlocking the iPhone and then again in 2008 by jailbreaking the iPhone running 1.12 and 1.13 firmware.

At some point he also turned his attention to rooting the Playstation 3 and broke through the OtherOS leading Sony to disable it. The latest news is Sony is going all out against him for breaking the DMCA, for copyright infringement and a string of other accusations.

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 Francisco. It’s a major victory for Sony and a setback for hacker hobbyists who believe they should be permitted to modify hardware they legally own. It comes in a lawsuit Sony filed two weeks ago against New Jersey-based Geohot shortly after he deduced the security key Sony used to lock down the PS3.
Click here to find out more!

The ruling also comes as a defeat to 21-year-old Hotz, who two weeks ago, argued he wasn’t subject to the suit because he doesn’t have sufficient ties to Northern California, where the action was brought. Shortly after release of the order, his attorney vowed to fight on.

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed about the issuance of the TRO, but this doesn’t end the question of personal personal jurisdiction of Mr. Hotz, and we still intend to go forward with that motion,” San Francisco-based lawyer Stewart Kellar told The Register. “Suffice it to say it is burdensome to my client for him to give up his computers and hard drives for the order.”

It’s a tricky area as people assume once they’ve bought the hardware (the PS3 in this case) they own it and it’s their to do as they please with. Whilst that stands correct for the hardware, it does not for the software or bootloader on the machine – that is merely licensed to the user and still belongs to Sony.

So what Sony are claiming is George does not have the authority to reverse engineer the software or release the cryptographic key used to sign games to the public and by doing this he has damaged their business and therefore revenue.

They are also bringing the the DMCA into the the mix (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which never ends well.

Sony’s complaint claimed that by publishing the means to bypass the protection measures built into the console, Hotz violated provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Illston said Sony had “submitted substantial evidence” showing the hack constituted a DMCA violation and that Sony was likely to “suffer irreparable harm” if it wasn’t curtailed.

Sony’s suit names some 100 other people from a hacking collective known as fail0verflow, who in late December revealed the key used to sign PS3 games and demonstrated how to use it to run homebrew apps on the console. A few weeks later, Hotz independently deduced the “metldr” key, which allowed him to root the PS3. Sony’s complaint also alleges the hackers violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The PS3’s use of IBM’s Cell processor makes the console ideal for tackling brute-force cryptography attacks and other parallel computing operations. Once upon a time, Sony included a modified version of Linux with the PS3. Sony eventually disabled the so-called OtherOS after Hotz devised a way to use it to gain full memory access to the console.

Hotz was among the first to jailbreak Apple’s iPhone so it would work on carrier networks other than AT&T’s. Last year, the US Copyright Office exempted iPhone jailbreaking from the DMCA so that they can run apps not officially sanctioned by Apple.

The PS3 is a very powerful piece of hardware locked down by a proprietary OS so that it can’t be ‘misused’ according to the definitions enforced on the users by Sony. As is normal with consoles, the console itself is actually sold at a loss (especially in the early days) and the companies make money from selling games. Now if somehow comes along and cracks the copy protection on the games and the console and allows everyone to play pirated games – their business model is screwed isn’t it?

And the US courts have already ruled that jailbreaking your iPhone is legal, so why not the PS3 as well?

I hope Geohot gets his computers and hard-drives back soon as having your stuff hauled away is one of the worst things that can happen.

Source: The Register

Posted in: Cryptography, Exploits/Vulnerabilities, Hardware Hacking

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4 Responses to Happy New Year Geohot – Court Orders Seizure Of PS3 Hacker’s Computers

  1. ALQI January 29, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I hate Sony.

  2. doghead January 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Homie should press on. Reverse engineering in a not-for-profit, research context is permitted in our corporate authoritarian regime. The EULA means little – they’re not actual agreements so much as advisories that corporations will sue, which they have. That Sony says they sell the consoles for a “loss” is not material. The buyer pays what they ask to get the console. No agreement is made regarding its use. Sony assumes peokple will do the obvious thing and to buy the hallucinogens they also supply. But they buy indeed owns that machine and the instance of whatever comes along inside it.

    What Sony attempts to do is to end-run around both property and research rights by sticking proprietary firmware into these machines and pointing to the corporation-written DMCA. But that insane law isn’t on point here. Sony is not harmed; they may continue selling their digital hashish just as before. Geohot just finds ways to reuse these boxes for people who have managed their game habits to the point of having time to think about how else to use these underexploited tools, and he shares his findings. No copyright violation arises here. For the court to have found Sony damaged here is preposterous. It goes to demonstrate how incompetent our legal system is to handle technical cases, and demonstrates the difficulty of finding justice as a person under attack by a corporation in a system stocked with politicized, corporation funded justice hearing cases on law conceived, bought, and paid for by corporations.

    The lawyers need to press the logic as hard as they can through the appeal process, and should do it or line up help to do it pro bono. This is a very basic issue that seriously erodes our ability to decide what we do or do not do with the crap we buy and keep in our homes and other spaces.

  3. X sony FAN February 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Wow, i’m heart broken, i had more faith in sony than that, i used to boast about the perks of playstations versus xbox, and couldn’t be more a #1 Fan, now after reading this, i think i’ll take the money i been saving for the upgrade to my black ps3, and instead go buy an xbox or nintindo better yet,in fact i’m starting to wonder why i ever strayed away from nintindo, this was a very childish move on sonys part, i can almost envision a kid that just sold his teddy to someone and they put a hat on it, now they’re cryen cause they don’t like the new teddy they once had, what a bunch of cry babys, this is a similar instance as the whole automakers thing of wanting to integrate the stereo so aftermarket has no place, well guess what sony, it’s not that hack that’s hurting you, but yet this recent action that will lead to a hurt of your business, if people can’t do as they please with, i.e modify” their shiny new toy, they will soon lose interest or never have any, what’s the point??? as an Ex sony fan, exploit enthusiast, consumer, and in part of outrage of these actions, I SAY F@#$%! YOU SONY, i think while i’m at it i’ll sell the original ps i have, the sony stereo i have, the 2″ ps2’s” and as i said earlier take the money i been saving for number three and go buy a nintindo and some games,my home will be completely sony free from now on,and i think i’ll warn all my friends to warn all their friends not to buy sony anymore, i bet at least they wouldn’t cry about modification or upgrade, wow man, just wow,…

    ps, i hope sony doesn’t try to sue me for, owning, selling, playing, ever purchasing, using, looking at, listening to, or any other thing i’ve ever done with my sony products, hell if you’re not allowed to explore the code of your ps3, what the hell else are you not allowed to do with sony products, buh bye sony, guess we wont see #4 after this little escapade will we? XD what a bunch of whiners,….

  4. Bogwitch February 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Never forget, Sony were the ones to bring us the DRM rootkit and people contined to buy their products. Go figure.

    On a related note and it’s surely a token gesture more than anything else, Microsoft are releasing an SDK for Kinect. At least M$ are paying lip service to supporting the home development scene rather than persecuting and prosecuting anyone wielding a #1 pozi.