Sony’s GeoHot Settlement Won’t Stop Anonymous

Sony Entertainment has reached a settlement with George Hotz, aka “GeoHot,” the hacker who jailbroke Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming console. The settlement was reached on March 31, according to a Sony blog post. The terms were not fully disclosed, but Hotz has apparently agreed to a permanent injunction.

This is hardly the end of the matter, though — at least not if the hacktivist group Anonymous has anything to say about it.

No Truce

The group, simply put, is at war with Sony over its suits against Hotz and other hackers. Most recently, Anonymous launched several denial of service attacks against Sony’s websites, including the PlayStation site. For the most part, the attacks were successful — the PlayStation site was down for most of Monday — but the group is now moving on to new targets.

It is calling for a 24-hour, in-store boycott of Sony retail stores on April 16 via the group’s Facebook page. The reason for the change in tactics may well have been the complaints about the attacks, which ultimately hurt gamers as much as, if not more than, Sony, Anonymous recognized.

Their demands, which they have detailed in YouTube posts, include allowing PlayStation owners to be able to modify their consoles and share content online — in essence to be able to legally jailbreak the consoles — as well as having Sony cease its legal actions against PlayStation hackers.

To hear Anonymous describe it, their demands are on par with the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:

“Their [Sony] propaganda regarding jailbreaking implies that it encourages piracy and thereby makes people lose their jobs, whereas jailbreaking actually just means you are making YOUR device do what it should do. Imagine if Microsoft forced you to use Internet Explorer instead of Firefox or Chrome. Imagine if they denied users from using any other web browser than their own.”

Given the level of rhetoric, it is unlikely any settlement with Hotz will be the end of the matter for Anonymous.

Not One to Flinch

Sony has the law on its side, Christopher M. Collins, a partner with Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, told the E-Commerce Times. Even if its legal position were ambivalent, though, Sony would not be one to flinch from a legal fight over perceived violations of its intellectual property.

In the case it just settled, the company accused Hotz of posting online information about the security system in the PlayStation 3 videogame console and software that Sony said could be used to circumvent the console’s security system. Hotz has denied any wrongdoing on his part.

For once, with this particular set of issues, Sony likely has public opinion — such as it is on this particular issue — on its side, said Collins.

“I think most non-gamers, if they have been following this issue at all, appreciate Sony’s position. You cannot walk into a Home Depot, for example, and take out something without paying for it,” he said. “People see this as the same thing. If you don’t like Sony’s rules, their thinking goes, then don’t buy the products.”

4 Comments

  • If someone were to steal gas then write a blog on how to do it. Then home depot took down everyone’s ips and went and pulled the engine from theyre lawnmowers. Is a similar analogy, cause thats what sony did they took down a site protected by the first AM endment and took ips and banned those people from the ps3 network. And those people shouldnt be subjected to that just for a viewing a site which btw is legal. It is protected by the first AM endment if they can prove he pirated software that is bad. But there are sites with bomb making ect ect but they are protected by the first AM endment.

    • Sure you can do what you want with your lawnmower, but if you steal the gas to run it, that’s a problem. That’s what’s at stake here, the gas (IP) of artists, developers and publishers. Once Hotz *published* his hacks he stepped over the line.

      It won’t be a kid in Indiana using the hacks to steal games it will be China or Mexico stealing and selling them.

      You need to think outside of your comfy little box.

  • I see Mr. Collins point but it can be said that the same Home Depot after the purchase of a ladder would not take the top rung away after the point of sale. Not every one uses the top rung but a few may. This is in a way what Sony did about a year ago with disabling a feature that could install linux (by removing the OtherOS feature). Not every one used it but some did.

    In this case it seems to me that both sides were in the wrong. Mr. Hotz publishing the METLDR keys and asking for defense money because he was perceived to be a Robin Hood for doing this act was not right. Sony getting the right to collecting IP addresses of every that visited the Geohot site and raising serious privacy issues was not right either.

    Two wrongs do not usually make a right.

  • If I were to buy, let’s say a lawnmower, from Home Depot it would be up to me what I can do with it since I already paid for it. If I purchased a PS3 is should be really up to me what I can do with it. Now with that said I think obviously if you choose to do whatever you want to it you void the warranty just like taking apart a lawnmower. There should be no other repercussions.

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