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PS3 hacker case delayed by 'jurisdictional' confusion

Sony wants Californian trial due to use of Twitter and PayPal

The initial hearing of Sony's lawsuit against PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz has already resulted in a delay to the case.

San Francisco district court judge Susan Illston questioned whether it was appropriate to hold the case in California, given Hotz's breaching of PS3 security was attempted in his home state of New Jersey.

However, Sony's lawyers argued that the hack was revealed via California-hosted services Twitter and YouTube, and in addition Hotz allegedly received fan donations via another California-based site, PayPal.

With the State debate raising doubt about where online-centric lawsuits should physically be held, Illston worried that "If having a PayPal account were enough, then there would be personal jurisdiction in this court over everybody, and that just can't be right.

"That would mean the entire universe is subject to my jurisdiction, and that's a really hard concept for me to accept."

The ruling on these "serious questions" has been pushed back to an as-yet undecided time.

Sony hopes to force Hotz to surrender any and all computer equipment used to create the hack, as well as unspecified damages and the removal of the jailbreak from its hosting sites. At the time of writing, the hack remains freely downloadable.

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Latest comments (18)

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College5 years ago
*NOT ACTUAL REAL LIFE*

Hotz surrenders an old Atari ST and his [unjailbroken] ipod to Sony as a gesture of goodwill accounting for all his 'computer equipment' with the only [legally bought] track being "Why Cant We Be Friends" by War.

/end irony
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Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 5 years ago
Sony knows better than I do whether or not it can win this case.I suspect that Sony is employing a similar strategy of crushing GeoHot with litigation, no matter who is on the right side of the law. It is a simple reality that Sony, as a corporation, has more resources than GeoHot, an individual, and they will exploit that advantage to the fullest. In this situation, Sony filed in a California court as a gamble for the simple reason that GeoHot IS in New Jersey. If they can drag this out elsewhere, they win by making GeoHot's life difficult and drawing from his financial resources.

These tactics aren't foreign to Sony. A long time ago, there was a PS1 emulator for PCs called Bleem!. Sony kept Bleem! in court for so long that Bleem! had to shut down simply because they couldn't afford the endless legal action despite how the courts found that Bleem! was legal.
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Graeme Quantrill Mobile App Developer 5 years ago
Lik-Sang springs to mind. Typical Sony tactics.
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Show all comments (18)
Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College5 years ago
Awww, I miss Lik-Sang! Play-Asia is equivalent now though.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
People is actually donating money to this (insert heavy insult here) while I see more and more people inside the industry being fired and small studies filling for bankrupcy.

They should be paying for original games (specially in PC) and stop wating the money in a guy that (i hope) will never do something like this again.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 17th January 2011 3:06pm

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James Verity5 years ago
Sony are slacking on this Hacking... COD series is nearly unplayable because Sony wont ban the PSN users hacking the game to death... what I find funny is SONY claim hacking of PSN, PS3 and any Games is against their T&C yet they do nothing... maybe Geohot can use this fact in his court case, as clearly Sony dont worry about it...

p.s. problem with Play-Asia is that they will not sell any SONY products to the EU...

btw: the Califonia judge chucked out the twitter, paypal, youtube, excuse Sony is using because if they allowed it would mean nearly everyone on the globe would have to be judged in a California court...

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Edward Keeley Tech Support Agent, Activision Publishing5 years ago
Hotz is a complete and total waste of perfectly good skin.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 5 years ago
Alfonso, some people like to 'stick it to the man' and want to support Holtz and his defense.
Given the resources Sony can bring it weights things heavly in their favour.

I am not defending him but I am also not siding with Sony on this one.

I know that I will save my money and use it for somthing else like a few new games for my 360 or PC
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic5 years ago
Regardless of who 'should' win, I would hope that most people would prefer to see a fair and balanced trial rather than one side inevitably giving up due to being bullied out of court under the pressure of endless admin / travel / financial requirements, losing all his hardware indefinitely, and other inconveniences. Even if Hotz is a right bastard, he still deserves fair treatment, and if this case is going to set a precedent then there's a lot more at stake that the fate of 1 man, regardless of how popular or unpopular he is.
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Temi Web design 5 years ago
its funny that the law still works like that. Like its not obvious to everyone that the wealthy company is simply taking the defendant to court to bankrupt them. Why doesn't the law force the company starting the court cases to pay ALL of the costs and only receive compensation if they actually win?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Temi on 17th January 2011 6:10pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Temi, that's called "don't f#@k with a corporation bigger than your ego" or something like that. If Hotz manages to win, it'll be because his legal team managed to outwit Sony's. If Sony wins, it's the same thing, but gamers lose because there will be even more restrictions down the road.

Sony could paradoxically argue to some extent that the PS3 is indeed a "closed" yet "open" system, as it's primarily made to play PS3 games (plus Blu-Ray & DVD's) and it only allows other titles on the console as "open" software (minis, PSN/PSP and so forth and so on) at their discretion (you can't play Wii or 360 games on the console, as far as I know =P).

They can also cite Hotz' tinkering previously "forced" them to remove Other OS because they felt their system had been compromised (it's NOT a phone, sorry - the cell market is a wholly different animal and a crappy one here in the US with the limited carriers we have to suffer with) and this new hack was another attempt to "force" them to make more changes to the hardware and possibly add unecessary restrictions on those consumers who simply wanted to use their PS3's as intended. Hell, property rights or not, not every consumer is a modder, wants to mod or has an interest in it at all.

If the judge falls for that while looking at other cases where "hacking" was seen as harmful to a big company, Hotz is toazt. Of course, I'm making up those legal arguments on the fly, but I expect that one of two things will happen:

Smart Judge, painful decision either way (based out of the "need" to protect Sony from individuals out to do harm OR the need to protect curious individuals who want to tinker). Dumb Judge: worse decision (not based in reality, as the judge has no tech knowledge). Either way, as noted, gamers end up losing thanks to whatever Sony decides to do in future updates or any new consoles.

Yes, the bleem! suit sucked (why Sony didn't just BUY the company, slap the tech into their PC's and make a fortune selling computers and laptops that played enhanced PS1 games is beyond me. Would have been a win-win in my book), but this is a bit different (or a LOT different, depending on who you ask).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 17th January 2011 7:58pm

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Thiago Attianesi Creative Director, Fan Studios5 years ago
This will be a big fight, and Sony can just gain time, not the war. The game industry need do, like the music industry did, try to reform yourself to the new market, people, laws.
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David Amirian Writer 5 years ago
games ARE a new market. how can you tell a new market to reform around "the new market?"
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Jean Toledo5 years ago
Sorry David, but games are not a new market. And even if you consider it new, you have to remember that protecting software is becoming more and more impossible, and therefore an old-style business. The only software you can really protect is the online services, with data in the cloud.

The music industry is a good parallel; but unfortunately it takes just one guy and a instrumento to compose a song, while a modern game take at least US$5mi to develop... it will be a challenge to make it a profitable business when the publishers loose control over the distribution. The industry will have to re-invent itself, like Thiago said.
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Chris Riccobono QA and Design Lead 5 years ago
So disgusted with the "industry" people that keep bashing this guy.

But that's what businessmen do, find a scapegoat, instead of dealing with the real problem at hand.
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That someone broke user agreement and is now being sue'd because he messed up? Messed up as in getting caught?
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Chris Riccobono QA and Design Lead 5 years ago
Why be so shortsighted as to focus only on his "getting caught"? The law itself is the issue here; is that not obvious?

When DeCSS was cracked (the digital encryption for DVDs) the ensuing legal battle set a very beneficial precedent for purchasers to be able to backup their content, and in the end, the consumer was acknowledged - as they should be. I foresee another event like this happening with Blu-Ray.
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Tom Zelinski Co-Founder & Member, Board of Directors, Simutronics Corp.5 years ago
I honestly do not care what platform, media, product is being discussed in the legal realm, per se. There are several issues that need to be addressed: international/country laws and penalties and so on. Obviously, money is being made in our industry however, that is not the issue. Plainly stated, it is the true protection of intellectual property. Gang, this is not a new issue! Neither are IP rights on the Internet!

Back in 1985, when I first began diving into the Rabbit Hole, I could understand the unexplored country. But 2011? It does indeed continue to be like an endless Black Hole of not getting a grip on basic issues of IP protections, legal reforms and (most importantly) an International Industry Watchdog Organization whose duty it is is to alert companies of the "latest" hacks and holes.

Companies are losing billions. I have the feeling that they would reach into their pockets for a centralized Center which would specifically specialize in protecting their properties. Oh, I know, each company has their own Alert Centers. It is their choice: depend on their own singular resources or use their resources with a combined world-wide co-operative alert/fix center.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall. (I'm a Yank, of course...)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Zelinski on 19th January 2011 8:47am

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