Apparently the PS3 hacks recently discovered and released by hacking group fail0verflow are too hefty for another two hour system update to fix (but lord knows that won’t stop them from trying). Sony filed for a temporary and permanent restraining order against George “geohot” Hotz and several other members of fail0verflow last night.
They’re not being sued just yet, as Sony’s not yet seeking monetary damages. Here are the terms of the restraining order:
Geohot and other members of fail0verflow cannot:
- Share, promote, create, or do anything involving circumvention technology, of course specifically mentioning the PS3 security software
- Provide links to anyone else doing the same
- Mess with any copyrighted software on or with the PS3
- Access the PS3 or PSN illegally
- Publish or distribute any tool that will allow others to access the PS3 or PSN illegally
- Encourage others to break PS3 security or copyrights
Sony references the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in substantiating this claim, which respectively state that you can’t reverse engineer security systems or access computers in an unauthorized manner.
I also giggled that Sony is claiming employment extortion against Geohot, referencing the offand comment “If you want your next console to be secure, get in touch with me.” I guess if you’re going to do all that damn legal paperwork you might as well get some mileage out of it.
Sony’s also seeking a complete impound of all the defendant’s shit – any storage media used to store circumvention devices will have to be delivered to San Francisco, CA. Ultimately, this is the extent of the monetary damage any of the defendants would suffer, assuming the restraint is both granted and complied with.
So the bottom line here is that Sony isn’t treating this as a payday or being unfairly harsh. Given that the majority of the court filing is spent citing other court cased and precedents, the statement behind this legal action is “if we wanted to, we could pull the trigger and wreck your life.”
It’s a bit like a smack to the back of the head of the kid that keeps mouthing off in the supermarket. Nothing to do lifetime damage, but just enough to remind the little guy that he can’t mouth off whenever he wants. Also that smack is with the ring hand.
There are some philosophical layers to this lawsuit. The first is once you buy something, shouldn’t you be able to do whatever you want with it? The answer to that is no, sadly, as laid out by the DMCA. What’s more interesting to ponder – is exploiting an existing flaw really violating the DMCA?
Geohot could argue that the flaw he exploited existed in the PlayStation 3 as distributed, so he was using it in a manner according to its design. Such arguments still fall in a grey area around the DMCA, so god forbid if this goes to court we might see that argument played out.