Sony goes legal on PS3 hackers

Mirroring the path it pursued when fighting last year’s battle against the PSJailbreak device, Sony has gone legal on at least two hackers at the heart of the current PS3 piracy drive.

Kotaku reports that SCEA is seeking a temporary restraining order against both George ‘geohot’ Hotz and hacking group fail0verflow regarding their efforts to crack Sony’s internal PS3 security measures.

Sony argues that the pair’s actions violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as they knowingly open the PS3 up to piracy. It wants their associated websites to be taken offline, equipment to be seized and to restrict their access to PS3 technology.

Hotz is also accused of benefitting financially through unlawful conduct.

At the time of writing both of their websites are down. Hotz’ now links to copies of Sony’s legal documents. fail0voerflow’s splash page states that "Sony sued us", adding:

"Our motivation was Sony’s removal of OtherOS; Our exclusive goal was, and always has been to get OtherOS back; We have never condoned, supported, approved of, or encouraged video game piracy."

Last year as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act the US courts ruled that it is perfectly legal for owners of mobile devices to circumvent any in-built copy protection measures, thus paving the way for legal jailbreaking of things such as the iPhone.

The same does not apply to other devices such as games consoles, however, where it debatably remains illegal to bypass restrictions embedded by the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, it looks as if Sony may well be able to remotely detect any PS3 that has been tampered with.

DigitalFoundry speculates that any PS3 connected to the internet automatically has some element of communication with Sony upon powering up, even if the user is not signed into PSN.

The site believes that this exchange of information could well contain an application log, which if correct would certainly make Sony aware of any unauthorised code that has been run. In theory this could lead to waves of console bans in much the same way as Microsoft has become accustomed to on Xbox Live.

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