George Hotz has left the building--and the country. According to a filing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California--San Francisco Division--by Sony Computer Entertainment America, the PlayStation 3 hacker has traveled to South America during the middle of a legal struggle with the game giant.
According to the document, "SCEA learned that Hotz had deliberately removed integral components of his impounded hard drives prior to delivering them to a third party neutral and that Hotz is now in South America, an excuse for why he will not immediately provide the components of his hard drives as requested by the neutral [third party]. Hotz's attempts to dodge this Court's authority raise very serious questions."
In addition, SCEA contends that Hotz lied about having a PlayStation Network account. "Contrary to Hotz's declaration under oath, jurisdictional discovery has revealed that Hotz did register for a PSN account," read the document. The company's filing contends that Hotz owned four PlayStation 3s, one of which he bought in February 2010.
Through the process of discovery, Sony tracked that console's serial number to a GameStop store several miles from the purported hacker's home. Through its records, Sony claims that Hotz created a PSN account under the name "blickmanic" on March 10, 2010, using the PS3 with that serial number. Because one has to accept the PSN terms of service to create an account, Sony asserts that Hotz is in violation of the TOS and must be held accountable.
[UPDATE] In a blog post, Hotz contends his South America trip was a pre-planned vacation and has nothing to do with the lawsuit. "Factually, it's true I'm in South America, on a vacation I've had planned and paid for since November," he said. "I mean, it is Spring break; hacking isn't my life. Rest assured that not a dime of legal defense money would ever go toward something like this. And of course [Sony law firm] Townsend loves the idea of painting me as an international fugitive. I have been in contact with my lawyers almost every day; I would not let the case suffer. That said, I also won't let this ridiculous lawsuit run my life either. Then the fearmongerers win."
Hotz's South American sojourn is the latest twist in the ongoing legal struggle between Sony, Hotz, and a group of PS3 hackers known as fail0verflow. In January, Sony unleashed its legal department on Hotz and the group, accusing them of releasing security keys allowing people to run unauthorized software on their consoles. Thus far, that investigation has largely centered upon Hotz, who had been ordered by the court to forfeit his computers, hard drives, and other storage material to Sony's legal team.