Sony granted IP access in PS3 jailbreak case

Northern California court orders Bluehost, Google, Twitter, YouTube to hand over identifying information of all individuals who accessed George Hotz's websites, videos, hack.


Sony has won yet another legal victory over PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George "GeoHot" Hotz. Northern California District Judge Joseph Spero has granted Sony's request to unmask visitors to various websites related to the PS3 hack, which lets people install and run unauthorized software on the system, from homebrew applications to pirated games and custom firmware.

Those who downloaded the PS3 jailbreak be warned: Sony has your IP address.
Those who downloaded the PS3 jailbreak be warned: Sony has your IP address.

The court order, issued on March 3, stipulates that Bluehost, which hosts Hotz's website, must turn over all documentation that can be used to identify anyone who visited the website. That information includes names and telephone numbers, as well as e-mail and IP addresses. Notably, the order gives Sony access to all the IP addresses that accessed the PS3 jailbreak download from Hotz's website.

In its argument, Sony justified this information request by stating that it has "a good faith basis to obtain this information because it is relevant to whether the Court has jurisdiction over Mr. Hotz. SCEA needs to determine how rampant the access to and use of these circumvention devices has been in California in order to rebut Mr. Hotz's suggestion that his illicit conduct was not aimed at the forum state."

The information request is also pertinent, Sony argued, because it speaks to Sony's charge that Hotz has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by evidencing Hotz's "distribution of a circumvention device to other persons." Sony notes that it would not be possible to obtain this information from any other source, a key component to address the otherwise intrusive nature of its claim.

The California court's order also extends to information requests sent to Twitter, Google, and YouTube. Sony's documentation request to Twitter seeks to uncover private tweets that may be used to determine whether Hotz targeted his PS3 jailbreak to individuals in California, which is a core procedural question. The jurisdiction question is also a component of Sony's information requests sent to Google and YouTube.

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