Sony/Hotz settlement details surface

"GeoHot" could be subject to up to a $250,000 if he engages in "unauthorized access" to any Sony product; hacker urges boycott of electronics giant.

387 Comments

Yesterday, the months-long legal battle between Sony Computer Entertainment America and hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz came to an end. In a joint statement, the two parties declared they had settled the matter, with Hotz agreeing to a permanent injunction against his publishing methods to hack the PlayStation 3 online.

George Hotz isn't going away quietly.
George Hotz isn't going away quietly.

Now, the documents outlining the settlement have surfaced, detailing the injunction against Hotz. The documents, obtained by GameSpot, describe how, by the consent of both parties, the court "ordered and adjudged" that Hotz is "permanently enjoined and restrained from" a variety of activities. These include "engaging in any unauthorized access to any Sony product under the law" and violating any SCEA license agreement or terms of use agreement "whether or not Hotz has accepted such agreement or terms of use."

The latter part of that agreement covers a wide range of activities, including:

--"Reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling any portion of [a] Sony Product."
--"Using any tools to bypass, disable, or circumvent any encryption, security, or authentication mechanism in [a] Sony Product."
--"Using any hardware or software to cause the Sony Product to accept or use unauthorized, illegal or pirated software or hardware."
--"Exploiting any Sony Product to design, develop, update or distribute unauthorized software or hardware for use with [a] Sony Product."

The agreement goes on to say that Hotz is forbidden from circumventing any technological protection measures on any Sony product, including "any code, device, information, encryption or key" that relates to "any confidential or proprietary information" of Sony's. He is also prohibited from "trafficking" in any technology or information that bypasses technological protection measures on any Sony device or service, with the order mentioning the PlayStation 3 3.55 Firmware Jailbreak by name.

Should Hotz violate the injunction, he will have to pay $10,000 per violation, with a penalty cap of $250,000.

Yesterday's joint statement quoted Hotz as saying, "It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier. I'm happy to have the litigation behind me." Now, though, the hacker is singing a more aggressive tune on his blog. After calling for a boycott of all Sony products, Hotz sounded off on the class action lawsuit filed against Sony after it removed the OtherOS function from the PS3.

"These class action lawsuits are the type that can bankrupt or do seriously financial harm to a company, and finally get Sony to realize that they are not above the law as they would like to believe," he wrote.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 387 comments about this story
387 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for rarson
rarson

@Mondrath "Anyone with half a brain knows that if you give pirates a hole in a system large enough to drive a car through, they'll definitely drive a tank through it." Did you even read what you just wrote? The hole was already there, George found it. Even if he hadn't, someone else would have. Maybe Sony should hire them so that they can make better products. Or maybe I'm just being WAY too logical.

Avatar image for Mondrath
Mondrath

@KamariaK "It's not his fault if they used it for bad reasons" Let me ask you something: If I were to sell you a firecracker, with the knowledge that you were going to do something nasty with it like holding it in someones hand until it explodes, doesn't that make me ethically guilty of helping you harm the person? He has done the same thing: He knew that his work would be used for "bad reasons", as we all did, and therefore he is responsible for the consequences. It just bothers me to no end when people refuse to suffer the consequences of their OWN actions.

Avatar image for rarson
rarson

It doesn't surprise me that many comments are in support of Sony. You've all grown up on the Playstation and can't wrap your heads around Sony's draconian efforts to control what you do with their products in order to extract every last dime from your pocket. That's fine, but the issue here isn't piracy, it's doing what you want with the property you own. Remember the CD protection that borked CD drives when you tried to stick one of their music CDs in? How about the plethora of proprietary formats? (Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro, ATRAC, Betamax, Minidisc, UMD, etc). Don't get me wrong, creating a new format that will provide value to the consumer is a good thing, but Sony has as much of a history of that as they do creating formats to control consumers (as evidenced by the DRM included in each format). The previously-mentioned CD copy protection was easily defeated by simply drawing on the top of the CD with a marker. Someone somehow had the idea to draw on a CD. Is that illegal? Is telling other people that you drew on a CD illegal? If I take something apart and figure out how it works, is that illegal? Intellectual property and copyright laws are outdated and absurd. All they do is hinder technology, and you guys want to keep it that way. I have no idea why.

Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

@hannify: He's got off very lightly... if he doesn't violate the terms of the settlement he won't have to pay a penny... the $250,000 is the maximum penalty "IF" he offends again.

Avatar image for Mondrath
Mondrath

"It was never my intention.....to make piracy easier" What did he think was going to happen? Software pirates were just going to applaud his efforts and sit back to admire his hacking abilities? Anyone with half a brain knows that if you give pirates a hole in a system large enough to drive a car through, they'll definitely drive a tank through it.

Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

Sony never seemed to mind the pirates when the ease of knocking out a quick copy made the original PlayStation the biggest selling console of that generation. Yet now they are the "perceived" industry leader and it's working against them they suddenly can't do enough to stop them.

Avatar image for jin-ro
jin-ro

He get away really easy ,should be happy but what a hell is than boycott nonsense ??? All my stuff is Sony and love it !!! Anyway last word : kill all cheaters !!!! Or at least castrated them

Avatar image for DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

kamaria, he released the master code, therefore it makes him accountable

Avatar image for KamariaK
KamariaK

@DanteDelacoix What are you, some kind of Sony robot? Like I keep telling people, Hotz wasn't looking to utilize the code for piracy, just to unlock the features of the PS3 because they removed stuff like Other OS. It's not his fault if people used it for bad reasons. As long as the actions aren't illegal, you should be allowed to do what you wish with the hardware you purchased.

Avatar image for azumabob
azumabob

Could you imagine this pirate (all 3 stone of him) in somalia!

Avatar image for Valacan
Valacan

@hannify that's only if he violates the agreement again. Seems like he isn't fined anything for what he has already done. He got off scott-free as long as he agreed to be good from now on.

Avatar image for Tennies07
Tennies07

Well sign me up, I'm all for the boycott of all Sony products including the PS3 I spent my hard earned money on and have enjoyed for the past four years. It sounds like some broken pride to me. Sony gave Hotz what he deserved and say what you will, but I'm glad Sony stuck it to him because I'd rather buy a console from a company who is serious about taking down hackers.

Avatar image for DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

Whats the matter Hotz? crying because you got burned? You played in a very dangerous game, you got caught and now youve paid for it. Sony has done everything in a very tidy process and all credit to them. Hotz didnt give a crap about what might happen to Sony or the gaming community, he did all this for his self glorification, well I hope that pill is bitter enough for him...

Avatar image for hannify
hannify

@TurambarGS $250,000 is getting off lightly - how?

Avatar image for KamariaK
KamariaK

You do realize the whole point of hacking the PS3 was to enable homebrew, yes? Hotz had no plans to enable piracy, it was just an unintended side effect. All he did was release the master key.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Mr_Deltoid Oh, I'm sure that the "money incentive" will keep that rebellious attitude down, unless of course he now makes enough money to shrug off such a fine...

Online
Avatar image for A_Belmont
A_Belmont

You know, at first i didn't think of Hotz as such a bad guy. But all he's doing is whining because he's lost, and Sony's done a very tidy job prosecuting him for the things he did in fact do illegally. They never questioned his first amendment rights to free speech (which is what Hotz was claiming), but they did hold him responsible to other laws. I don't like the implications of the settlement, but Hotz has really shown that he's the biggest tool in his shed. Stop bringing attention to yourself Hotz, for the good of all gamers!!!

Avatar image for majere613
majere613

@Ivory-Dynamite: You do own your Ps3- you own the hardware. What you don't own is the OS software and firmware, which remain Sony's property. This is why, if Sony release a patch that borks your machine, it's still their responsibility to fix the problem, regardless of the warranty status. This is also, in part, the basis of the class-action, which seeks to determine whether Sony are within their rights to remove features like OtheOS if they cause problems. And frankly, Georgie-boy can take a running jump if he thinks that after he made it possible to write Ps3 malware I'm going to boycott Sony in gratitude. Douche.

Avatar image for NoSoup4Me
NoSoup4Me

I hope sony doesnt start charging for psn because of this crap. Having to deal with guys like this , you know us the consumer will pay for it in the end. That's why I never agreed with this guy , attacking psn for his own agenda, that's called terrorism in my book. You dont get the people on your side by hurting them. This guy is a tool , I hope his mom kicks him out of her basement.

Avatar image for InnerSenses
InnerSenses

@Agent3sephiroth said: ""permanently enjoined and restrained from" a variety of activities. These include "engaging in any unauthorized access to any Sony product under the law" and violating any SCEA license agreement or terms of use agreement" Isn't this the case by default for all users? _____________________________________ Not exactly. If you look at the rest of the sentence you quoted, it says "...violating any SCEA license agreement or terms of use agreement "whether or not Hotz has accepted such agreement or terms of use."" Hotz claims he never actually agreed with any Sony terms of service, so this agreement is Sony's way of saying to him that whether he agreed to it or not, he is pretty much bound by it now.

Avatar image for Ivory-Dynamite
Ivory-Dynamite

So if you buy PS3 you don't own it.But if the warranty runs out then why should you pay for it to be fixed if Sony owns it by law ,double standards.Freedom will never be silent.

Avatar image for gamingfrendly
gamingfrendly

hotz dude if you keept it clean from the start this wasnt going to happen to you

Avatar image for Rekunta
Rekunta

George looks like he's had a little too much Coca-Cola.

Avatar image for MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

I have boycotted Sony products for years. this is all BS, most of you guys would be in trouble by now; --"Reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling any portion of [a] Sony Product." --"Using any tools to bypass, disable, or circumvent any encryption, security, or authentication mechanism in [a] Sony Product." --"Using any hardware or software to cause the Sony Product to accept or use unauthorized, illegal or pirated software or hardware." --"Exploiting any Sony Product to design, develop, update or distribute unauthorized software or hardware for use with [a] Sony Product." have a good read and think about it. most of you would be breaking Sony's law here. next time if your ps3 is not plugged into a Sony's branded Tv, you could be picking soap for a few months.

Avatar image for parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@spoonybard-hahs No... You see, your argument does not address his. He's saying the laws surrounding such services are hypocritical regardless of whether or not anyone actually gets music illegally from internet radio. You're arguing about whether or not people pirate music from internet radio, which has no actual bearing on the hypocrisy of these laws, and is therefore irrelevant. [URL=<< LINK REMOVED >>]There's a name for that.[/URL]

Avatar image for HeroKane
HeroKane

Hotz is 2 bit at best. Someone should drag him into an alley and beat him. As should be the fate of all online hack and cheats. Good bye Hotz, you will not be missed.

Avatar image for Ivory-Dynamite
Ivory-Dynamite

Clearly Sony did not want certain issues brought into the public domain.

Avatar image for crossbreed314
crossbreed314

Why did he ended up in court and not one of the many guys that made and sold dongles? or that was ok? in my opinion you should be able to make whatever you want with your console, you bought it, there are so many marketing strategies that affect us, consumers, so why shouldn't we affect big companies in any way? i do support piracy but with a custom firmware you can make more than just play pirated games. they removed the other os function because that was a door for hackers to make what hotz did, i have nothing against that, but why they removed the backwards compatibility? i fully support him and others that make exactly what he did.

Avatar image for dj_pulserfan
dj_pulserfan

Just to let all Hotz worshipers out there know, Hotz settled with Sony, not the other way around. What he did is far from similar to iPhone jailbreaking. This could have gone to federal court and dragged out for years on his case, sony could have set a few million aside and had this go on till the day he died if they wanted. But they've accomplished what they wanted. To scare people into thinking twice about hacking products they don't necessarily own.

Avatar image for luciferbelmont
luciferbelmont

Sony just ended this case so they can start going after Anonymous's Arse

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Heh, George Hotz should have highlighted the class-action lawsuit in the first place, instead of resorting to hacking. That was never a good solution. Still, I find it disappointing that he is highlighting that lawsuit out of spite at Sony. By the way, here's << LINK REMOVED >> started by Mr. Anthony Ventura.

Avatar image for Henninger
Henninger

Its not like he cant teach others how 2 do it. He has the knowledge & skill 2 do it. Some1 will prolly contact him & try 2 get the secrets from him. Either way nothing real came of this lawsuit. It wuz just a waste of time & money on Sony's part. Just tryin 2 b a bully thats all. Did they have a legitimate arguement? Yes. But wuz it necessary 2 take it that far. I dont think so. Its not like he's the only hacker in the world. & others most likely wont b detered by this case. So Sony, i suggest u have ur tech nerds get on their job & make a better security system. Cuz the other hackers r gonna continue 2 do wut they do regardless of the outcome of this case.

Avatar image for RadView
RadView

PS3 is the only Sony product id buy... the rest is overpriced brandname crap

Avatar image for TurambarGS
TurambarGS

What an idiot - he got off lightly and now he's mouthing off?

Avatar image for dashizy666
dashizy666

It is beyond me why anyone in the right mind would want to buy a $300 ps3 for hacking and modding purposes. the ps3's main function is to have fun sitting on your @$$, blasting fools in the melon, and eviserate a mythical greek god with the blades of chaos. The main issue I have trouble with is not what he did, its why he did it in the first place?

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

I think they are being nice to the guy really. They let him off easy, and he wants to dare them to bring their full wrath down on him. What an idiot. Where was he when the ps2 was in its prime with all its disk read errors and the like? Where was he with all the rrods from the 360? I think he's taking up the wrong cause. The ps3 is a good machine with a lot of great games. Leave Sony alone!!!

Avatar image for Agent3sephiroth
Agent3sephiroth

""permanently enjoined and restrained from" a variety of activities. These include "engaging in any unauthorized access to any Sony product under the law" and violating any SCEA license agreement or terms of use agreement" Isn't this the case by default for all users?

Avatar image for psx_warrior
psx_warrior

What the heck does "not above the law" mean? I think this guy is trying to reinterpret the law to fit his own illegal acts.

Avatar image for tachsniper
tachsniper

@spoonybard-hahs but isn't giving you a gift circumventing commerce? Is recording a song on the radio not circumventing commerce? You did not pay to obtain it. The company that produced that good has lost a sale by me giving the object to you. What difference does it make if i put it on a website? All it is is an opportunity to give the object to many different people for their personal use. Data is not a physical object, You may own the concept, you may own the setting and characters and what have you, but you cannot will not ever own data in and of itself. You bring up intent, do you know how the court of law establishes intent? If you ahve in your possession more then the alloted ammount that constatutes personal use therefore you must have intent to distribute. If i have 1 copy of a pirated video game in my possession it is not enough past the allotment for personal use so therefore i have no intention to distribute and personal use is legal, the burden of proof is on them to determine i obtained this item illegally. This is about exactly what @parrot_of_adun said " The point seems to be that it could be pirated that way, and such would be illegal, which demonstrates the illogical and problematic nature of modern copyright law." You agreed that my example is hypocritical so therefore we can infer that the majority of the law is hypocritical as well because it uses the same logic.

Avatar image for jackhole_88
jackhole_88

I don’t really understand how people can defend this guy, and calling Sony the bad guy. Hackers are scum because they kill the gaming experience. It’s so sad to because they have to have their little cheats so they can get on the leaderboard. I have stop playing so many games like halo, call of duty, wow and so many more because the playing field has change so much to the point where it’s not fun anymore. For the people that thinks this jackhole is right for what he did… don’t start cry when Sony starts making everyone paid to play online and take the free online out completely. So people when you are playing an shooter ( they are the most common game hit) and you notice that you shoot a person with more than 3 full clips and their energy bar does not move give thanks to the hacker that got away.

Avatar image for jackhole_88
jackhole_88

For the people that thinks this jackhole is right for what he did… don’t start cry when Sony starts making everyone paid to play online and take the free online out completely. So people when you are playing an shooter ( they are the most common game hit) and you notice that you shoot a person with more than 3 full clips and their energy bar does not move give thanks to the hacker that got away.

Avatar image for delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

Wow... I got thumbed down like I lost in the Coliseum in Rome... for questioning how one could possibly agree to future Terms of Service agreements. Like your freedoms, much? Because such an action is a slippery slope... imagine if you agreed to Sony's TOS once, and in little tiny text it says that you also agree to all future TOS's from Sony, no matter what changes?

Avatar image for spoonybard-hahs
spoonybard-hahs

@ parrroot_of_adun If you had read the sentence before that, I acknowledge as much. Tachsniper didn't argue it as a possibility to begin with, he was stating it as a fact. @ tachsniper The issue at hand is intent. It certainly is not illegal to give a gift to one or a few persons, even over the internet. When someone takes music - or any other medium - and posts it to a Web site so that anyone can take it, that's not a gift. That's someone circumventing commerce.

Avatar image for giga-puddi
giga-puddi

It's great that the hero has won.

Avatar image for BAD-C0MPANY
BAD-C0MPANY

I like how everyone makes fun of Geohot and hackers. Lets see what you say when all your banking information is stolen and your future forever faded in the mist. Hacking used for corruption? Sure, but it won't get any better if you keep doubting it and making fun of it. Sony lost, hackers won. Get over it. Perhaps if Sony wasn't such a crybaby they could of just accepted this and make something out of it. Do Microsoft and Nintendo make a big deal about piracy/hacking? No, not really and let's look at their system's sales compared to PS3...

Avatar image for parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@spoonybard-hahs - be pirated that way, and such would be illegal, which demonstrates the illogical and problematic nature of modern copyright law.

Avatar image for Dudeman315
Dudeman315

I already boycott all sony products after they tried to get away with hacking anyone who wanted to listen to an audio cd from their music division. link: << LINK REMOVED >> Not that I care if other people do buy Sony products I just won't give anyone I disagree with my business.

Avatar image for shani_boy101
shani_boy101

A boycott sounds brilliant, if it actually works then we would have no hackers on our systems for all time

Avatar image for tachsniper
tachsniper

@spoonybardhahs so we have determined that is IS hypocritical thank you, now using the same logic if i give you a CD, walk up to you and give it to you it is perfectly legal, now if you get that same CD from me over the internet that is illegal. so why is it that obtaining it one way without cost is fine but the other is illegal.