GeoHot must give Sony his hardware in PS3 hacking lawsuit

By on February 11, 2011, 2:54 PM
US District Judge Susan Illston has ruled that PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz, also known as GeoHot, must hand over his computer's hard drive to Sony. GeoHot's attorney, Stewart Kellar, objected since Sony would be able to see the contents of all his client's files, but Illston merely informed Kellar that this was routine, like in child pornography prosecutions.

"Your honor, we're certainly not dealing with child pornography in this issue," Kellar replied according to Wired. Illston did not change her mind. "Here, I find probable cause that your client has got these things on his computer," she said. "It's a problem when more than one thing is kept on the computer. I'll make sure the order is and will be that Sony is only entitled to isolate the information on the computer that relates to the hacking of the PlayStation."

On the flipside, the judge changed her mind about an order for GeoHot to "retrieve" the code from anyone he delivered or communicated it to, changing her mind because she was not previously aware of all the details. "It's information. It can't be retrieved. It's just not practical," Illston said. "What would they do, Xerox it and mail it back? This kind of got away from me and I apologize for that."

Late last month, Ilston had originally ruled that the 21-year-old surrender "any and all computer hardware and peripherals containing circumvention devices, technologies, programs, parts thereof, or other unlawful material, including but not limited to code and software, hard disc drives, computer software, inventory of CD-ROMS, computer diskettes, or other material containing circumvention devices, technologies, programs, parts thereof, or other unlawful material." She also said the defendant "shall retrieve" code "which he has previously delivered or communicated" and gave GeoHot just 10 days to comply.

Kellar fought back for his client, and although he couldn't stop Sony from getting the 21-year-old's hardware, he did manage to gain more time and convince the judge that the retrieval part was impossible.

In the bigger scheme of things, Sony is still threatening to sue anybody posting or distributing PS3 jailbreak code. The electronics giant is demanding that a federal judge order Google and Twitter to surrender details of anyone who looks at the illegal content. This is despite the fact that Sony accidentally tweeted the PlayStation 3 security key earlier this week. A hearing for that is scheduled next month and Sony is seeking unspecified damages.

Sony's legal attacks against the hackers that released the PS3 root key and custom firmware began last month. The group known as fail0verflow is accused of posting a rudimentary hack in December 2010 after finding security codes for the PS3. It was refined by GeoHot weeks later when he independently found and published the PS3 root key. The resulting hacks allow homebrew apps and pirated software to run on unmodified consoles.





User Comments: 33

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Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Guest said:

More evidence that Sony is evil. What it all boils down to now is that when you buy electronic device, you don't own it! It shouldn't be a crime for you to access your own device, regardless of whether Sony or any other company likes what you're doing! I quit buying Sony products in 2005.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Of course. But how can they tell if any data was removed or not, if they don't know the contents of his computer in the first place? If they did know, handing over the computer seems the perfect example of stupidity, futility, and redundancy.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

On the bright side I hear there is a new VP position open at Sony.

OUTLAWXXX said:

Lawfer said:

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Of course. But how can they tell if any data was removed or not, if they don't know the contents of his computer in the first place? If they did know, handing over the computer seems the perfect example of stupidity, futility, and redundancy.

Thats what i'm saying, how WOULD they know what was missing?

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Lawfer said:

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Of course. But how can they tell if any data was removed or not, if they don't know the contents of his computer in the first place? If they did know, handing over the computer seems the perfect example of stupidity, futility, and redundancy.

They can trace your hardrive back to 14 wipes I think it is. So if they don't find anything, their tech specialists can just do their magic and find it. And if they have to do that, then obviously he's touched the computer, which is against court order, which leads to contempt of court which leads to more fines and possibly jail time.

I'm not even sure what they plan to gain from this. They know he distributed the code, why do they need it from his computer? All he has to do is print it out and now he has a copy that nobody will be able to find. And as for Sony wanting anyone who has looked at the code to be turned over...you;ve got to be kidding me. I've seen the code multiple times and I don't even have a PS3. You still wanna sue me? Where is the legality in this?

gwailo247 said:

On the bright side I hear there is a new VP position open at Sony

No, there isn't!!! Are people not paying attention to the articles? He's a CHARACTER on the sony commercials. He only plays the VP. The first line of that article even said so:

"Sony's Kevin Butler, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER PORTRAYED BY ACTOR JERRY LAMBERT..."

Seriously people, how hard is it to pay attention to a damn article (sorry, I have no patience for people like that, lol)

Guest said:

Dear Sony Corp:

The genie has been let out of the bottle and now you want to stuff it back in.

I think is too late for that

We the people have gazed upon the magnificent view of the the all seeing all knowing all hacking genie

Every cheater and hacker out there is just drooling.

If every hacking site in the world already knows about it it will be decades before you get that genie back in the bottle and even then you may not have all the parts

I say do this take your losses and your knowledge and put it into a redevelop PS4 an all new game console and shut down all PS3 sales and do not support any game development thus foiling all hackes

You should still sue the guy who did this and put him and a few of his hacker friends into the poor house to try and recuperate some of your losses

but it is too late

sorry

a PC user

Guest said:

I would refuse. That's like saying to someone "You have an illegal fork from Walmart so hand over your house to Walmart".

No offence to the judge in question who was ordered to take this case but don't you think they should have a judge that has "some" level of expertise in the computer field?

It's like asking an Orange to judge an Asteroid. Good luck getting any fairness out of this case.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

I would refuse. That's like saying to someone "You have an illegal fork from Walmart so hand over your house to Walmart".

BIG difference. The court has every right to search his computer. His computer contains illegal information used for illegal activity. This means the court has every right to take his computer. Either that or he can let them in and spend hours there searching his computer and doing what they need to do.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

matrix86 said:

gwailo247 said:

On the bright side I hear there is a new VP position open at Sony

No, there isn't!!! Are people not paying attention to the articles? He's a CHARACTER on the sony commercials. He only plays the VP. The first line of that article even said so:

"Sony's Kevin Butler, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER PORTRAYED BY ACTOR JERRY LAMBERT..."

Seriously people, how hard is it to pay attention to a damn article (sorry, I have no patience for people like that, lol)

What article?

Emil said:

gwailo247 said:

matrix86 said:

gwailo247 said:

On the bright side I hear there is a new VP position open at Sony

No, there isn't!!! Are people not paying attention to the articles? He's a CHARACTER on the sony commercials. He only plays the VP. The first line of that article even said so:

"Sony's Kevin Butler, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER PORTRAYED BY ACTOR JERRY LAMBERT..."

Seriously people, how hard is it to pay attention to a damn article (sorry, I have no patience for people like that, lol)

What article?

[link]

Cota Cota said:

Guest said:

Dear Sony Corp:

The genie has been let out of the bottle and now you want to stuff it back in.

I think is too late for that

We the people have gazed upon the magnificent view of the the all seeing all knowing all hacking genie

Every cheater and hacker out there is just drooling.

If every hacking site in the world already knows about it it will be decades before you get that genie back in the bottle and even then you may not have all the parts

I say do this take your losses and your knowledge and put it into a redevelop PS4 an all new game console and shut down all PS3 sales and do not support any game development thus foiling all hackes

You should still sue the guy who did this and put him and a few of his hacker friends into the poor house to try and recuperate some of your losses

but it is too late

sorry

a PC user

There are some things you cant/should be able to do, just because i have a gun i cant kill they guy i hate, hacking the PS3 is the same, accept it that theres hacks that shouldn't be allowed.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Thanks Emil. Forgot to post it.

Guest said:

its about time companies start kicking pirates asses, they get away with too much and act like their crap doesnt stink

Guest said:

I'm not a gamer I don't own a console I don't even care, I just find it revolting that a company can tell you want you can and can not do, with hardware you OWN. IN truth every single person should be revolted about this and hold a protest not for what it is but what it could mean in the future. Would you be happy if when you bought a truck out right fully paid it off and then were given a fine and told to return the truck for adding some extra gear for 4-wheeling when the truck manufactures only "Wanted" that model to be used for towing.[Even though you 100% paid it off and hold a title.] Just think for the moment the madness of not being able to touch what you own how you want to. Maybe HP will start suing people for using CIS's instead of buying ink cartages, or logitech will sue people for using 3rd party button mapping tools for there keyboards and mice. This list of madness can go to far more disturbing places.

Lurker101 said:

OUTLAWXXX said:

Lawfer said:

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Of course. But how can they tell if any data was removed or not, if they don't know the contents of his computer in the first place? If they did know, handing over the computer seems the perfect example of stupidity, futility, and redundancy.

Thats what i'm saying, how WOULD they know what was missing?

You'd be seriously surprised at just how much deleted data can be retrieved from a hard drive. If Hotz tries to delete all of the data, he'll be in much bigger trouble. Even if he does a secure drive wipe, he'll end up in trouble. After all, how do you explain to tech forensics the severe lack of deleted data?

edison5do said:

And now the Show Begins!! SONY PS3 SALE RANK UP to the skyes!! after if this kind code get to my country, it wil be a big Bang of sales of PS3!

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

matrix86 said:

Guest said:

I would refuse. That's like saying to someone "You have an illegal fork from Walmart so hand over your house to Walmart".

BIG difference. The court has every right to search his computer. His computer contains illegal information used for illegal activity. This means the court has every right to take his computer. Either that or he can let them in and spend hours there searching his computer and doing what they need to do.

"Illegal information used for illegal activity"

What illegal information/activity? Last I heard, violating TOS didn't equate to being against the law. I'm no attorney, but I see this as a 'freedom of information' case. It's also a case of whether the products you purchase belong to you or not. Hotz distributed information that he found on "HIS" PS3, and someone at Sony had a heart attack. Hotz can't be held responsible for what other people do with that information.

Raswan Raswan said:

Lurker101 said:

OUTLAWXXX said:

Lawfer said:

Emil said:

Guest said:

Can't he just simply delete the data before his hard drive is seized???

No, the judge has ordered him not to touch any of the data on his computer before handing it over.

Of course. But how can they tell if any data was removed or not, if they don't know the contents of his computer in the first place? If they did know, handing over the computer seems the perfect example of stupidity, futility, and redundancy.

Thats what i'm saying, how WOULD they know what was missing?

You'd be seriously surprised at just how much deleted data can be retrieved from a hard drive. If Hotz tries to delete all of the data, he'll be in much bigger trouble. Even if he does a secure drive wipe, he'll end up in trouble. After all, how do you explain to tech forensics the severe lack of deleted data?

Last time I checked, there are any number of legal programs that will do 30 writes/wipes of your hdd. Universities use them, the DoD uses them, corporations use them. I'm not a master of computer espionage, but I imagine if geohotz is capable of independently finding the root key he knows this, has this, and will use this. Say Sony gets his computers, and aside from an OS and a parody video of Sony with its eyes closed in fury trying to sodomize the whole internet out of petulance while one of its own accidentally lets slip the very data they are trying to protect out of sheer stupidity, there is nothing on them. How can they prove he wasn't practicing routine data security 10 minutes before the lawsuit was filed? Can't. So let's stop debating whether Sony is actually going to get any data back from geohotz. They know they won't, so they're using it as an opportunity to scare anyone and everyone who even thinks about using it. If I owned a PS3 (which I don't because it's a pointless console), I'd use it out of spite.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Wendig0 said:

What illegal information/activity? Last I heard, violating TOS didn't equate to being against the law. I'm no attorney, but I see this as a 'freedom of information' case. It's also a case of whether the products you purchase belong to you or not. Hotz distributed information that he found on "HIS" PS3, and someone at Sony had a heart attack. Hotz can't be held responsible for what other people do with that information.

Hacking is illegal, and any code used for hacking is illegal. I'm on the border of this dispute. Hotz didn't intend for this to be used for evil, but it can be and he distributed it. It's not the same as buying a knife or gun. Sure the makers didn't intend on them being used as murder weapons, but they aren't against the law to own. Whereas creating and distributing dangerous code used for hacking is against the law. I do applaud Hotz for trying to make his system his own. Unfortunately, his code allows for people to cheat and do other things that threaten the security of others' systems.

This is how Sony and the law sees this situation. It's not so much about taking control of your own system, but more about the dangerous this code can (and will) lead to.

Guest said:

Matrix displays a toddlers comprehension of law. Best that he spend some time back in school rather than posting FUDI comments.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

matrix86 said:

Hacking is illegal, and any code used for hacking is illegal. I'm on the border of this dispute. Hotz didn't intend for this to be used for evil, but it can be and he distributed it. It's not the same as buying a knife or gun. Sure the makers didn't intend on them being used as murder weapons, but they aren't against the law to own. Whereas creating and distributing dangerous code used for hacking is against the law. I do applaud Hotz for trying to make his system his own. Unfortunately, his code allows for people to cheat and do other things that threaten the security of others' systems.

This is how Sony and the law sees this situation. It's not so much about taking control of your own system, but more about the dangerous this code can (and will) lead to.

(http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/computer-hacking) Computer hacking is broadly defined as intentionally accesses [sic] a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access.

By the legal definition, I don't believe Hotz can be found guilty of hacking, as he owned the system he got the code from. Since jailbreaking was declared legal in the US, I'm having a tough time discerning the difference between hacking and jailbreaking, and if jailbreaking only applies to phones, or does it apply to other electronic devices as well? If simply gaining root to a system you own, and telling others how to gain root to their's is illegal, then software developers, and their teachers should all be brought to the pokey in irons.

This is new territory for the legal system, and unless Sony can prove that George Hotz distributed the code with the intent to maliciously threaten the security of other's systems, then I see no case against him.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Guest said:

Matrix displays a toddlers comprehension of law. Best that he spend some time back in school rather than posting FUDI comments.

Well excuse me for not going to law school. They don't exactly teach that kind of stuff in regular schools. I was a music major...my classes involved music, math, english composition, and history. And they don't teach law in high school. Simply pointing out my error would have sufficed instead of turning into a 3 year old with a comment like yours. We're adults here, let's act like them shall we?

Windig0, thank you for pointing out my error and correcting me in a mature manner and supplying me with the correct information. I appreciate it and apologize for my previous error.

Tanstar said:

matrix86 said:

Guest said:

I would refuse. That's like saying to someone "You have an illegal fork from Walmart so hand over your house to Walmart".

BIG difference. The court has every right to search his computer. His computer contains illegal information used for illegal activity. This means the court has every right to take his computer. Either that or he can let them in and spend hours there searching his computer and doing what they need to do.

I'd be okay if the court took his computer for outside experts to check for the code. Forcing him to give it to the company accusing him?

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

sorry for interrupting, but i still find it hard that some, which i even thought were mature enough to understand do come up with reasons even 12 year old kids would be ashamed of.... again it's not toward everyone ...

1st - GeoHotz didn't do something illegal according to law when he fiddled with the codes, but something against the TOS protected under other laws about protecting patent, copyright & against reverse engineering.

2nd - You always own the material, not the concept, the design or anything already filed by a company, an author or a publisher. Anyone not understanding this, i wish that some day you become an artist, an inventor or a publisher & see people ab-using your creations without your consent & where you don't get anything out of it or just see someone stealing your ideas to create variations that sell better than yours & for cheaper.

3rd - Jailbreaking some mobile phones is legal in some parts of the world, not everywhere & this has never been said to apply to bigger machines, like gaming consoles. if you have proof, please do post a link & i apologize.

4th - The knife vs gun analogy: Knife created not necessarily to commit murder, gun created mainly to kill! GeoHotz case: gun analogy applied, why!? : if he's a 'hacker' or 'researcher' he must know what can be done & even if it looks more to the knife analogy, he didn't release the code for homebrewers, he did so to show off & like any immature decision, caused chaos in some zones. he released it to the world with the intentions of the world being his storage media & have his names all over the media, well he succeeded but now ask those gamers who had to face hacked sessions if they are happy, ask the developers if they want to push up their work.

GeoHotz should give his PC but i'm not sure how this can really help SONY or any other companies having same problems. Legally, GeoHotz should be forced to penal servitude in the anti-hacking world & find way to counter attack those who are already using his job to commit a 'crime' against gamers.

KB is still our fav Virtual VP :P ... he is just human & to be human is to err !!! ... SONY should still be careful about social networking communications.

No one reads entirely the TOS, we also often go against them, but we are not forced to steal each & every game out there, spoil the gameplay of others, pester companies & think we can get away with it.

Those who think a platform is better that others, has no idea what gaming is & either can't afford the other ones or are just ignorant, real gamers know that each platform has something different & interesting to bring, so even if this isn't the debate & people can have an opinion, it is just stupid to state that sugar is sour to the world because i don't like it while the majority have a common opinion, i could say, i can't taste sweetness, will sound true & mature.

Now let's get back playing on our fav platforms, I play on PC & PS3 & absolutely loving both & i just hate people spoiling my gameplay & lame ignorant comments, that's my opinion, what's yours !?

cheers!

Guest said:

I personally see nothing wrong with what geohot or other "hackers" have done to consoles,

what is wrong with spreading information about how things work?

now with SONY seizing his hardware seems a bit odd since they are a biased party in the trial and a third party should be doing the checking of said hardware or else it isn't a truely fair trail since who is stopping sony from implanting false infromation just to get their way? Hopefully the court made Ghost copies of his HDDs and documented all the hardware prior to letting SONY do their search. Thus Sony can not force their way.

I'm sick of Corporations locking down information because they don't want people find free alteritives... but thank god for the GPL

aj_the_kidd said:

The resulting hacks allow homebrew apps and pirated software to run on unmodified consoles.

To think this all came about after Sony took away functionality that GeoHotz wanted, functionality which i believe was available when he bought the console and now its come to this, its a shame really.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

aj_the_kidd said:

The resulting hacks allow homebrew apps and pirated software to run on unmodified consoles.

To think this all came about after Sony took away functionality that GeoHotz wanted, functionality which i believe was available when he bought the console and now its come to this, its a shame really.

functionality SONY removed because of him in the 1st place.

I'm not against someone doing research, but having the power to do great things will always be cut short when compared to same being stupid enough to go against the law & morality.

If GeoHotz did hacked the console to do anything he wanted & showed only videos of what he achieved, would have made him a respected researcher / hacker, but no ... he was lame enough to publish it to the world, now he must accept the consequences & all those who did same will have to pay.

we must stop being hypocrite by saying games are expensive, consoles are bad, hackers do right, businesses are greedy ... for in the end we are all greedy businesses wanting more things for cheap or free & wanting our competitors to fall while our own items on sale could be overpriced or highly justified high price. If we don't like, we don't buy, if it is a multi-million project that's worth a 10 hours playing, we do buy it & don't compare to 50 hours games of yester-decade ... they may be great games, but there's nothing comparable in the work done.

In the end, the real losers are you & me, the legit owners, the loyal supporters for when there is a war, there is always a collateral damage & hackers are so irresponsible that they deserve the pyre ...

oh btw, happy valentine's day ! :P

cheers!

Guest said:

I never liked Sony, their speakers are crap, their TVs are ok-- nothing to brag about, and their car audio is worse than PYLE, it's no surprise they'd pull something as if its like a public hanging (of geohot) and have him surrender all his data. Hopefully he had enough time to do a Boot n' Nuke on the machines. Unfortunately for Sony, they have lost a lot of respect and I think they should've just let this go... oh well ANONYMOUS should hit Sony up and release some docs

Guest said:

This man should be offered a job for Sony. If he is only 21 and much smarter than the rest of tehre company by finding these exploits they may want to seek having him prevent this from happening in the future.

Seems like these big companies are jealous of the youth in america that can out smart them much faster than it took them to create what is so called a "great product". Stop punishing people for being smarter than you but instead reward them for finding something your company failed at doing so in the first place.

aj_the_kidd said:

Richy2k9 said:

functionality SONY removed because of him in the 1st place.

Source please?

Guest said:

This man should be offered a job for Sony.

Probably would have been the best option in retrospect but both parties have dug themselves into a hole so its not gonna happen

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thanks Emil. Forgot to post it.

Have you considered the fact that I was aware that he was an actor, and made the post anyway?

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