Judge lets Sony see identities of visitors to GeoHot's PS3 hacking site

By on March 6, 2011, 9:59 PM
Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero has awarded Sony a subpoena that allows the company to obtain the IP addresses of everyone who visited geohot.com, the personal website of PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz, also known as GeoHot, for the past 26 months (since January 2009). Furthermore, Sony's request for subpoenas on the account names of anyone who has accessed a PS3 jailbreak video on the 21-year-old's YouTube account, his tweets relating to the hacking on Twitter, information on people who posted comments to his blog on Blogspot, and information about his account on the PSX-Scene website, have all been granted, according to Wired.

As a result, Sony can now ask GeoHot's Web provider, Bluehost, for the IP addresses of visitors to his website who accessed or downloaded files from it. Court documents show that Sony rejected arguments submitted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that the requests were "overly broad" and violated GeoHot's rights to Free Speech. GeoHot has reportedly agreed not to oppose the subpoenas in exchange for Sony narrowing the scope of some of them.

Last month, Sony demanded that Google hand over the identities of those who have viewed or commented about the jailbreak video posted on YouTube. GeoHot posted the video on January 7, later made it private, and then pulled it on a judge's orders.

Sony's legal attacks against the hackers that released the PS3 root key and custom firmware began two months ago. 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. Sony is still threatening to sue anybody posting or distributing PS3 jailbreak code, despite the fact that the company accidentally tweeted the PlayStation 3 security key.

Sony's official stance is if you crack your PS3, you'll get banned. GeoHot meanwhile says "beating them in court is just a start."





User Comments: 73

Got something to say? Post a comment
Timonius Timonius said:

Sony is just being ridiculous. Have they nothing better to do with their time and money?

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Just because someone visited his site doesn't mean you can charge them with anything. A download list would be different but they could argue by downloading it there not breaking the law because the action of downloading it isn't breaking any laws especially ones regarding hacking ps3's however if they can prove you hacked your ps3 then it's a diff story. Sony is only angering the hackers who are updating and hacking the system more and more in revenge, good job Sony!

BunchOfPixels said:

Looks like Sony is the true criminal here.

Guest said:

Tor browser guys thats all I can say

Lurker101 said:

I've seen the code. I've watched the video. I own a PS3.

How long till I get hauled into court, do you reckon?

Guest said:

Great. Let me see what Sony will send to me. Maybe Sony will ask Techspot for my IP address? Techspot also reposted the key, lol.

Guest said:

What a joke.

We see your true colors, Sony.

Guest said:

Sony needs the information in order to create a list of people in the So Cal area. With an impressive enough number to the courts, it'll allow hotz to be tried in San Diego where sony has a larger chance of winning due to copyright laws. They also might use the list to get a potential list of ip's to to cross check with ps3's online to check for any funny buisness. It is also funny how blind you people are. If Sony does want the list to find more candidates to sue, geo hotz agreed to sell all of you out, as he didn't fight to protect any of your guys rights for visiting his site. I hope all of you who gave him money feel really stupid right about now.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Troll I called it first.

Guest said:

GeoHot is a criminal and needs to be in JAIL and needs to be made an example of.

aj_the_kidd said:

Guest said:

If sony does want the list to find more canadits to sue, geo hotz agreed to sell all of you out, as he didn't fight to protect any of your guys rights for visiting his site.

Source?

Guest said:

All Hackers should go to jail.

Guest said:

So let me get this right. Most of you feel it's OK for GeoHot to hack into a PS3?

Let's not stop there. Let the people who hack corporations and government agencies go free too.

Guest said:

This article, genius: "GeoHot has reportedly agreed not to oppose the subpoenas in exchange for Sony narrowing the scope of some of them."

aj_the_kidd said:

Guest said:

So let me get this right. Most of you feel it's OK for GeoHot to hack into a PS3?

Let's not stop there. Lets let the people who hack corporations and government agencies go free too. You're all a bunch of uneducated ****** who should have your PC's hacked!

Hacking a PS3 and hacking government agencies are on completely different levels.

Guest said:

Hacking is Hacking. Period. The principles are the same. Hacking is NOT hard to learn.

Of course, the AJ-Kidd wouldn't know that.

Guest said:

Down with sony. Geohot we believe in you! Take those corporate bastards down!

Guest said:

I was going to buy one but not now, eat me sony

Guest said:

I think they like the pot they're getting recently.

Guest said:

So according to you we also can infer that killing is killing and even self defense should be a punished.

Your are just talking nonsense

Guest said:

Read the article aj? maybe read any article on the matter? they all report agreed to let sony have the information.

Guest said:

it is a very happy bright sunny day in Sonyville, long live Sony and its products.

Guest said:

Agreed, use Tor.

Guest said:

My next video game machine will be a Microsoft box. Screw sony. And no I didn't hack my PS3, but Sony has a long history of abuse to consumers. It's my PS3 I should be able to do whatever I want to it. Hack someone else's machine is a totally different matter of morality, and is wrong. For the people who can't see the difference, you need to go get your IQ checked, you're can probably get government entitlements for being mentally handicapped.

Guest said:

It's no more hacking than finding a key in a door is picking a lock. Buy or rent the games cheapskates.

If you want to modify your PS3 to be a linux workstation it is your right, you own the hardware, but don't expect Sony to let you use their intellectual property (software) to run cracked games. Try looking at both sides of the argument for a change. I understand games shouldn't cost $60, but they do eventually cost $20 after a year or two. You don't have to own the games right away.

Guest said:

Land of milk and honey... So funny!

Guest said:

Are you kidding? If someone pays $300 for something, they should be allowed to modify it anyway they see fit. Only an absolute fool would ever cross cracking a PS3 with hacking a government institution.

Guest said:

I totally agree on that. I can hack, destroy or set fire to my own ps3. I can do with my own machine as I wash so long as it doesn't hurt anybody. And nobody deserves to be punished for manipulating their own property.

mosu said:

In the end the judge will rule that you don't own the PS3 you payed for!!!

ramonsterns said:

Guest said:

All Hackers should go to jail.

All ****** should be put to death.

Totally not prejudice and ignorant, right?

Guest said:

You people need to realize the guy, whom I'm sure was trolling the other similar articles on the same topic, is trolling. The second you throw any ounce of logic in his diection he'll half attempt a reflute or plain ignore it. Please, do not feed trolls.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

A lot of troll guests here tonight on TechSpot spouting nonsense. Anyway to me it seems like Sony is wanting to go all in with this and they are either going to win big or lose hard.

nismo91 said:

trolling guests are worried Sony caught their IP addresses and blame TechSpot for publishing it. bunch of douchebags.

Guest said:

I think this kind of hacking is fine. I also condone piracy since it's nothing more than SHARING.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Sony has the right to protect their products. That being said :

1. They aren't gonna make a dime off this kid and they are spending millions trying him. That is kinda idiotic.

2. Most of the people pissed about this are whining and crying about hacking online games. I see people complaining about aimbots and the such. Just face it..you suck at first person shooters. Heres an idea..dont play with people who are hacking the game, play with people on your friends lists.

3. Piracy is not driving up the price of your game, its plain and simple greed. Even if piracy did not exist, game companies would have other excuses to raise the price. You don't see the auto makers complaining about auto theft and raising their prices do you? People steal gasoline all the time but that has no bearing on oil prices. Get over it

4. Sony should just hire this kid. He's obviously smarter than the people at Sony. They would spend a hellava lot less money employing him than trying to sue him just so they stroke their corporate peener.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Guest said:

All Hackers should go to jail.

Please note that there is a difference between hackers and crackers. True hackers don't harm people whether it being physically, mentally or financially. I would agree with this guest, provided he/she changes hackers to crackers, as those are the real culprits.

Guest said:

I'll never buy Sony again. Another example of a big business protecting its name for its own profit than the sake of a 'consumer'

Guest said:

Dont worry, the money spends on putting this dude in jail, the more hackers are going to screw with sony, SWEET FREE GAMES, thx sony

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

Are you kidding? If someone pays $300 for something, they should be allowed to modify it anyway they see fit. Only an absolute fool would ever cross cracking a PS3 with hacking a government institution.

So I assume you hate ALL of Apple's software locked products then as well. Hope you don't own an ipod, or an ipad, or an iphone. But you probably do, which doesn't help your position, since you are supporting a company that feels the same way as Sony does about their product (just more discreet about handling things).

yRaz yRaz said:

wtf is with all these trolling guests? This isn't about hacking anymore, it's about losing our rights. If sony can walk all over us like this, what's stopping other people from doing it? what if this becomes the norm? Geohotz needs to win, I sent him money. God bless America, home of the corporation.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

So let me get this right. Most of you feel it's OK for GeoHot to hack into a PS3?

Let's not stop there. Let the people who hack corporations and government agencies go free too.

Prime example of the typical ignorance in general where this story is concerned.

Hacking a console that you PURCHASED to be able to get the most out of what you paid good money for is one thing. Hacking networks of government agencies is totally and completely different. Try to at least make relevant points when trolling.

Oh, and hey, let's use your logic and go the other way. Why stop at throwing the book at PS3 unlockers? We should lock everyone who overclocks their PCs or mods them in any way. I mean, just because they paid for the hardware, that doesn't give them any rights to do what they want with their systems, right?

Guest said:

Well, the reason there are so many of us anonymous "trolls" as one person puts it, is because this site was at the top of Google News for a while.

I agree that Sony's tactics are deplorable, but I understand why they did it after finding their 2010 financial report. Gaming is pretty much the only thing holding their company together. http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/IR/financial/fr/index.html . They are (overly)-aggressive in protecting the one thing keeping 167,000 employees working. They are scared that if they don't protect the gaming portion of their business that they will go under eventually. Corporations are not invincible monsters. They keep people in their houses, clothes, and provide dinners for many families, which in turn supports other areas of business. They employee people all over the world, not just Japan.

Everything isn't as black and white.

dedparrot said:

Major corporations have people on the payroll to drown out the opinion of other people on forums and other websites.

This is probably one of these cases.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

Well, the reason there are so many of us anonymous "trolls" as one person puts it, is because this site was at the top of Google News for a while.

I agree that Sony's tactics are deplorable, but I understand why they did it after finding their 2010 financial report. Gaming is pretty much the only thing holding their company together. [link] . They are (overly)-aggressive in protecting the one thing keeping 167,000 employees working. They are scared that if they don't protect the gaming portion of their business that they will go under eventually. Corporations are not invincible monsters. They keep people in their houses, clothes, and provide dinners for many families, which in turn supports other areas of business. They employee people all over the world, not just Japan.

Everything isn't as black and white.

Sony is spending loads on this case, surely if gaming is the only thing holding them together they should, I don't know, lower the price on their computers maybe? or spend the money getting Geo and actually hire him to improve security rather than sue the crap out of him? Seriously, Sony may be trying to protect the one thing that brings in profit, but they have gone about it in such a horrid and extremely ignorant way they deserve to go into financial crysis. As someone above me said, this is more about what rights we have with our products that we purchased with our hard earned cash than Sony trying to stop a possible flaw for piracy on one of their products. To be fair, your the most logical troll so far

Guest said:

Seems to me most of U all here with your anti-SONY debacles are for the thief Geo...! Well, SONY will not stop until he goes down, along with his friends. It's a shame to see these comments supporting piracy yet you'all the same ones upset over PC games being pirated. Such hypocrisy!!

Guest said:

Uh, I think his source is the article we are commenting on. "GeoHot has reportedly agreed not to oppose the subpoenas"

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

Uh, I think his source is the article we are commenting on. "GeoHot has reportedly agreed not to oppose the subpoenas"

Yeah, I didn't like that part. First he asks people for money, then he apparently sends them all up the river.

I'm pretty sure that if he lifted a finger to oppose this overtly broad request, he'd have a good chance of defeating it, the IFF would probably get him a lawyer for that part for sure. Even if they lost, they'd have a good chance of an appeal. But if he chooses not to contest it, then the info will just be given over.

I really don't care about the playstation key, but I do care about legal precedent in my IP address being pulled from a web site.

I think GeoHot folded, and now he's just minimizing the damage to himself while Sony sets legal precedent.

To everyone talking about costs, Sony doesn't want money, they want legal precedent. Legal precedent is worth far more than whatever money they get here.

yRaz yRaz said:

Guest said:

Seems to me most of U all here with your anti-SONY debacles are for the thief Geo...! Well, SONY will not stop until he goes down, along with his friends. It's a shame to see these comments supporting piracy yet you'all the same ones upset over PC games being pirated. Such hypocrisy!!

I really don't know what to say to the comment. No one here is supporting piracy. What sony is doing should be illegal, it might even be illegal. SONY doesn't give a damn about you, why should you care about them? They want to treat everyone who even viewed the key like a criminal. I hope sony goes under.

TrekExpert TrekExpert said:

Guest said:

Seems to me most of U all here with your anti-SONY debacles are for the thief Geo...! Well, SONY will not stop until he goes down, along with his friends. It's a shame to see these comments supporting piracy yet you'all the same ones upset over PC games being pirated. Such hypocrisy!!

Supporting GeoHot's work isn't anywhere close to piracy. His hack simply means that you can unlock your PS3 to do what ever you want with it. Whether it be to run a different operating system or run your own applications there are many legal uses for this hack. Of course there is also the ability to run pirated games but you can not charge some one for having the ability to do something. That would be like saying that Sony is going to sue my because my computer is capable of downloading illegal content. It just doesn't make sense so what Sony is doing is wrong.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

"To everyone talking about costs, Sony doesn't want money, they want legal precedent. Legal precedent is worth far more than whatever money they get here. "

Exactly. If they set this precedent, a whole new world is going to open up to other industries.

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