PS3 hacker's lawyers fire back at Sony

The jailbreaker's lawyers take aim at Sony Computer Entertainment of America, saying the U.S. subsidiary has no proof their client violated Sony's EULA--or even that it has any claim to the PS3.

Round, um, 7? 8? Fight! Matt Hickey/CNET

Things are getting even more interesting in one of the biggest jailbreaking cases currently in the courts . Stewart Kellar and his team of attorneys for George Hotz (aka GeoHot), on Friday filed a motion (PDF from Grocklaw) to dismiss Sony Computer Entertainment of America's suit against their client --for a few reasons:

First up, they object to SCEA's attempts to establish jurisdiction of the case in Northern California. Hotz lives and works in New Jersey, and, as an individual and not a corporation, really doesn't have the cash on hand to traverse the country defending himself in a district court on the other coast.

SCEA claims (PDF) that some of the people who jailbroke their PS3s lived in Northern California and thus, it should be where the case is tried. Hotz's lawyers argue that this is an effort to stack the deck in SCEA's favor, as the U.S. District Court of Northern California has historically sided with technology companies over individuals.

On top of that, Hotz's lawyers argue that Hotz (and his fellow hackers) were working on the PS3, which is made and distributed by Sony of Japan. SCEA does not make or sell the PS3, they allege. The SCEA runs the PlayStation Network, or PSN. While they're both under the corporate umbrella of Sony, they're distinct legal entities. SCEA doesn't represent Sony Japan, or its consoles, the lawyers contend in the court filing.

SCEA maintains the suit is valid because Hotz logged on to the PSN under the user name "blockmanic." However, Hotz's team points out that there's allegedly no evidence blickmanic is Hotz. In fact, the machine that blickmanic used has a different serial number than any of the machines Hotz presented to the court, the filing says.

What's more, according to the court document, Hotz's team has found evidence on who blickmanic might be--and that person allegedly is not Hotz. They argue that there's no evidence that Hotz ever logged into PSN with a jailbroken PS3, which would be a violation of the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). In fact, they argue, there's no evidence Hotz ever accepted the PSN EULA at all--in fact, the EULA is part of the manuals that come with the PS3, and Hotz's were still sealed. If he didn't accept the agreement, his team says, then he couldn't possibly be in violation of it.

All of this, Hotz's side says, amounts to SCEA's lawyers overstepping the bounds of the discovery process and, thus, the case should be totally dismissed. But don't look for this to be over anytime soon. Sony, as a giant corporation, has more expensive lawyers at its disposal, so we're likely not done with this one.

We've e-mailed SCEA for comment on the latest filing, but it did not immediately respond.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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