Geohot speaks out on PS3 jailbreak legal battle

Famed hacker George Hotz, better known as Geohot, has finally spoken out about Sony's recent decision to file a restraining order against him for allegedly hacking the PlayStation 3.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

After being hit with a restraining order from Sony earlier this week for allegedly bypassing "effective technological protective measures" in PlayStation 3 firmware 3.55, iPhone hacker George Hotz, better known as "Geohot," has decided it's time to stand up to the tech giant.

"Right now, still legally, you can go to my Web site and download my jailbreak for your PS3," Hotz said in an interview with G4TV's Attack of the Show last night. "And what it lets you do is install home-brew applications."

Sony won't be happy to hear that. The company said in its court filing that by offering the jailbreak to others, Hotz has "trafficked in circumvention technology, products, services, methods, codes, software tools, [and] devices." The company believes the jailbreak will "enable use or playing of illegal copies of PlayStation 3 video games on the PS3 system."

That's a claim that Hotz denies.

"Actually, no," Hotz said in response to a question asking if his jailbreak allows users to run pirated games on the console. "The way piracy was previously done doesn't work in my jailbreak. And I made a specific effort while I was working on this to try and enable home-brewing without enabling things I don't support, like piracy."

Hotz then turned his attention to Sony's claim that his jailbreak violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The far-reaching act currently allows mobile phone owners to jailbreak their devices without fear of recourse. However, it doesn't specifically mention other devices.

"I think the same precedent should apply," Hotz said. "If you can jailbreak one closed system, why can't you jailbreak another?"

Sony evidently fails to see the logic in Hotz's argument. The company asked the court to impound any circumvention technology Hotz and his team used to jailbreak the PlayStation 3. In addition, Sony has requested Hotz take down mention of the jailbreak from the Internet and not help anyone to further hack the device going forward.

Sony's decision to release a restraining order is just the latest move on the company's part to battle PlayStation 3 hackers that took issue with its announcement in March that it was removing the "Other OS" feature from its console. Sony said at the time that its decision to remove "Other OS," which allows PlayStation 3 owners to run other operating systems on the console, was based on its desire to make the platform "a more secure system."

Subsequently, Sony found itself battling with hackers who continued to find ways around the console's security features. In August, hackers offered up a tool called PS Jailbreak that allowed users to play games on the PlayStation 3 from the device's hard drive or an external storage device. Sony was able to stop sales of the hack in Australia later that month.

But that failed to quell the unrest. The subject of Sony's restraining order against Hotz, firmware version 3.55, included a security update that patched holes hackers were exploiting.

For his part, Hotz doesn't believe that the act of circumventing the PlayStation 3's security features caused him to get hit with a restraining order. He said on Attack of the Show that he is feeling the wrath of Sony's legal team because he did one thing wrong: "making Sony mad."