PS3 jailbreak prompts restraining order from Sony

Legal action targets hacker "Geohot" and others, alleging they bypassed a PlayStation 3 firmware update after the game company removed the "Other OS" option from its console.

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
2 min read

Sony yesterday filed a restraining order against well-known iPhone hacker George Hotz, known as "Geohot," and other individuals for allegedly bypassing "effective technological protective measures" in PlayStation 3 firmware version 3.55.

The recently released jailbreak for firmware version 3.55 allows PlayStation 3 owners to run custom packages on the console. Geohot's ultimate goal is to bring back the "Other OS" option that was removed from the PlayStation 3 last year.

Sony's restraining order attempts to stop Geohot from offering the jailbreak. The company claims that the jailbreak violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud Abuse Act. The court filing says that Geohot allegedly "trafficked in circumvention technology, products, services, methods, codes, software tools, [and] devices." Sony is especially concerned that the jailbreak will "enable use or playing of illegal copies of PlayStation 3 video games on the PS3 system."

Sony is seeking the impoundment within the next 10 days of all circumvention technology that Hotz and his team employ. It also wants all mention of the circumvention removed from the Web, and has asked the court to force Hotz to ignore calls for help from others attempting to install packages on the console.

For his part, Hotz has remained relatively tight-lipped in the face of the legal action. He has changed his home page to include only PDF links to Sony's complaint.

Sony's battle with hackers started in earnest last March when the company announced the removal of the "Other OS" option. The company said at the time that its decision to remove the feature, which allowed users to install an operating system--most often Linux--on pre-Slim models of the game console, was rooted in its desire to make it "a more secure system." When Sony's PlayStation 3 Slim launched prior to that announcement, it lacked the ability to run another operating system.

As could be expected, those who were running Linux on the console were not too happy with Sony's decision. About a week after Other OS was removed in the update, Hotz released a video, showing a hack that allowed users to run another operating system on the console.

But the battle between Sony and hackers was far from over.

In August, a hack called PS Jailbreak surfaced, allowing console owners to play games via the PlayStation 3's hard drive or an external drive. Sony successfully halted sales of PS3 Jailbreak in Australia later that month.

Sony still finds itself sparring with alleged hackers. With each successive firmware update, the company has included additional security to patch holes that hackers had been exploiting. Firmware version 3.55 included a security patch, as well.