Files lawsuit against GeoHot, the same user who helped to crack the iPhone, and several others, demanding that he turn over all the “computers, hard drives, CD-roms, DVDs, USB stick, and any other storage devices on which any Circumvention Devices are stored in Defendant Hotz’s possession, custody or control,” even though the root key has already been widely published around the Internet.
A few weeks ago we reported how a user by the name of GeoHot, the same user who helped to crack the iPhone, had posted the root key of the PlayStation 3 (PS3), thereby allowing users to play downloaded games directly on the gaming console.
The root key is sort of the holy grail of jailbreaking because it’s the signature that tells the equipment, in this case the PS3, that the software about to run is legitimate. With this in hand users could run custom software or pirated games.
GeoHot, aka George Hotz, already published the keys and even made a video of his exploits, but Sony seems to think it can put the proverbial genie back in the bottle. It’s filed a lawsuit against him and several others it thinks may be involved demanding he hand over all the “computers, hard drives, CD-roms, DVDs, USB stick, and any other storage devices on which any Circumvention Devices are stored in Defendant Hotz’s possession, custody or control.”
Sony believes that Hotz and his cohorts violated the Digital Millennium Copyright because they bypassed Sony’s technological protection measures for the PS3, and then distributed “illegal Circumvention Devices” – i.e. the root key.
“Working individually and in concert with one another, Defendants recently bypassed effective technological protection measures (‘TPMs’) employed by plaintiff Sony Computer Entertainment America LLP (‘SCEA’) in its proprietary PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system (‘PS3 System’),” reads the lawsuit. “Through the Internet, Defendants are distributing software, tools and instructions (collectively, ‘Circumvention Devices’) that circumvent the TPMs in the PS3 System and facilitate the counterfeiting of video games.”
The DMCA forbids a person who is not the authorized copyright owner from circumventing content protection methods put in place by the copyright owner.
It is illegal to “circumvent a technological measure means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the
authority of the copyright owner.” It’s also illegal to distribute the tools that facilitate the ability do any of the above.
It’s funny because GeoHot was the one who managed to jailbreak the iPhone, and the Librarian of Congress at the US Copyright Office even classified it as a non-infringing activity during its most recent review of amendments to the DMCA
But, there’s no such luck this time around, and it’ll be a while before the US Copyright Office can grant an exemption for jailbreaking gaming consoles if it decides to do so. The law only requires that the Librarian of Congress considers if consumers are “adversely affected” by the prohibition of “their ability to make noninfringing uses…of a particular class of copyrighted works’’ once every three years. The most recent was last July.
Congress chose to create the review as a “fail-safe mechanism” to monitor the effect that anti-circumvention provisions were having on consumers.
Either way, it’s curious as to what Sony expects the outcome of the case to be. Lawsuits are intended to either serve as warnings to others or a recovery of damages, and since it’s unlikely to see much in the way of damages from the young defendants in the case, it has to be the former.
In either case the root keys have already been published and there’s no way to undo that. All it really does is prove that Sony is as disconnected from reality as ever. It is, after all, the same outfit behind the infamous rootkit DRM fiasco.
Update: GeoHot appeared on last night’s episode of “Attack of the Show”