Sony Doesn’t Know Who It’s Taking To Court

Sony Doesn’t Know Who It’s Taking To Court

As part of its crusade to crush those responsible for breaking the PS3’s copy protection, Sony is targeting two parties: famed hacker George Hotz and the fail0verflow team. Only problem is, Sony has no idea who fail0verflow is.

Well, it knows they’re the group responsible for kicking this whole thing off when they found the PS3’s “private cryptography key” (ie skeleton key), but to take people to court Sony can’t use internet reports and nicknames. It needs real names. Which it doesn’t have, and cannot find on its own.

So it’s asking a number of high and very high profile sites to start handing over any personal details they may have on the team. While that includes gaming and tech sites, Sony is also asking Google, Twitter and PayPal for information like the real names, phone numbers and contact addresses of the fail0verflow team.

This isn’t a polite request. It’s a subpoena demanding the information.

While they’ll probably just sit it out until Sony inevitably gets hold of the details, I’d love to imagine the fail0verflow guys going “Bourne”, breaking out the fake passports and heading for Belize…

Sony seeks to ID fail0verflow PS3 hackers [GameSpot]


  • Ultimately, I’d have to support Sony here, since piracy is a scorn and blight on the games industry, something within me wants to root for the fail0verflow people, solely because they’re being hunted now.

    They better learn krav maga and know how to use random household goods to kill their pursuers.

    Continuing the Bourne idea, sorry.

    • Unlocking your hardware does not equal piracy, just as much as rooting or jailbreaking your phone does not equal piracy.

      Jesus Christ, this sort of attitude that actually owning your hardware is something that should be punished to the extremes like Sony seems to want is fucking creepy.

    • Do you really think a hole like Sony left would have been uncovered for long? Information has a habit of leaking out. I actually approve of the team making this information freely available rather than handing it to their friends and pirating Sony’s games without letting them know it had a problem.

      By prosecuting these guys Sony is going to stop people coming forward to tell them about holes and next time they won’t see the hack coming.

    • I can’t expect everyone to watch a 45 minute speech on hardware hacking, but if you watch fail0verflow’s presentation, you’ll see that they only did this work to reenable the option to run their own code on the system, (homebrew and linux, etc). They state in their release that they don’t encourage piracy, that if Sony hadn’t removed the OtherOS option, then they’d never have done this. So, I 100% support them.

      • Right, sorry.
        Not very smart over these things.
        More of a just-follow-the-news sort of guy.

        I’ll be sure to read up more on this thing.

        Especially before I make another comment as ignorant as mine. <.<;

        Thanks for the info and opinions, guys.

        • LOL. rationalize it however you like, laws are laws, there’s that 48 page terms and conditions you ‘agree’ to every time you update your ps3. committing a crime over something you perceive as an injustice is still committing a crime.

          i love how people see these guys as martyrs or something, how they say they don’t encourage piracy or what ever. next thing you know, they’ll be saying they hacked the ps3 to bring world peace.

          • So I’m sure no one’s following this anymore but there’s a few things wrong with your position.

            Firstly EULA’s aren’t really legal. They can contain clauses which actually violate a countries laws. Even if you agree to something it’s null if you can’t be legally constrained that way.

            In parts of Europe the legal position is that once you purchase your PS3 you have bought the right to all that hardware. You can do whatever you want with it. Obviously you can’t pirate games, because there is a copyright infringement, but you can open it up and poke it. It may void your warranty, but that’s hardly a legal concern.

            That said I would guess that the private key stored on your playstation is also yours. Sony probably shouldn’t have used the *same* one. I don’t know if that’s been tested legally, but it’s certainly what I would argue as a defence lawyer.

    • yes because microsoft and nintendo have gone broke from rampant piracy…
      I disagree with piracy, but realisticly it will always happen, the PC, xbox, xbox 360, wii, PSP, DS/DSi, PS1, PS2, and now the PS3 have all been hacked (either through custom firmware or custom hardware).

      All this money that the industry has “lost” due to piracy is sort of a joke. There is no way to tell how many downloads are actually lost sales (ie they would have bought it if they did’nt/couldn’t download it).

      Sony’s legal tactic here is basicaly to bully those who want to add features (Homebrew, and bringing back Other-OS) that Sony doesn’t like. I honestly don’t think Sony want homebrew as if people have access to free homebrew games they’ll be less inclined to drop cash on the PSN.

      I don’t pirate (I support the companies that make the games I enjoy) but I would like to see ScummVM on the PS3 with Move controls. Since I can’t see Sony ever allowing it on the PSN I support anyone wanting to bring homebrew to the PS3.

  • Sorry Sony, charging these guys won’t stop people from figuring out the holes in your tech. If anything, it’ll just teach future crackers/hackers how to avoid being caught.

  • It seems fairly clear that the fail0verflow folks are European, so it is interesting to see Sony go after them in the US.

    I guess if you are a global corporation it is easier to choose your jurisdiction, and the US has more lax privacy laws.

  • Marcan doesn’t exactly hide his identity, in fact most of the fail0verflow teams real identities are pretty well known.

    And usually in areas outside of SCEAs jurisdiction.


  • I’d be really disappointed if any of those websites gave them any information. These websites shouldn’t be allowed to give out personal information even if it is to aid the capture of criminals. Perhaps if these were criminals that were harming people in some way, but all they are really doing is causing Sony to lose some money.

    • So do I have to harm someone before I become a criminal?

      Maybe I should start vandalising public property, hey only money from the tax payer is being lost.

      …The real issue here is testing grey-waters of what is legal and what’s not. Sony is clearly flex its legal muscle because well… it’s better than sitting on their hands, which quite frankly I believe it’s time someone shook the world. Seriously sick n’ tired of people hiding behind technicalities.

      And yes I am an illogical angry mob with burning stakes in hand.

  • I’m against Sony on this one. They are practically bullying other sites to give them the information to track a group who, from if anyone follows this story elsewhere like a PS3 Scene site, will know is non-American and therefore sits outside the USA jurisdiction. The only reason Geohotz is anywhere close to being grabbed is because he lives in the USA (Mind you there are a million things Sony has done wrong in trying to get to Geohotz).

    These lawsuits are nothing more than a bullying act, and if they get what they are after, then it shows that the USA rules the world and that a big company can bully it’s way through the law system

  • As someone who will be starting game design soon I can see why piracy is such a major issue but at the same time if otheros was left on then the chance of it being hacked to this extent more then likely would not have happened.

  • Devil’s Advocate here;

    Doesn’t Sony deserve it’s day in court, don’t the defendants. Each day we all live in countries bound by laws created by people we elect to do so.

    If you disagree with the law surely we should be acting to change it? Does the law apply differently when it’s applied to a console? Why have we sat silent against laws that we disagree with for so long. Despite funding campaigns companies don’t elect our representatives the people do.

    If they have broken a law, ignorance of it is no crime, nor is saying we did it for the people as they broke a law established by the representative of those people.

    Piss or get off the pot, change the law or condemn the criminal.

    • OK maybe I’m just enormously cynical, world weary and pessimistic, but do you honestly believe (and I know you’re playing devils advocate here so I’m just responding to your comments) that we have much influence on laws and lawmakers?

      Here in Australia we’ve got so much public support for an R18+ rating for games that it’s staggering – surveys that are official recognised as having the largest signature counts, 85%+ of all surveyed groups strongly in favour of the rating etc etc etc and yet the government still has done little more than employ delaying tactics again and again rather than making a decision (and now they’re looking at revamping the whole ratings/classification system… but still no decision on an R18+ rating).

      Laws are made by a government at the behest of the rich and powerful lobby/interest groups and have very little to do with the will of the people – maybe at some stage in the past that used to be the case but not anymore. Compare what happens if a celebrity gets arrested vs anyone else – the laws protect the rich from people like you and me (OK that came out a little paranoid but go watch Capitalism: A love story by Michael Moore sometime – it’s hideously biased but gives a peek at what’s really going on).

      • Last I checked a company doesn’t have a right to vote, they can influence our elected leaders but not outright install them.

        Define so much support, I haven’t seen the recent number but somewhere I read 89,000 people responded. So 0.4% of the population cares about what they do in their leisure time. As opposed the laws protecting victims of crime?

        The laws are consistent, it’s the legal counsel one can afford that changes the playing field.

        Maybe it’s time for people to take back the power, oh wait they are all playing video games and are too busy to care 🙂 Seriously though all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing, it would seem like good men have been doing very little for a fair while now.

        • I’m glad you have faith in the system and believe it works to support those that actually need the help, from my perspective we can vote a particular person from our region into office, but we have very little say on what position they hold once they get there. Also if you don’t happen to live in a seat that has swing potential then you’re vote has very little impact.

          As to your 0.4% of the population comment, that’s disingenuous at best – the 89,000 respondents survey was called record breaking at the time:

          For opinion polls it is expected that a sample size of 1,000 give around a 3% chance of sampling error, while 10,000 has a 1% chance of sampling error. So we have 89,000+ I’m pretty comfortable this is a representative sample of the Australian population. Not to mention the shear number of respondents indicates a very high level of interest in the topic.

          I would disagree about your consistency of laws stance but I reckon I’m already way past TL;DR status and just say any laws that require an overpaid/overeducated individual to interpret them for me are perhaps not constructed with my best interests at heart. If these law makers are so smart why can’t they write laws that make sense to everyone without needing to hire another one to tell you what it means.

          I saw the smiley face on your last comment so I’ll assume you’re being flippant – playing games is actually hard work:

          Just because we enjoy it doesn’t make it less so.

          I’m all for taking the power back and despite your statement good people have been doing what they can but even showing people the truth these days can get you branded a traitor and have people calling for you to be killed, but please throw some more quoted platitudes at me. Personally I like this one:

          “The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy” – Alex Carey

  • Screw failOverflow.

    Bunch of gloating try-hards who are now finding out, the hard way, that there are consequences to stealing and distributing other people’s intellectual property.

    Boo hoo, so sad.

    • Ummm, how did failOverflow steal and distribute intellectual property? All I thought they did was discover the crypto private keys to enable running custom software on the PS3 hardware. A crypto private key is not intellectual property, you know.

      • I’m not sure that a key could be considered IP, but releasing it pretty much assured that Sony’s and publisher’s IPs would be stolen, and despite failOverflow’s assurances, they knew it would.

        You only have to be on some chat boards to see the sudden massive increase in people unlocking their PS3 to pirate games now.

        I’m over the argument that Sony deserves it for removing OtherOS.

        This is why companies don’t reach out to the hacker/homebrew communities. Sony did what no other console maker dared to do, they allowed you to install linux on their console and write your own code (within limits). It was a nod to the home developer and the hacker. Instead of being respected for it or lauded for it, they got little but flack about the limitations of the linux implementation. Eventually it was starting to be used as a potential way-in to hack the PS3. So Sony (probably ill-advisadly) took it away. This aroused unprecedented ire for something few people used (I understand it was a ‘freedom’ cause for people, but seriously, there is so much in the world that is so *actually* evil, pick one of those causes and do something about that).
        So now Sony is evil and the hackers justified in attacking them. At least Sony actually tried something with the OtherOS experiment, even if it didn’t work.
        failOverflow and geohot could have kept quiet about their findings until they had a working re-enable for OtherOS. They could have just made a version of linux and signed it. But they didn’t, they crowed about the keys and released them, knowing that it would impact on thousands of people’s ability to earn a living. Game piracy causes lost revenue, it means programmers like me are less likely to get work. It isn’t as big a problem as is made out but it definitely costs the industry money, which affects the guys at the bottom like us. To unleash a way to allow piracy to be effectively no effort is so irresponsible and so effin selfish, there is no way I can support these guys in this.

  • If these failOverflow want all information to be free, then they can give out the information of who they are.

    Arrgh, I sound like Fox News, I’m probably just cranky because of this horrible virus that has meant not being able to stray from the loo for more than twenty minutes for the last three days.

  • “Only problem is, Sony has no idea who fail0verflow is.”

    True, but for a different reason. They are parot of the CCC. An organization who dragged the German government in front of the constitutional court and humiliated them. They are now fighting against ACTA and other lobby organizations in the EU. And so far, they have an impressive track record.

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