The PlayStation Hacker’s PlayStation Hacking Days Are Over

The PlayStation Hacker’s PlayStation Hacking Days Are Over

Rapper (and part-time hacker) George Hotz has settled out of court with Sony, who wanted him strung up on charges of circumventing the PS3’s copy protection. And the details of that settlement are now public.

In order to escape going to trial, Hotz has agreed to, basically, never mess around with another Sony product ever again. He’s barred from “unauthorized access to any Sony product under the law”, and will be in deep trouble if he violates a Sony product’s terms of service, “whether or not Hotz has accepted such agreement or terms of use”.

If he’s found to have breached those stipulations, he’s liable to face a $US10,000 fine per violation, up to a maximum “cap” of $US250,000.

So, that’ll put an end to his attempts at hacking Sony products, then.

While escaping a fine or sterner penalty will be seen by Hotz as a win, as far as his fans and followers are concerned – some of whom gave the guy money to help him fight his court case – things aren’t so glorious.

He’s being called out for originally writing this about the chances of a settlement with Sony, prior to the settlement actually taking place:

What if SCEA tries to settle? Let’s just say, I want the settlement terms to include OtherOS on all PS3s and an apology on the PlayStation blog for ever removing it. It’d be good PR for Sony too, lord knows they could use it. I’m also willing to accept a trade, a legit path to homebrew for knowledge of how to stop new firmwares from being decrypted.

None of which has happened. There are also repeated calls for an update on what’s been done with the money donated to Hotz to fight Sony, now that the court case won’t actually be taking place.

Sony/Hotz settlement details surface [GameSpot]


  • I don’t blame him for not sticking to his intial comments re settlement – why put himself through beign crushed by Sony?

    Re the legal money, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a lot of legal fees just to ge thim to that conclusion.

  • Haha, none of those things were ever going to happen and anyone who believed they would are a little foolish. Sony has this guy by the balls, the odds of him turning it around on them were always tiny.

    • If they had him by the balls there would have been no settlement. Sony knew that they couldn’t get the case tried in California (the only jurisdiction that would guarantee a win for them) and that the longer they kept going the more money they’d lose when the odds weren’t in their favour. His lawyer had the techicalities to win this and they knew that.

      The only reason he didn’t get those other things in the settlement would be because his lawyer would have told him not to push his luck.

      • If he had the “technicalities to win” then he would have fought it rather than taking the settlement. Sony had nothing to gain by pushing it all the way because even if they won there was no way he could pay whatever penalties the court would have ordered. This is a settlement that is 100% on Sony’s terms. They’ve basically written it and given it to him to sign – it doesn’t look like Hotz gets anything out of this except avoiding a legal penalty that would send him bankrupt.

        If Hotz and his lawyers thought he had any legal ground to stand on then there’s no way he would have agreed to a settlement on these terms. He didn’t just not get his OtherOS and the other stuff he said he’d insist on – he basically gave Sony everything they wanted. That’s hardly the deal you cut to walk away when you reckon you’re on a winner. Especially when you’ve got the funding behind you to fight it.

        • Sony had nothing to gain FULL STOP yet they went ahead with it. This was a company determined to make an example of somebody but what they thought would be easy wasn’t because of the technicalities Hotz’s lawyer/s brought forward.

          Sony starts the legal battle and goes after one guy (in the eyes of the media, practically a kid) who in the grand scheme of things did bugger all, so they got bad press. They then drew even more attention to the flaws Hotz had posted online taking it from being known about my at best a few hundred so thousands if not millions world wide, followed by that they were attacked by Anon costing them a lot of money in terms of game sales with the down time on PSN, not to mention the couple of million they spent on DDOS related protection for the wrong server (you know, the one that wasn’t being attacked). Then of course you have the legal fees and them being flat out denied a chance to get the case moved to California.

          Hotz could’ve pushed it further but his lawyer/s would have advised against it pointing out his lack of funding.

          If you think about it; kid vs Sony. Sony want to back out, tail between their legs. Kid has low funds, is not a multi-billion dollar corporation and has a chance of a decent victory. Sure he doesn’t get what he wanted but he still got them to back down. Also, how exactly are they going to monitor his activities to make sure he doesn’t do it again? Will he have a Sony rep in his presence 24/7?

          Face it, Sony backed down because they were losing way too much money on a pointless cause, and he decided to play it safe rather than be arrogant. A lesson Sony should’ve learnt before all this happened.

          • How, exactly, did Sony “back down”?

            If this had gone all the way to the end and the court had ruled 100% in Sony’s favour, how would the outcome have been any different from this? The end result would have most likely been damages awarded against Hotz and Sony being granted a court injunction preventing Hotz from hacking any more Sony devices. Since Hotz wouldn’t have been able to pay the damages anyway, the final result would have been exactly the situation we have now.

            And you think Sony care about the money they were spending on this? This is a giant international corporation we’re talking about here. The cost of this case was a drop in the ocean for them. And it would have been worth every cent for the warning it sends to others that Sony WILL go after them if they tamper with their security.

            Sony got exactly what they wanted, and Hotz got nothing that he wanted. If that’s a loss, then Sony would be pretty happy to lose like that all the time.

        • technicalities to win don’t equal a win. Not only that but even if Sony couldn’t have won in court, they would have won by dragging this case so far through the system with as many stalling tactics as possible to wring him dry of all funds.

      • Raven, that’s a false assumption.

        As Braaains said, if he could win, he would have fought. This is a stalemate at best.

        But it looks like the whole deal was written on Sony’s terms alone. Geo practically went into battle and came back with nothing to show for…except for a lousy t-shirt and a big fat ban.

        Doesn’t seem like a victory to me.

      • Don’t worry Raven, just move on to supporting Anonymous, at least they’re not as arrogant as Hotz was.



  • Well he didn’t put up much of a fight.

    He was all hardcore when he started out with his rapping and his machoness of never backing down from a large corporation. He even had the nerve to collect money to fight the cause and in the end all he did is use delay tactics until his moments of glory were over.

    And his original demands of asking Sony to apologise and putting Other OS back never happened. If only he put Other OS back himself in the first place then none of this would’ve happened. He was a very bright individual and could’ve achieved this easily and avoided this mess.

    As for all the money he collected, let’s see how he’s gonna return it… or even better… spend it.

    While it would be the right thing to do to return it, but I think it would be more interesting if he spent it. But I doubt his collegues would be happy if he did.

    In the end, I hope people learnt something from this. You buy a product the hardware may be yours but you only have a terms of use agreement on the software. You may erase all the software and install your own, but circumventing the OS security and using that as a base for your homebrew is still against the terms of use.

    If you have the urge to break the security of the system then do so by all means. But keep it in your basement and maybe share it with your buddies who you trust and you should all be fine. If you need to showoff then maybe post a video or 2. You’re just asking for trouble when you release vital security information about the system and then make software and tools to make it simple for everybody else to do the same.

    There is also the professional approach, which is approaching the company and telling them you found a flaw/exploit and give them time to patch it. Then try to break it again when its patched. You get your satisfaction of circumventing the security and professional recognition for doing the right thing. And if you’re lucky, the company may even hire you to break their stuff full time or ask for your help as a security consultant.

    • I like your thinking in the last paragraph, makes me wish I was talent enough to do that sort of thing.

      He shouldn’t have made it viral and told people what he did and how he did allowing other hackers to do the same.

      I do not know if he meant to help piracy or not (I have a feeling he did), but he ended up doing that anyway. Now he is getting publicity off this whole thing and is milking it for all its worth.

      • Well he kept saying he was against piracy but his actions indirectly supported it. His work made it so bloody easy for hundreds of others to take what he’s done, twist it and shape it into a piracy unlocked build and before you know it there’s 300+ builds to hack your PS3 into a free-lunch gaming platform on the internet.

  • Didn’t he previously say that any leftover donations from his legal defence would be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation or something similar?

    So I guess that’s where the money will go. Either that or he’ll take another holiday to South America to recover from the stress of this ordeal 😛

    I think he made that statement re settlement back when he thought he had a leg to stand on in any of this. Clearly by the terms of this settlement he may have seen the light and was desperate for for a way out of it. I’m surprised Sony didn’t ask him to throw in his left nut just to sweeten the deal.

  • Didn’t he use the money to travel to South America on a holiday? I’m sure he spent the money on a well endowed Brazilian bird for some boom boom massage. He’s just like all the other interweb kiddy hackers out there. They talk it up and act tough using the anonymity of the Internet as cover yet can’t back it up in the real world.

    Just like me revelling in my own anonymity and not putting my real name against this comment.

  • Who cares what he has done with the money. If you dont like what he did, why did you give it to him? Its not a donation if you stipulate exactly what the money must be spent on.

  • Wow guys there’s some seriously misinformed comments I’m seeing here but then the article didnt exactly cover the facts well either.

    At the end of the day none of this matters. The info is out there and in the hands of people that know how to use it. Geohot wasnt the only one to figure things out he was just the one that decided to put his name to it.

    The scene has moved on and is going strong so this means nothing in the grand scheme of things. 🙂

  • Hotz is a tool. Pure and simple. While I don’t agree with how Sony conducted themselves during this farcical legal wrangle, I think that Hotz deserved to get shot down for once. The guy’s just an attention-seeking, self-absorbed media whore basically, starting with the iPhone and continuing through to the PS3. And what a surprise that suddenly all the money people donated is conveniently not needed. Say goodbye to your hard earned cash everyone! I’m sure he’ll put it to good use… Say, towards funding his next big hacking job that will benefit no one and go nowhere. Let’s not forget that it was his hacking of Linux on the PS3 that got OtherOS removed in the first place, upon which he said he would restore it… and didn’t. Good on you, you arrogant tw**.

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