Lawyer denies tampering in PS3 hacker case [Updated]

In court documents, Sony has accused PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz of tampering his impounded hard drives. The company is now pressing hard to begin the suit with California jurisdiction.

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[Update 06:10 a.m. 3/24] IGN reports that Stewart Kellar, Hotz's attorney, says the missing parts have now been delivered. "The 'integral components' SCEA is talking about are stock controller cards, not the hard drives themselves," he said. "The neutral subsequently had to explain to SCEA the form and function of the hard drive controller cards. Those controller cards have since been provided to the neutral so the point is moot."

"You can never take a vacation from a lawsuit," he continued. "Mr. Hotz has had to make himself available 24/7 for this litigation, which has been quite demanding on him. You have to remember that Mr. Hotz didn't choose to fight this battle, but now that he has been sued, he has put his heart into fighting this case that has enormous implications for consumers world-wide."

Kellar went on to deny that donation money from fans has been used for a trip to South America, calling the notion "silly." He says all donation funds are being put toward his legal defense, and any remaining funds will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

[Original Story] As the latest bit of drama in the PlayStation 3 hacker suit saga, Sony has accused hacker George Hotz (aka "GeoHot") of tampering with the hard drives he was ordered to surrender, and may now be able to build a case for jurisdiction in California. Court documents (via VGHQ) show Sony accusing Hotz of "a campaign to thwart jurisdictional discovery at every turn."

Hotz had been ordered to turn over his hard drives and appear at a California deposition, but apparently removed "integral components" from the HDDs before going to South America. Sony calls his trip "an excuse for why he will not immediately provide the components" that were removed. Hotz's counsel was open about his trip to South America.

Now Sony is arguing that his tampering has stood in the way of the California jurisdictional discovery, which may help them establish the case to be tried in the state. In addition, but the company has used his PlayStation 3 serial number to track his PlayStation Network account name, after Hotz claimed he had none. Since he had to agree to the User Agreement for his PSN account, Sony argues it gives more than enough reason to try the case in California.

Confusion over jurisdiction has been a problem for Sony from the start, since a California judge was hesitant to hear the case in her state since Hotz is from New Jersey. If Sony can establish jurisdiction in California, it can move ahead with the suit and subpoena Hotz to come back from South America -- presumably, with missing components in hand.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 23, 2011 2:00 PM

    Comment on Sony accuses PS3 hacker of tampering, by Steve Watts.

    • reply
      March 23, 2011 2:06 PM

      Summary: In court documents, Sony has accused PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz of tampering his impounded hard drives. The company is now pressing hard to begin the suit with California jurisdiction.

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      March 23, 2011 2:08 PM

      Jeez, Sony. You're being worse than Apple. I think people have the right to do whatever they want with something they buy, as long as they don't infringe on any legal issues. Jailbreaking isn't illegal unless you use pirated software...

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        March 23, 2011 2:10 PM

        "Jailbreaking" is illegal if you're doing it to something other than a wireless telephone handset, according to the DMCA.

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          March 23, 2011 2:22 PM

          yes, but why does such a distinction exist between phones and gaming consoles? Yes jailbreaking a phone lets you use other carriers so it has a strong argument with fair use and whatnot, but jailbreaking a console also lets you do plenty of legal activities, especially legal activities which Sony initially claimed the console could do (Linux).

          The argument for / against piracy in both cases is moot since it is possible for both.

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        March 23, 2011 2:19 PM

        Technically, just because you buy something doesn't mean you own it. If you read the ToS on a lot of the gaming peripheral, you'll find that we have the right to license it, but not fully own it.

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          March 23, 2011 2:27 PM

          The other catch is that he agreed to the ToS when he created his PSN account, I think that's what Sony is trying to use to enforce this.

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            March 23, 2011 10:31 PM

            But he's saying he has no PSN account...

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          March 23, 2011 2:29 PM

          i don't think this is true

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          March 23, 2011 2:30 PM

          You own it. There is no ToS on hardware, only access to their network.

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            March 23, 2011 2:48 PM

            the physical components perhaps, but there are some legal protections for any patents and your use of them. It's all rather silly for consumers, but I can see the business side. You invest in the thing, you want to make sure your protected.

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              March 23, 2011 3:28 PM

              the internet treats patent like law trademark law like copyright law. the internet hates it

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                March 23, 2011 3:52 PM

                Nah, I'm down with copyright (though the term needs to be reduced to allow for a meaningful public domain), I was specifically referring to the ToS as referenced in the parent post.

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        March 23, 2011 3:18 PM

        It's sad that the precedent of all this is going to be decided by some judge who is basically hearing a CSI wet dream versus the typical EFF defense. And chances are, the judge won't have much technical knowledge, and perhaps won't care much about privacy or right to hack.

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      March 23, 2011 2:35 PM

      The longer this goes on the more I wonder what Sony really hopes to accomplish here. The kid doesn't sound like he has money, so they're not getting any of that. And the jailbreak isn't going to disappear. I guess they think "sending a message" is worth all the bad press they're getting? It's a really strange decision.

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        March 23, 2011 3:01 PM

        Sony's in a lose lose situation. If they had sat back it'd be almost like an official response to allow pirating of their software and network. Now they chose a lousy target and are losing face over it.
        They should have just waited it out and aggressively attacked the ones abusing their network/pirating software, something they're going to have to do anyways.
        There definatly wouldn't be the kind of support for the people blatantly pirating games and hacking PSN as there is for Hotz right now.

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          March 23, 2011 3:10 PM

          They weren't in a lose lose situation at all, since sitting back and doing nothing doesn't have to be one of the options, they could have actively done what you describe in your second paragraph right from the beginning. It's what MS have been doing and it worked out well enough for them, they get the occasional bit of negative press about someone being banned for no reason (and it's usually discovered that they were actually being cheating douchebags anyway) but no serious blowback from the community.

          Sony just went about this wrong right from the beginning :(

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          March 23, 2011 3:45 PM

          Sony probably considers it cheaper to "make an example of some kid from New Jersey" than to get stuck trying to find and sue every hacker. They can say they'll ban every hacked box that tries to connect to PSN, but they probably want to take this chance to repair the brand damage of having a "hackable console" (even though it's been that way for years via hardware hacking, and months with no hardware hacking).

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            March 23, 2011 8:41 PM

            The side effect is that they piss off many hackers around the world and motivate them to work harder on hacking the ps3. Just a bad plan.

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        March 23, 2011 3:02 PM

        Has the average consumer seen a whiff of any of this "bad press"?

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        March 23, 2011 6:08 PM

        I really don't think they are getting much bad press, especially to the average consumer who has no idea who Hotz even is. Plus there are a whole lot of people out there who quietly hope Sony keeps the PS3 secure.. you know.. the tens of thousands of people who work in the industry whose jobs depend on game sales.

        But most people on anonymous message boards don't care about them.. until there's an article about laying off X number of employees at and they are outraged.

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          March 23, 2011 6:10 PM

          That last line should have read:
          until there's an article about (insert giant publisher) laying off X number of employees at (insert small developer) and they are outraged.

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        March 23, 2011 11:07 PM

        I think they want to set legal precedent with the case. Once that's established, then they have somewhere to stand now and in the future.

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      March 23, 2011 3:13 PM

      Go get him Sony, you're the only company with balls to do so... User agreements are there for a reason... Hope he gets nailed to the wall for this...

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        March 23, 2011 3:17 PM

        I try not to do this, but you should step in front of a bus as soon as possible.

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          March 23, 2011 4:02 PM

          You're so silly... Why dont you go play in traffic that's better then a bus... Oh too everyone who donated to his worthless cause he's spending your money in South America! Good job suckers! hahah

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            March 23, 2011 4:03 PM

            Congratulations, you're today's worst poster.

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            March 23, 2011 6:03 PM

            lol you spent money on a PS3 to have it wasted on court proceedings against someone who fled the country

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            March 23, 2011 11:23 PM

            why would anyone listen to you? You don't even know the difference between "then" and "than".

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        March 23, 2011 3:31 PM

        ....your mom should have swallowed.

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          March 23, 2011 3:56 PM

          She did, and look what happened....

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          March 23, 2011 4:03 PM

          I know your mom swallows.... I'm in a reposting mood today!

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            March 23, 2011 11:23 PM

            nope, you're just not inventive or original enough to come up with your own stuff

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        March 23, 2011 4:06 PM

        If you create a rap video begging Sony to sue you and then it turns out you agreed to the EULA and tampered with evidence and ran to South America, you deserve whatever you get.

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          March 23, 2011 8:52 PM

          If you don't read a little further to see he's taking a planned vacation, that he kept controller cards that he used to connect the hard disks with (because they're part of his computer) and didn't "tamper with evidence," and that the account that was created on the PS3 was created in another state from the one he lived in, then you're a dumb ass.

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        March 23, 2011 6:02 PM

        NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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        March 24, 2011 8:45 AM

        You do realize this case is going awful for Sony right now: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110322114658410

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          March 24, 2011 8:47 AM

          The case hasn't even started yet, they're still arguing over jurisdiction aren't they?

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            March 24, 2011 8:55 AM

            Absolutely. Sony is having a horrible time proving that Geo has anything to do with CA. In fact, some of their own evidence pointed out that it should be Sony-Japan going after the guy, since in their EULA the software is covered only by Sony-Japan.

            This warranty does not apply to any system software that is pre-installed in the PS3™ hardware, or Is subsequently provided via update or upgrade releases. Such system software is licensed to you under the terms and conditions of a separate end user license agreement at http://www.scei.co.jp//ps3-eula and such software is provided pursuant to its own warranty.

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      March 23, 2011 3:40 PM

      He'll pay a small fine, which he'll pay off with donations that he'll easily acquire. Nothing he's done has cost Sony lost business.

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        March 23, 2011 4:06 PM

        Yeh you're right only the developers hurt but they don't mean anything right? Example PSP, when you don't man up and stick up for you system that's what happens... GeoHotz way too much ego and less brains he probably thinks in his head he's some leader of some cult now. Sony has him now since he made an account with them, that's why he's in south america, my advice to him is to just stay there...

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          March 23, 2011 5:40 PM

          Oh, c'mon. You're already shown throughout this thread you have no idea what you're talking about. The man wasn't distributing pirated software, and he's never taken a dime for his hacks. He has very little personal engagement with communities on the internet. The only one that's putting him on a pedestal is you and Sony.

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          March 23, 2011 5:53 PM

          My advice to you is to go join him.

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      March 23, 2011 4:56 PM

      The funny part is if he wasn't such a retard and didn't throw the fact of what he was able to do in sony's face he'd be fine. This is what happens to hot shits who want to try to be bad ass and brag about it.

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        March 23, 2011 8:44 PM

        internet tough guys gotta keep frontin

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        March 23, 2011 8:52 PM

        Yes yes, he wanted to be "famous." Hacking. It's the new path to Justin Bieber.

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          March 24, 2011 8:39 AM

          I still don't know who Justin Bieber is but the way everyone talks about him I'm glad I don't, anyway hotz is internet famous now so I guess if he wanted fame he kinda got it.
          Is it wrong to modify something you own and share it with others? I don't think so but should you be prepared in case others miss use your work? Yes.

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            March 24, 2011 3:35 PM

            Did it make him "famous," is that why he did anything at all? No.

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        March 24, 2011 8:42 AM

        Remember you'r reading Sony's take on this, not necessarily the facts. It's amusing to me how quickly everyone just accepted their interpretation of things, though.