A Federal court in California has slapped the hacker who publicized a jailbreak for the Playstation 3 console with a temporary restraining order, impounding his computers and barring him from publicizing the exploit on the Internet.
The restraining order says that George Hotz, who often went by the moniker geohot, is forbidden from offering any more methods or software that allow people to modify their Sony Playstations to run other software than that approved by Sony. Nor is he allowed to provide links to sites that offer such methods or software. He is also ordered to turn over his computers to Sony.
It wasn't clear that Sony Computer Entertainment America, which filed a lawsuit against Hotz earlier this month, would get its restraining order, as the company had to show that the court had jurisdiction over Hotz. But Sony was able to satisfy Judge Susan Illston that Hotz had harmed the company's business in California and offered more than a passive web site - he had promoted his jailbreaking software and encouraged others to use it.
Sony's original lawsuit says Hotz, Hector Martin Cantero, Sven Peter, and John Does one through 100 violated copyright, the computer fraud and abuse act, as well as California law. Sony's complaint also says Hotz, Cantero and Peter acted to circumvent the copy protections built into the device and trafficked in circumvention devices and components thereof that enable unauthorized access to and copying of one or more PS3 System and SCEA's other copyrighted works. The trafficking part of the complaint refers to Hotz publishing the code on his blog.
Hotz's lawyer, Stewart Kellar, had filed an objection stating that Sony has no jurisdiction in the case, as Hotz lives in New Jersey and the complaint was filed in California. He also argued that a restraining order, the filing says, would also be too broad, as taking away Hotz's computers (as well as his PS3) would adversely affect his ability to make a living as well as compromise data that might be private.
A video of the jailbreak was released by Hotz, who goes by the user ID geohot, on YouTube. On his blog he had a link to the software, which can be loaded on to any PS3. On Thursday the front page of the site only had text, with no links.
The two sides will meet to decide on a date for the next hearing.
Hotz has argued that the software he wrote only restores functions to the PS3 that were there before, as earlier versions of the firmware allow it to run other operating systems. Current versions do not allow this.