A Sony employee accidentally re-tweeted a code that allows users to get around the security on a Playstation 3 -- at the same time the company is suing a hacker for publicizing code with a similar function.
The fictional Sony employee, Kevin Butler got a tweet from a Travis La Marr, a twitter user using the handle exiva, which contained the code. The code is a set of hexadecimal values that allows a user to get around the protections that prevent a Playstation from playing pirated games. Butler is played on Sony TV commercials by actor Jerry Lambert, and the name is used on a Twitter account for promotions.
The re-tweet says you sunk my battleship, evidently a reference to the classic board game Battleship. Battleship involves firing shots at coordinates denoted by letters and numbers. However, the code that was re-tweeted is actually a set of hexadecimal numbers, commonly used in more advanced computer programming.
Sony Computer Entertainment America, meanwhile, had filed a lawsuit in January against George Hotz, who had publicized a jailbreak on his Web site that allowed the installation of other operating systems on the Playstation 3.
Sony's complaint says that 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.
But Lambert - or the employee using the Kevin Butler Twitter account - has now arguably done the very same thing, even if it is focused on a slightly different type of circumvention technology.
A call to Sony's lawyer, James Gilliland, was not returned, nor was calls to Sony's spokespeople.
Sony had also filed for a temporary restraining order and asked that Hotz's computers be impounded. Further, Hotz would be prevented from sharing any information about the jailbreak or any other method of circumventing the Playstation's copyright protections.
The company also filed a motion for discovery, asking for the personal information of users of Twitter and YouTube who might have a connection with Hotz. Sony was, in essence, asking for the contact information of people who had commented on the video Hotz posted showing how he used the code, as well as people he may have corresponded with via Twitter.
Stewart Kellar, Hotz's lawyer, says the publication of the code on Twitter goes to the heart of the argument that he has been making about the harm Sony says it will suffer because of Hotz. It also means that it is harder for Sony to argue that Hotz should be under a restraining order. Restraining Mr. Hotz will serve no purpose, Kellar said. In court filings, Kellar also argued that since the code Hotz write has been released on to the Internet, it is effectively impossible for him to comply with the restraining order - as demonstrated by the re-tweet.
A hearing on the restraining order is set for tomorrow in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The offending tweet is pictured below:
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