A Federal court in California has denied Sony's motion to pull the personal information of Twitter and YouTube users who might have downloaded code that allows PlayStations to run with alternative operating systems.
The company had filed a motion for discovery, asking for the personal information of users of Twitter and YouTube who might have a connection with George Hotz, who had published a piece of code on his Web site that allowed a PlayStation 3 to run other operating systems as well as pirated games. 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.
The judge in the case, Susan Illston, denied the motion. Hotz is still under a restraining order that forbids him from offering any methods or software that allow people to modify their Sony PlayStations. 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 in January, would get its restraining order, as the company had to show that the court had jurisdiction over Hotz. But Sony was able to satisfy the judge that Hotz had harmed the company's business by promoting his jailbreaking software and encouraging 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 and 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. The trafficking 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 the restraining order is too broad, as taking away Hotz's computers (as well as his PS3) would 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. The front page of the site currently only has text, with no links.
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.
Sony is facing its own set of problems. A Sony employee accidentally re-tweeted the code key to the PlayStation 3, which would allow any user to get around the very copy protections Sony is currently arguing about in court.
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