Sony has filed several documents with the courts in California in an effort to show that the courts there have jurisdiction over a hacker who publicized a jailbreak for the PlayStation 3 console.
Last Tuesday Sony Computer Entertainment America sued George Hotz, a hacker who posted a method of defeating part of the firmware PS3 consoles that prevents them from running other operating systems. The company filed for a temporary restraining order. The complaint says Hotz, Hector Martin Cantero, Sven Peter, and John Does one through 100 violated copyright, the computer fraud and abuse act, as well as violations of California law.
The documents in question - mostly screen shots of George Hotz's web site and his twitter accounts -- seem to show that Hotz traveled to California during a cross-country drive. One entry from September of 2009 mentions two week-long trips to California, while another from October of that year says he has a trip to San Diego planned.
Judge Susan Ilston, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said Sony had to show that Hotz has some connection to California if Sony is to claim damages for his work on the PS3. Hotz's lawyer, Stewart Kellar, 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.
If the court decides in Sony's favor, the next set of issues to be litigated are whether Hotz is bound by the terms of service for the PlayStation Network, and whether he has any connection with the other two defendants in the suit.
On the latter point, some of the exhibits filed by Sony are twitter logs and web pages that purport to show the other defendants and Hotz knew each other and acted together to distribute the information on the jailbreak.
Kellar says in one of his briefs that Hotz never used the PSN to distribute the jailbreaking software. He also said in his filings that Hotz has no connection with the other two defendants in the suit, as they released their own methods of hacking PS3s to the public generally and that doesn't demonstrate that Hotz acted in concert with them.
A restraining order would basically mean that Hotz's computers and equipment would be handed over to Sony and its attorneys. He would also be prohibited from publishing any of the work he has done regarding jailbreaks for the PS3, doing any more such work himself, and providing any links to information about such jailbreaks.
Kellar argues that would make it difficult for Hotz to make a living, as much of the work he does relates to those very topics. Handing over his computers could also compromise personal information.
Sony claims irreparable and immediate harm, the test for whether a restraining order can be granted. Kellar says the harm Sony says it would suffer without a restraining order has already been done. The code necessary to jailbreak the Sony PlayStation computer is on the internet. That cat is not going back in the bag, he wrote in his filing.
A video of the jailbreak was released by Hotz, who goes by the user ID geohot, on YouTube. On his blog he has a link to the software, which can be loaded on to any PS3, though the front page mentions that he was served with a temporary restraining order on Tuesday evening.
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.