Update: Sony Must Show It Can Sue PS3 Hacker

  @ibtimes on January 14 2011 5:32 PM

A California court today asked that Sony show it has jurisdiction over the hacker who publicized a jailbreak for the Playstation 3 console.

Judge Susan Ilston, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said Sony has to show that George Hotz, a hacker who posted a method of jailbreaking PS3 consoles, has some connection to California if Sony is to claim damages for his work on the PS3.

On Tuesday, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed for a temporary restraining order against George Hotz, a hacker who posted a method of jailbreaking PS 3 consoles, allowing them to run other operating systems and software not authorized by Sony. 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.

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 there is no connection then Sony must refile the case in New Jersey.

Even if the court decides in Sony's favor, there are still other substantive issues that have to be decided. For example, Sony claims Hotz is bound by the terms of service for the Playstation Network, but Hotz, Kellar says in his brief, never used the PSN to distribute the jailbreaking software.

The objection also states 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.

Sony also 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 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 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.

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