Thoughts on the Sony Jailbreak Lawsuit

You may have heard that Sony’s lawsuit against GeoHot and failoverflow was made official today (although, we knew it was coming when they took out that restraining order, lets be honest). If you don’t know whats happened, let me explain in layman’s terms. Essentially, to run any game or program on a PS3, it must be “signed” with a private key, which is essentially a long string of characters that encrypts the game or program. Then, each console has its own key, which is similar, and can be used to decrypt the game, therefore proving it is an official game. The reason that no one has managed to run anything on a PS3 before last week is because no one had this key, as it was kept in a secure Sony facility.

However (and this is where my knowledge of what exactly happened gets a bit sketchy), a group called failoverflow managed to figure out how to do something with the PS3’s key system, and then the next week, GeoHot (a famous iOS and PS3 hacker) managed to use the same method to figure out the master private key. This would theoretically allow anyone to install whatever they want on their PS3, therefore leading to the inevitable end of people finally getting Linux back on their PS3s (which, btw, we paid for in the first place). This is fantastic news for people like me (hackers and computer scientists) because it means we can use our consoles to the full potential. The cell processor can do a lot more than people are doing just now with games and stuff, and this is great. Geohot actually posted a video showing him running a homebrew program on his PS3.

However, today, Sony filed a lawsuit against Geohot and the members of failoverflow, basically suing the living daylights out of them. Apart from my anger towards Sony, there are a few things we can take from this:

  1. This is a permanent hack – if Sony could fix this with a software update, they would. They didn’t bother trying to sue GeoHot when they could fix what he did with a software update, therefore they are screwed with this. There is nothing they can do, so they decide to sue.
  2. They are obviously not releasing the PS4 anytime soon. This lawsuit will cost them time and money, and if they were going to be announcing the PS4 in June at E3, then they wouldn’t go to all this expense and bother.

Now, before you start harping on about software piracy, this is nothing to do with that. Yes, sure, some people will use it to clone games, but you can’t get away from that fact, and I don’t care, because thats not what I, and most people, want to do with this software. I want to install linux, I want to write small programs for my PS3, and I want to be able to play indie games, and have random little Open Source programs that people make for it. This is what I want, not to rip games and play them without buying them. Most of us aren’t like that. The people involved with this hack want openness and want to be able to use their consoles to the full potential that they can. Nothing more.

Do you stop something because someone might use it for bad? No. Unless the majority uses it for bad, then you just deal with individual people. You don’t ban cars because occasionally people use them to run people down deliberately. And this isn’t even killing anyone if people do it.

I am not for piracy, I am for openness and being able to use my console to its full potential, and in 1 case actually being able to use 1 of the features I bought with it (linux support) which Sony took away. Ironically, to stop this happening :-P

1 last point…I just hope that Apple’s jailbreaking case loss is enough within case law to warrant this being legal as well. If you look at the list of laws that are supposodly broken with this, it seems to be a load of rubbish. I’m obviously not a lawyer, but I’m sure using my PS3 for what I want does not count as “accessing computers without authorization”. Erm, its my computer…

The worry for me, is that if Sony wins, then suddenly we have Apple, and many other companies, trying to stop us using our computers and phones fully. I hacked the bootloader on my phone so I could run modified software on it. I’m not breaking any laws, so why shouldn’t I be able to do that? Its pretty much the same issue.

P.s – The PS3 logo is a registered trademark of Sony…blah blah blah…you know the drill, right?