It has been a rough week for George “GeoHot” Hotz and the Fail0verflow team, as they’ve been hit with legal action from Sony for their contributions to the PS3 hacker community by figuring out and posting the “root key” that can be used to sign custom applications for the popular console. The guys won’t retreat without a fight, however, and the legal team that Hotz has hired to represent his side of the case released a statement to the public on Friday proclaiming that this isn’t about their client, but rather the effect that a case like this could have in individual property rights.
“Make no mistake, this case is not about Sony attempting to protect its intellectual property or otherwise seek bona fide relief from the court. Rather, it’s an attempt from Sony to send A MESSAGE THAT ANY INDIVIDUAL USING Sony hardware in a way Sony does not deem appropriate will result in harsh legal consequences from a multi-billion dollar company, irrespective of any legal basis or authority for such action,” says intellectual attorney and self-proclaimed “e-ttorney”, Stewart Kellar.
“This case not only has profound implications for the parties involved, but it also implicates core property rights for every consumer out there,” Kellar explains.
Yasha Heidari, the managing partner at Heidari Power Law Group is also representing Hotz, and compared Sony’s actions to remove the PS3 Other OS capability via disabling firmware is like a mechanic disabling features on a car that is taken in for repair.
“While most companies issue firmware upgrades to increase a products abilities over its life cycle, Sony has taken the unacceptable and draconian approach of decreasing the PS3’s capabilities by actually destroying a core feature of the PS3. Imagine taking in your car for an oil change and having the manufacturer remove your car’s air conditioner, radio, and half its horsepower because of fears that other hypothetical individuals might abuse their vehicles,” Heidari says in the press release. “It just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s a slap in the face to the consumers that put their support behind the product. This case rests on Sony’s misguided belief that it has the unfettered ability to control how consumers use the products they legitimately purchase.
Hotz also spoke out on the case in an interview Thursday with G4’s Attack of the Show. He said that he finds his current situation to be “exciting” and “scary at the same time.” He too stressed that this case is not about him.
“This case is about a lot more than what I did and me. It’s about whether you really own that device that you purchased,” Hotz told G4 viewers.
Though the case has just begun, Hotz got a bit of a reprieve Friday when a California court ruled that he did not have to turn over his computer equipment and code. US District Judge Susan Illston also questioned the jurisdiction her court actually has over the case since Hotz doesn’t even reside in California.
“If having a PayPal account were enough, then there would be personal jurisdiction in this court over everybody, and that just can’t be right,” Illston told Sony‘s legal team. “That would mean the entire universe is subject to my jurisdiction, and that’s a really hard concept for me to accept.”
There will certainly be a long road ahead, but Illston’s ruling today is certainly a positive sign that Sony is going to have to fight hard to get their way. If Hotz’s attorneys are as confident as they sound, the case is definitely in good hands.