George Hotz can’t discuss the specifics of the legal battle Sony launched against him after he hacked the PlayStation 3 last month, but he’s certainly free to share his general opinions on the greater battle between hackers and the multi-national corporations that loathe them. And that’s just what he did yesterday.
On his new (and aptly titled) “geohot got sued” blog, Hotz criticized Sony’s decision to level up its anti-piracy power by creating new positions within SCEA aimed specifically at “assessing annual SCEA corporate anti-piracy needs.” He compared the move to “hiring more rappers to get your yacht built faster.”
Hotz also painted a bleak picture for companies unwilling to adapt. The massive amount of digital content – legal or not – available online gives them two options, he concluded: innovate, or litigate. Most (including Sony) chose the latter. But some – “iTunes, Netflix, FiOS TV and Hulu” – decided to shake up the formula and reaped the rewards. “Some companies thought outside the box,” he said. “Some companies actually did something for their customers. And succeeded big time.”
He bemoaned previous efforts to stymie the spread of digital content, citing how they only “put money into some lawyers’ pockets, and gave you technophobic CEOs talking points at worthless board meetings.”
He ended the post with what was an ill-advised metaphor at best, saying “I see a lot of parallels with the ‘War on Drugs.’ Most people, me included, admit drugs are a problem, but this whole idea of tackling it with the legal system has never worked and will never work,” he said. “When you shut down a drug ring…another pops up, and the street price remains the same. When you shut down a piracy ring…another pops up, and content remains just as free. Sometimes a drug user is made an example of. Does everyone put down the crack pipe? Of course not. Sometimes a college student who downloaded 30 songs is made an example of. Does everyone run to the nearest Tower Records? Of course not.”
Hotz’s recent legal donation fund apparently succeeded, so maybe it’s time some of that money is spent on a lawyer who will advise his client that comparing the perils of hacking with dealing drugs might not be the best way to frame the argument. The idea is sound in theory: suing hackers and throwing someone who illegally downloaded music or movies in jail as an example won’t fix the underlying problem. However, keeping the focus on fighting for consumers and the right to do what they want to the products they buy might be the better angle.