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Library of Congress Rejects Exemption, Rules JailBreaking PS3 Illegal


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94w ago - As of October 26, 2012 the Library of Congress has rejected a proposed exemption that would allow for the JailBreaking of video game consoles including the PlayStation 3, ruling that PS3 JailBreaking is to be considered illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ([Register or Login to view links]).

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Because the Register determined that the evidentiary record failed to support a finding that the inability to circumvent access controls on video game consoles has, or over the course of the next three years likely would have, a substantial adverse impact on the ability to make noninfringing uses, the Register declined to recommend the proposed class.

Below are the details, to quote: "B. Video game consoles - software interoperability

Because the Register determined that the evidentiary record failed to support a finding that the inability to circumvent access controls on video game consoles has, or over the course of the next three years likely would have, a substantial adverse impact on the ability to make noninfringing uses, the Register declined to recommend the proposed class.

EFF, joined by Andrew "bunnie" Huang ("Huang" ), FSF, SaurikIT, LLC (SaurikIT), and numerous individual supporters, sought an exemption to permit the circumvention of access controls on video game console computer code so that the consoles could be used with non-vendor-approved software that is lawfully acquired.

EFF observed that modern video game consoles are increasingly sophisticated computing devices that are capable of running not only games but "entire computer operating systems." All three major video game manufacturers, however - Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo - have deployed technological restrictions that force console purchasers to limit their operating systems and software exclusively to vendor-approved offerings. These restrictions require a console owner who would like to install a computer operating system or run a "homebrew" (i.e., independently developed) application to defeat a number of technical measures before they can do so - a process that proponents refer to as "jailbreaking." Proponents sought an exemption they proposed would enable interoperability only with "lawfully obtained software programs," proponents asserted that the exemption would not authorize or foster infringing activities.

In its comments, EFF explained the circumvention process with reference to Sony's PlayStation 3 ("PS3" ). Sony's PS3 employs a series of technological protections so that the console can only install and run authenticated, encrypted code. One such measure is the encryption of the console's firmware, which restricts access to the console. The firmware must be authenticated by the console's "bootloader" software and decrypted before it can be used. Once the firmware has been authenticated and decrypted, it, in turn, authenticates applications before they can be installed or run on the PS3. EFF added that Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii employ similar authentication procedures as technological protection measures.

In further support of its requested exemption, EFF recounted that when Sony launched the PS3 in 2006, it included a software application called "OtherOS" that permitted users to install Linux and UNIX operating systems on their consoles. EFF provided examples of researchers who were able to use these earlier PS3 consoles in lieu of other computer systems to conduct various forms of scientific research, citing an Air Force project that made use of 1700 PS3s, as well as two academic projects employing clusters of PS3s to create high-performance computers. Some of these researchers chose to use clustered PS3s because they were less expensive than the available alternatives. In 2010, however, Sony issued a firmware update for the PS3 that removed the OtherOS functionality. PS3 users were not forced to upgrade, but the failure to adopt the upgrade precluded access to certain gameplay features and might make repair or replacement of the gaming system more difficult.

EFF further asserted that none of the three major console manufacturers currently allows the installation of independently developed applications on their consoles unless the developer may require the developer to license costly development tools. As a result, hobbyists and homebrew developers engage in circumvention to defeat technical restrictions in order to create and run games and other applications on the PS3, Wii, and Xbox consoles.

EFF noted over 450 independently created games and applications for Nintendo's Wii available on the homebrew site WiiBrew.org, as well as some 18 homebrew games and several nongaming applications developed for the PS3 - including a file backup program called "Multiman" and an application that transforms the PS3 into an FTP server - and a handful of other homebrew applications for other platforms and handheld gaming devices. EFF pointed out that there is no strong homebrew community for the Xbox360, attributing this phenomenon to a Microsoft development program that allows developers to publish games "with relative ease."

Proponents argued that manufacturers' technological restrictions on video game consoles not only constrain consumer choice but also inhibit scientific research and homebrew development activities. Pointing to the Register's determination in the last Section 1201 rulemaking that circumvention of technological measures on smartphones to enable interoperability with lawfully obtained applications was a permissible fair use, proponents urged that the same logic should apply here. According to proponents, the restrictions on video game consoles do not protect the value or integrity of copyrighted works but instead reflect a business decision to restrict the applications that users can run on their devices.

EFF explained that a "large community" of console jailbreakers currently exists for all three major video game consoles but noted that such jailbreakers face potential liability under Section 1201(a)(1). As evidence of this, EFF cited recent litigation pursued by Sony against an individual and others who developed a method for jailbreaking the PS3. EFF explained that in January 2010, George Hotz (also known by his online name "GeoHot" ) published a method for among other things, that the defendants had conspired to violate the DMCA.

Finally, a few supporters of EFF's proposal suggested potential scenarios in which a console might need to be jailbroken to effectuate a repair but did not provide any specific evidence of actual repair issues.

The proposal to permit circumvention of video game consoles was vigorously opposed by the Entertainment Software Association ("ESA" ), Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC ("SCEA" or "Sony" ), and Joint Creators. Opponents filed extensive comments in response to EFF's request.

ESA characterized video game consoles as "the center of an intellectual property ecosystem" which makes copyrighted content readily and legally accessible, stating that the entire system depends upon effective and secure access controls. ESA explained that there are at least two potential access controls at issue. To play an unauthorized application, the user must circumvent not only the encryption on the console's firmware, but also modify the firmware to defeat the authentication check access control. It added that once modified, the firmware will operate, but the access controls will be circumvented, effectively allowing the console to run unauthorized content.

SCEA's comments focused on its PS3 console (the dominant example addressed in EFF's proposal). SCEA confirmed that the technological restrictions controlling access to the PS3 protect both its firmware and the copyrighted video games that are developed for that system. As explained by SCEA, allowing circumvention of the PS3 access controls would mean that the basic security checks could be skipped and the firmware freely modified to bypass or eliminate the process by which the video games are authenticated for use on the console, thus making it "virtually certain that successful hackers, under the guise of the exemption, will create the tools games."

Throughout their comments, opponents stressed piracy as an overriding concern, noting that once a user circumvents a console's security measures - even for an ostensibly benign purpose - it becomes a vehicle for unauthorized content. In their view, EFF's attempt to limit the exemption to interoperability with lawful applications would make no difference in practice, because "all known methods for circumventing game console [technological protection measures] necessarily eliminate the measures' ability to preclude the play, reproduction and distribution of infringing content."

In support of their contentions regarding the link between circumvention and piracy, opponents provided documentation of console "hacking packages" that come bundled with applications to play pirated content. They further noted, again with supporting materials, that the homebrew channel installed with a popular Wii hacking package automatically includes applications that enable the console to play pirated content. They pointed out, with still further support in the record, that the "Multiman" backup system referenced by EFF as an example of a useful application enabled by jailbroken PS3s is used to decrypt and copy protected PS3 games so they can be illegally distributed. Other documentary evidence submitted by opponents showed that the PS3 FTP file server application described by EFF is used as a means to transfer illegal files. Opponents also furnished multiple examples of advertisements for console jailbreaking services that included (for an all-in price) a library of pirated games.

Opponents pointed to online forums and other sources that specifically referenced George Hotz's hack of the PS3 - described sympathetically by EFF in its proposal - as permitting users to play pirated games and content, and provided representative postings. The documentation evidenced a broadly shared perception in the gaming community that jailbreaking leads to piracy would negatively impact the development of new games.

Possibly referring to Hotz, SCEA elaborated on the hacking issue by commenting specifically on the events surrounding a 2010 breach of its PS3 system. In that case, hackers announced that they had successfully circumvented the technological measures on PS3 firmware, which was accomplished by exploiting vulnerabilities in Linux operating in the OtherOS environment. Although the hackers stated that they did not endorse or condone piracy, one hacker subsequently published PS3's encryption keys on the internet, which were quickly used to create jailbreak software to permit the use of illegally made games. Sony saw an immediate rise in the number of illegal copies but no increase in homebrew development, while sales of legitimate software "declined dramatically." As a result of the hack, Sony decided it had no choice but to discontinue OtherOS and issued a system upgrade that disabled OtherOS functionality for those who wished to maintain access to Sony's PlayStation network.

Mindful of the exemption established by the Librarian in the prior proceeding to permit jailbreaking of smartphones, opponents urged that video game consoles are not the equivalent of iPhones, asserting that the technological measures on game consoles legitimately protect the creation and dissemination of copyrighted works by discouraging pirated content and protecting creators' investment in new games. Opponents distinguished the development of a video game - a long and intensive process "akin to motion picture production" involving a team of developers that can cost tens of millions of dollars - from the relative ease and inexpensiveness of creating a smartphone application. According to opponents, the development of new video games would be significantly impaired without reliable technological protections to protect developers' investments.

homebrew programs, opponents observed that while EFF's request focused on the PS3, the homebrew community for that device is small, as evidenced by the fact that less than one-tenth of one percent of PS3 users (fewer than 2,000 in all) had made use of the PS3's OtherOS feature. In any event, they noted, there are over 4,000 devices on which Linux can be run without the need for circumvention, and homebrew games and applications can be played on a wide array of open platform devices. Opponents further observed that each of the three major video game console manufacturers has a program to support independent developers in creating and publishing compatible games.

Finally, opponents disputed proponents' suggestion that circumvention is necessary to repair broken game consoles, explaining that each console maker offers authorized repair services free of charge for consoles still under warranty for a nominal fee thereafter.

Although EFF sought to rely upon the Register's 2010 determination that modification of smartphone software to permit interoperability with non-vendor-approved applications was a fair use, the Register concluded that the fair use analysis for video consoles diverged from that in the smartphone context. Unlike in the case of smartphones, the record demonstrated that access controls on gaming consoles protect not only the console firmware, but the video games and applications that run on the console as well. The evidence showed that video games are far more difficult and complex to produce than smartphone applications, requiring teams of developers and potential investments in the millions of dollars. While the access controls at issue might serve to further manufacturers' business interests, they also protect highly valuable expressive works - many of which are created and owned by the manufacturers - in addition to console firmware itself.

claimed would be enabled by circumvention might well constitute transformative uses. On the other hand, circumventing console code to play games and other entertainment content (even if lawfully acquired) is not a transformative use, as the circumvented code is serving the same fundamental purpose as the unbroken code. While the second and third fair use factors did not greatly affect the analysis, on the significant question of market harm, the Register concluded that opponents had provided compelling evidence that circumvention of access controls to permit interoperability of video game consoles - regardless of purpose - had the effect of diminishing the value of, and impairing the market for, the affected code, because the compromised code could no longer serve as a secure platform for the development and distribution of legitimate content. The Register noted that instead of countering this evidence with a factual showing to prove opponents wrong, EFF merely asserted that its proposal would not permit infringing uses. The Register did not believe that this response satisfied proponents' obligation to address the "real-world impact" of their proposed exemption. Overall, the Register found that proponents had failed to fulfill their obligation to establish persuasively that fair use could serve as a basis for the exemption they sought.

The Register further found that even if proponents had satisfied their burden of establishing noninfringing uses, they nonetheless failed to demonstrate that video game console access controls have or are likely to have a substantial adverse impact on such uses. Proponents identified two broad categories of activities that were allegedly threatened by the prohibition on circumvention, scientific research and homebrew software development. With respect to scientific research, a small number of research projects involving only one type of gaming console, the PS3, suggested a de minimis impact, if any. This conclusion was reinforced by record evidence indicating that Sony had in fact cooperated with and been a supporter of marketplace.

Nor, according to the Register's analysis, did the record support a finding that Section 1201(a)(1) is having a substantial adverse impact on lawful homebrew activities. The most significant level of homebrew activity identified by EFF appears to have occurred in relation to the Wii, but the record was relatively sparse in relation to other gaming platforms. Concerning the use of video game consoles to operate Linux software generally, the record showed that only a very small percentage of PS3 users availed themselves of the (now discontinued) OtherOS option that permitted users to run Linux on their PS3s. At the same time, there are thousands of alternative devices that can be used to develop and run Linux-based video games and other applications. In addition, the record indicated that developers can and do take advantage of various manufacturer programs to pursue independent development activities.

Finally, as noted above, the Register determined that proponents offered no factual basis in support of their suggestion that users are having difficulty repairing their consoles as a result of Section 1201(a)(1). This appeared to be only a hypothetical concern, as proponents failed to document any actual instances of users seeking to make repairs.

The Register therefore concluded that proponents had failed to establish that the prohibition on circumvention, as applied to video game console code, is causing substantial adverse effects.

Turning to the statutory factors, the Register took issue with proponents' view that piracy was an irrelevant consideration because the exemption they sought was only to allow interoperability with "lawfully obtained applications." The Register explained that she could not ignore the record before her. Even if piracy were not the initial or intended purpose for circumvention, the record substantiated opponents' assessment that in the case of video games, console jailbreaking leads to a higher level of infringing activity, thus sharply distinguishing the case of video consoles from smartphones, where the record did not support the same finding. The evidence also suggested that the restriction limiting the proposed class to "lawfully obtained" applications - which the Register has found effective in other contexts - did not provide adequate assurance in this case. The Register noted that simply to suggest, as proponents had, that unlawful uses were outside the scope of the exemption and therefore of no concern was not a persuasive answer.

Finally, the Register agreed with proponents' assessment that the access controls protecting video game console code facilitate a business model, as many technological restrictions do. But the Register concluded that in the case of gaming platforms, that was not the sole purpose. Console access controls protect not only the integrity of the console code, but the copyrighted works that run on the consoles. In so doing, they provide important incentives to create video games and other content for consoles, and thus play a critical role in the development and dissemination of highly innovative copyrighted works.

NTIA supported the "innovative spirit epitomized by independent developers and researchers whose needs proponents contemplate in this class," but noted that the evidence in the record was insufficient to support the considerable breadth of the proposed class. NTIA asserted that the record was unclear with respect to the need for an exemption to enable software interoperability, and that there was compelling evidence of reasonable alternatives available for research purposes. NTIA was also "cognizant of the proposal's likely negative impact on the underlying business model that has enabled significant growth and innovation in the video game industry."

Although NTIA did not support the exemption as requested by proponents, it did support a limited exemption to allow videogame console owners to repair or replace hardware console and authorized replacement parts are no longer on the market." As explained above, however, the Register found that the record lacked any factual basis upon which to recommend the designation of even such a limited class."

Among these idiot rulings includes unlocking smartphones (which pretty much any handheld device is considered a "smartphone"), jailbreaking tablets, and ripping DVDs for home uses.




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Comments 47 Comments - Go to Forum Thread »

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PS3GAMER20111's Avatar
#37 - PS3GAMER20111 - 94w ago
Well I got news for you. It sends the info if your on the network. You dont have to be signed in for them to know what your doing.

So if your signed in or not it doesn't matter. If your console in on the network with internet access the second you turn it on they know and its recorded. The second you launch anything its send to Sony and they record it. When they want to ban people they just look at your log for any banned apps like MultiMan and if any homebrew is in that list you get banned.

I never played any homebrew online, I never even played multiplayer games I was only playing singleplayer games and I got my console and account banned. they said they detected homebrew on a modded console.
Thanks for info.. I will think twice before going online. I think now I will stop playing online for some time because I played online for too much time (20-30hrs).

GrandpaHomer's Avatar
#36 - GrandpaHomer - 94w ago
Frankly, most of the "protection" arguments are just blah blah blah ... How come nobody is concern about PCs / MACs being fully opened (e.g. NOT "protected")? How come the developers are still making games for such platforms, eh?

Also - it's true about most of the developers / producers RIPPING off the gamers. How many times you see new games now being followed very shortly after or even upon release with the suit of ovepriced DLCs? ... What a shame

vallejo18's Avatar
#35 - vallejo18 - 94w ago
The law was made in and specifically for the US, not Brazil, Canada, or even Russia. I don't think the UN would bring this such case into their office to make it a worldwide thing.

The people here in the US think differently oppose to those in other countries, You're right about the expensiveness in your country maybe but IDK.. My focal point is in the US.

In the US, nobody really start pirating extremely until 2006, years after the PS2 being fully hacked... That was when the Fat consoles were $600 for us. (I got my 2 PS3's for $100 off Ebay Fat and Slim, Lucky deal)

Anyways, here in the US people are cheap.. well minorities and the only reason why many people Jailbreak is because of people not being able to afford it, so the natural reaction is to steal it.

Now there are some people who just get a thrill out of it for no reason but thats just a 2% of the population... 15% Do it because they cannot afford it.. 20% Pirate to play to see if they like it, if so, support the developers by buying it.. and the 63% Just buy the damn game whether its good or not.

Do you see where I'm getting at? Here is what happens if the cost was lower for NEW games, Hell even USED games down here are even higher:

New games: $20 = Increase in developer pockets---> More people demanding it... More people being able to buy it.

Used Games: $10 = Same results (If gamestop ever stop ripping people off)

People who are broke: 53%, Rich: 23% , Middle: 24%
(Everybody will be getting it)

New and used games of this time:
New: $60 - $100 Used: $20 - $30
People who are broke: 53%, Rich: 23% , Middle: 24%
(Rich and some middle class will buy New + Used)
(Broke will go to Gamestop, which don't profit developers via USED)

So as for US, It will not STOP piracy to the 2% BUT it will be less of an issue.

BluRay's Avatar
#34 - BluRay - 94w ago
Brazil is less developed country, people get payed much less than in MDCs and yet the prices are way higher. Ya know that $300 Slim you guys have? A year ago I bought one for $600 and the sad thing is, THAT WAS CHEAP. A friend got his for $800. Believe It or not, the first fat model came here for over $3000, take a look below.

My imported Tales of Xillia copy with shipping + customs was almost $200, regular games are anywhere from $80 (rare though) to $150. Those prices you said as far from expensive, decent games can give you hundreds of hours of fun, heck, I've probably played U3 online for more than 300 hours, bought It for $100, in a way, I can say It costed me 0,30 cents/hour. Thats actually VERY cheap.

Btw, would you buy a car without the money to buy fuel? I doubt so, It's luxury, nobody needs a car and It's expensive, the same thing goes for consoles, don't have cash for games? No? Then don't buy It. PS2 was actually one of the consoles that "suffered" the most from piracy, perhaps even more then Wii, so no, cheap games won't fight piracy, people are cheap and want free things.

I'm not a hypocrite, I do pirate a few things (songs mostly) and so does most people, but sincerely, there is no reason to justify It, saying something is too expensive is far from being a good argument, specially if you live in more developed countries, you guys simply don't know what "expensive" actually is.

vallejo18's Avatar
#33 - vallejo18 - 94w ago
They are too late. The PS3 era is coming to an conclusion even before this law once the LV0 keys outbreak, that marked the end of the PS3. Let's look at the history of sony:

PS1 Modding Conclusion:
Law: No Modified Dumps (Aftermath)
Result: PS1 emulator on all platforms (Windows, Android, iPhone, Linux, Mac, etc.)

PS2 Modding Conclusion:
Law: No modified chips via Solder (Aftermath)
Results: PS2 fully hacked (hardware and software via FreeMcBoot & SwapMagic) and emulator for Windows, Mac, Linux, and PS3.

PSP Modding Conclusion:
Law: No Homebrew software, modified software changes (Aftermath)
Result: PSP fully hacked (via CFW) and (WIP) Emulators for Multiplatforms.

PS3 Modding Conclusion:
Law: No software or hardware modifications. (Aftermath)
Result: PS3 Keys are unlocked (via CFW + Flashers), (WIP) PS3 Partially hacked.

PS Vita and PS4 is next...

Moral of the Story: Sony needs to just stop, they must know that greed leads to defeat, NEW hardware, NEW rules, NEW loopholes, you cannot dictate the future. Sony, you have NO control.

I find that this was very predictable, the media has always related hacking PS3 with piracy and sadly, they're right, most people that are here just want free games. I believe renting or buying used games actually does more harm than piracy, but while Sony has been getting lucky against the ps3 scene, I don't think they would stand a chance against that.


Sorry, but that makes perfect sense, pirating a 60$ game does more harm than pirating a 5$ app, lol.
What also makes perfect sense is to not spend millions of dollars and time trying to ban something. Instead make things more affordable... The only reason why piracy exists. Look back at the PS2 era and why it was the best... GAMES were nearly $10- $20 and they were good....The best thing to do to stop piracy is to do something that seems to be too complicated... Lower the video game standards to $10 - $20. $60 - $100 in games is indeedly stupid.

*Side Note: People bought more PS3 in order to use CFW, why is this actually a problem for Sony. Due to 'piracy' although I personally do not condone, people are actually supporting the developers by buying the game based on how much they liked it. To them it is a sense of freedom of demo playing to get the full effect instead of being pressured to pay at a redbox or gamefly.

In retro, I cannot account for the evil ones who just want to rip of the developers that are actually good. This era was a perfect example on how games are no longer about or for the players. It's not about how well the game is, its how well can the companies can rip off and make profits. I also do not support GAMESTOP whatsoever. I use to work for them, Shady, Shady, Shady. 'Power to the Players' is a lie.

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