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Electronic Frontier Foundation Reports on Sony / GeoHot PS3 Case


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205w ago - Since the news first broke of Sony taking legal action against PlayStation 3 hacker GeoHot, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has now posted a report on their views of the current pending case.

To quote: "Sony v. Hotz: Sony Sends A Dangerous Message to Researchers - and Its Customers

For years, EFF has been [Register or Login to view links] that the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can be used to chill speech, particularly security research, because legitimate researchers will be afraid to publish their results lest they be accused of circumventing a technological protection measure. We've also been concerned that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could be abused to try to make alleged contract violations into crimes.

We've never been sorrier to be right. These two things are precisely what's happening in Sony v. Hotz. If you have missed this one, Sony has [Register or Login to view links] several security researchers for publishing information about security holes in Sony's PlayStation 3. At first glance, it's hard to see why Sony is bothering – after all, the research was presented three weeks ago at the Chaos Communication Congress and promptly circulated around the world.

The security flaws discovered by the researchers allow users to run Linux on their machines again – something Sony used to support but recently started trying to prevent. Paying lawyers to try to put the cat back in the bag is just throwing good money after bad. And even if they won – we'll save the legal analysis for another post – the defendants seem unlikely to be able to pay significant damages. So what's the point?

The real point, it appears, is to send a message to security researchers around the world: publish the details of our security flaws and [Register or Login to view links] with both barrels blazing. For example, Sony has [Register or Login to view links] to immediately impound all "circumvention devices" – which it defines to include not only the defendants' computers, but also all "instructions," i.e., their research and findings. Given that the research results Sony presumably cares about are available online, granting the order would mean that everyone except the researchers themselves would have access to their work.

Not content with the DMCA hammer, Sony is also bringing a slew of [Register or Login to view links] Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims. The basic gist of Sony's argument is that the researchers accessed their own PlayStation 3 consoles in a way that violated the agreement that Sony imposes on users of its network (and supposedly enabled others to do the same).

But the researchers don't seem to have used Sony's network in their research – they just used the consoles they bought with their own money. Simply put, Sony claims that it's illegal for users to access their own computers in a way that Sony doesn't like. Moreover, because the CFAA has criminal as well as civil penalties, Sony is actually saying that it's a crime for users to access their own computers in a way that Sony doesn't like.

That means Sony is sending another dangerous message: that it has rights in the computer it sells you even after you buy it, and therefore can decide whether your tinkering with that computer is legal or not. We disagree. Once you buy a computer, it's yours. It shouldn't be a crime for you to access your own computer, regardless of whether Sony or any other company likes what you're doing.

Finally, even if the researchers had used Sony's network, Sony's claim that it's a crime to violate its terms of use has been firmly rejected by courts in cases like [Register or Login to view links] and [Register or Login to view links]. As those courts have recognized, companies like Sony would have tremendous coercive power if they could enforce their private, unilateral and easy-to-change agreements with threats of criminal punishment.

Sony's core arguments – that it can silence speech that reveals security flaws using the DMCA and that the mere fact of a terms of use somewhere gives a company permanent and total control over what you do with a device under pain of criminal punishment – are both sweeping and frightening, and not just for gamers and computer researchers. Frankly, it's not what we expect from any company that cares about its customers, and we bet it's not what those customers expect, either."



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#23 - barrybarryk - 205w ago
barrybarryk's Avatar
yep very true, i'm half expecting sony to announce the psp2 for release around october time. Just in time for parents to be tortured into paying the ridiculous launch prices so santa can be up to spec.

#22 - NCSUfan - 205w ago
NCSUfan's Avatar
Amen and I was not trying to start a arguement. All i can say is from my personal exp working in electronic store for years, its PARENTS not kids that buy 70% of consoles.

Kids get games, mommy and daddy buy the consoles. There are exceptions of course... and being that we are on a ps3 website theres a higher probability of being core gamers and ergo more likely to get their own consoles.

The overwhelming majority will wait it out a year at least, b/c prices since the ps1 and sega saturn have been insultingly unrealistic their first fiscal year... its usually the spoiled brats or blind fans that I see paying a kings ranson the first year.

But you are right on the money when you say if you want it first, your gonna pay more for it. LED tvs used to be $3k just 2 years ago now that its more in line with what the everyday person can afford, many more have HD tvs now. ps1-3 were no exception, ps4 wont be either. If your not just a super hardcore gamer (and lets be honest... many of them just want the feather in their cap of saying they are the first to have X system) the price the first year is just unrealistic.

That IS a lot of money... go ask your parents kiddo.

#21 - KRaZE - 205w ago
KRaZE's Avatar
Don't be mad. Quit acting like $400 or even $500 is a lot of money, I put damn near half of that into savings every week!

Bending over and taking it from Sony? Go buy your brokeass a xbox off of craigslist plz.

#20 - barrybarryk - 205w ago
barrybarryk's Avatar
are you guys actually argueing about a boycott of a fictional console?

And its not just Sony or even games consoles that are expensive for early adopters, if you want it early you'll have to pay more thats been the standard for electrical goods for years and won't change.

Look at the 3DS, here in the UK it'll hit the market at £230 with a trade price of £173. For the first few months the price will stay high due to demand it'll only start closing the gap between the trade and consumer prices once companies have to work to shift them.

#19 - NCSUfan - 205w ago
NCSUfan's Avatar
yes heaven forbide someone not fight you for the privilege of a wildly overpriced console... that, if the ps3 is any model to follow... won't have more than 5 good games for several years.

I'm not to the point I would boycott the ps4 for sonys efforts... I'd boycott it just as I did the ps2 and ps3 the first price cycle as anyone with a brain sees how overly hyped and overpriced they were.

After a year or so when decent games come and a price drop to a respectable level I may jump then... but you seem to mock someone for not bending over and taking it from sony, I don't get that, I'm of the opinion the VAST majority of gamers are pointing and laughing at the losers waiting in line to get boned by sony on day 1 launch.

If you feel the way you do, cool beans, piss away mommys mom on a system that will be $100-200 cheaper in one year, but do know that just like the 3 consles before it the majority of normal gamers will wait and let you work out all the kinks before making the leap to a new console... as well as a realistic and fair price.

Its those day 1 wackos that blindly take anything labeled as sony that are holding em back in my book, psn won't get to xboxlive with people just backing something bc of the company, buy your shit b/c its smart and a good deal not because you're a fan boy.

 

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