Sony has reached an agreement with PlayStation 3 hacker George "Geohotz" Hotz. They dropped their lawsuit in exchange for his promise to never again tinker with the game console or any Sony product. Hotz got into trouble after publishing an encryption key and software tools in January that let Playstation owners gain complete control of the game console, or jailbreak it. He was accused of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in addition to other laws.
The DCMA prohibits the trafficking of "circumvention devices" which are designed to get around copy-protection. Hotz did not need to receive payment for the jailbreaking instructions in order to be in violation of the law. The jailbreak that Hotz posted allowed PS3 owners to run home-brewed software or alternative operating systems like Linux. It also was a prerequisite to running pirated games.
Hotz is also known for jailbreaking iPhones, which is not illegal.
According to the terms of the settlement (in San Francisco federal court), Hotz agreed not to do any more “reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling any portion” of a Sony product. He also agreed not to “bypass, disable, or circumvent any encryption, security, or authentication mechanism.”
If he does, he will be faced with a $10,000 fine per violation.
Hotz said in an email to Wired.com, “I am not able to speak on this matter without breaching my settlement agreement. Therefore, I have no comment other than this one. With that said, I do not like censorship, and I do not like censoring myself. Rest assured I am still fighting the good fight, in the best way I know how.”
Sony had gone after Hotz, convincing a judge to order him to remove the hack from his website, hand over his hard drives to Sony, and Sony also gained subpoenas to Hotz's PayPal, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
Sony may have tired of the negative publicity that the case was generating, and feared the very negative consequences if they lost. Last year, the U.S. Copyright Office granted an exception to the DCMA for jailbreaking mobile phones, but videogame consoles are still protected.
[via Wired Threat Level]