Sony makes deal to end litigation against PlayStation hacker

Following an attack by hacktivist group Anonymous, and worldwide bad press, Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony has agreed to cut a deal and drop the lawsuit with a US hacker who in turn agreed to stop breaking into PlayStation 3 (PS3) videogame consoles.

“It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier,” hacker George Hotz said in a joint statement released by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA). “I’m happy to have the litigation behind me.”

Sony went to court early this year to stop hackers who figured out how to “jailbreak” PS3 consoles to operate on software other than that originally installed by the firm.

SCEA accused Hotz of violating federal law by posting online information that could be used to circumvent the PS3 security system and allow play of pirated videogames.

A judge granted Sony a restraining order against Hotz, a 23-year-old New Jersey resident, and the case was to be heard in a federal district court in San Francisco.

Sony wanted Hotz taken to task for violations of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a Computer Fraud Abuse Act.

Hotz, who is credited with being the first person to go public with a way to hack into an iPhone, has denied doing anything wrong.

“Sony is glad to put this litigation behind us,” said SCEA general counsel Riley Russell.

“Our motivation for bringing this litigation was to protect our intellectual property and our consumers,” Russell said. “We believe this settlement and the permanent injunction achieve this goal.”

“We want our consumers to be able to enjoy our devices and products in a safe and fun environment and we want to protect the hard work of the talented engineers, artists, musicians and game designers who make PlayStation games and support the PlayStation Network,” Russell continued.

“We appreciate Mr. Hotz’s willingness to address the legal issues involved in this case and work with us to quickly bring this matter to an early resolution.”

Hotz was not involved with recent cyber attacks on Sony websites and Internet services, according to the PS3 maker.

Internet vigilante group Anonymous had vowed retribution against Sony for taking legal action against hackers who cracked PS3 defenses to change console operating software.

A message signed by Anonymous at website early this month announced an “Operation Payback” campaign aimed at Sony because of its cases against Hotz and Alexander Egorenkov.

The case against Egorenkov, who also maintains his innocence, is playing out in Germany.

Anonymous argued that PS3 console owners have the right to do what they wish with them, including modifying them.

The hacker group retaliated against Sony by attacking the company’s websites. – AFP



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