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Sony Files Suits Against GeoHot and fail0verflow [UPDATE]

Note: DISCLAIMER:, in no way, supports the use of exploitative devices such as this and this post is purely informational. We do not condone piracy of any kind!

According to Geohot and fail0verflow’s web sites, Sony has served them with law suits yesterday evening. PDF copies of three different documents, linked to from their web sites, as well as at the bottom of this post, reveal that Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) is seeking a TPO (temporary restraining order) against both George “geohot” Hotz and fail0verflow because of “their violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).”

failOverflow has since removed any and all information regarding the circumvention technology regarding Technological Protection Measures (TPM), or codes for the PS3 hardware, however geohot still links to his old front page with some informaton and download links.

Geohot was also ordered to “deliver for impoundment any computers, hard drives, CDroms, DVDs, USB stick, and any other storage devices on which any Circumvention Devices are stored in Defendant Hotz’s possession, custody or control.”

On January 11, 2011, Plaintiff Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (“SCEA”) filed a Complaint against Defendants George Hotz (“Defendant Hotz”), Hector Martin Cantero, Sven Peter and Doe Defendants 1 through 100. SCEA has alleged that each Defendant, individually and in concert with the other Defendants, has: (1) circumvented effective technological protection measures (“TPMs”) employed by SCEA to protect against unauthorized access to and/or copying of SCEA’s proprietary PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems (“PS3 System”), and other copyrighted works; and (2) trafficked in circumvention technology, products, services, methods, codes, software tools, devices, component or part thereof, including but not limited to the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (“ECDSA”) Keys, encryption and/or decryption keys, dePKG firmware decrypter program, Signing Tools, 3.55 Firmware Jailbreak, and/or any other technologies that enable unauthorized access to and/or copying of PS3 Systems and other copyrighted works.

SCEA has alleged that Defendants have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) 17 U.S.C. §1201, et seq.; the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, et seq.; and has alleged contributory copyright infringement arising out of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §501, et seq.; as well as related state and common law claims for violation of the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, Cal. Penal Code § 502, et. seq., breach of contract, tortious interference with contractual relations, trespass and common law misappropriation.

The following is some great information from the documents explaining exactly what the TPMs are, as well as what the hackers did that was illegal.

A. SCEA’s PlayStation®3 Computer Entertainment System And Its
Technological Protection Measures
All genuine PS3 Systems are manufactured with technological protection measures that effectively control access to the PS3 System and prevent unlicensed or copied software from playing on the PS3 System. The PS3 System is designed to run multiple levels of authorized, encrypted code in one or more sequences. Each level features TPMs, which control access, encrypt and decrypt code, and authenticate signatures to enable access to the files within the code. One purpose of the PS3 System’s TPMs is to prevent users from playing illegally copied, pirated games. To that end, every file authorized to run on the PS3 System contains an authentic digital signature. SCEA generates each digital signature using a pair of electronic keys (“Keys”). The PS3 System verifies each signature using one of those Keys, which is encrypted and embedded in the system. The other Key is held by SCEA; it is not distributed and cannot be located anywhere in the PS3 System’s code or hardware, or the code of any authorized video game. The PS3 System will not execute a file unless that file contains an authentic digital signature. Unauthorized or unlicensed video game discs (such as those burned from genuine game discs) do not have an authorized signature code. Accordingly, a normally functioning PS3 System will not run those pirated video games. The PS3 System also utilizes access control and encryption. Those TPMs prevent, restrict or otherwise limit access to certain sections of the PS3 System software and hardware. As a result, the TPMs ensure that the PS3 System functions in a safe and reliable manner. They also protect the encrypted firmware, encrypted digital signature Keys and other encrypted Keys that are stored within the PS3 System. Because the PS3 System and its code are protected by these TPMs, users can neither access nor read the signatures or the Keys, and therefore cannot use those elements to gain access to the System to run a pirated video game. Using the types of TPMs discussed above, the PS3 System allows only the operation of legitimate, authorized and approved software that is licensed for distribution in the region or geographical territory of the console’s sale. By taking these precautions, SCEA has been able to protect its exclusive rights to copy, sell, distribute and manufacture video games. In addition, SCEA has been able to protect its substantial investment – and the investment of third-party videogame companies – in the development, creation, and distribution of the PS3 System and compatible video games.

B. SCEA’s Copyrights And Copyright Licenses
SCEA develops and publishes its own interactive entertainment software video games for the PS3 System. SCEA has invested and continues to invest substantial time, effort and expense in the design, development, testing, manufacturing and marketing of its video games. Those games are highly creative and SCEA has obtained copyright registrations to protect them. For example, SCEA owns valid copyright registration for the following video game software: Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (Copyright No. PA 1-616-055); Resistance 2 (Copyright No. PA 1-619-506), and Uncharted Drake’s Fortune (Copyright No. PA 1-611-286). All PlayStation3 video games are programmed with computer code, referred to herein as PlayStation3 Programmer Tools (“PS3 Programmer Tools”), that authenticate authorized video game software and facilitate interaction with the central processing unit and microprocessors in the PS3 System. A video game whose program does not incorporate the PS3 Programmer Tools cannot be played on the PS3 System. The PS3 Programmer Tools are also incorporated within the PS3 System firmware. SCEA is the licensee of the registered copyright for the PS3 Programmer Tools (Copyright No. TX0007208564) and is authorized to sublicense its rights to use, copy and distribute the Tools to third party video game developers and publishers. SCEA also offers licenses to third parties to develop interactive entertainment software products for the PS3 System. These licensees are authorized to use proprietary PlayStation®3 technology to develop video game software for the PS3 System and to publish and distribute their video games. SCEA receives royalties on each PlayStation®3 video game manufactured pursuant to its licenses with third party publishers.

C. Defendants’ Illegal Activities
Since the release of the PS3 System in 2006, software hackers have attempted to write code to run unauthorized software on SCEA’s gaming system. Until a few days ago, the efforts of these hackers were largely thwarted by the TPMs that secure the various levels of the PS3 System. In late December 2010, a hacking group called FAIL0VERFLOW discovered a way to access certain (but not all) levels of the PS3 System by circumventing the corresponding TPMs. At that point, hackers were given the tools to run unauthorized and pirated software on the PS3 System. Building on FAIL0VERFLOW’s work, Defendant Hotz unlawfully gained access to a critical level of the PS3 System by circumventing the corresponding TPMs. In early January 2011, Hotz publicly distributed the circumvention devices necessary to access that level, providing them to the public via the Internet and releasing software code that will allow users to run unauthorized or pirated software on the PS3 System. Unless this Court enjoins Defendants’ unlawful conduct, hackers will succeed in running and distributing Circumvention Devices that run pirated software on the PS3 System.

Sources are all three legal documents which can be read in full here: Complaint, Motion for TRO, and Proposed Order.

G4 interviewed GeoHot to see how he feels about the lawsuit, what’s next in store for him, and he thinks he has a chance against a mega giant like SONY: