Sony vs. The World 1:0 …?

13. April, 2011

So Georg Hotz “caved in” and accepted to sign a settlement agreement (good article). Those quotes aren’t accidental; being accused in a law-suit does odd things to your life and most of them are unpleasant. Being famous isn’t as great as MTV wants you to believe. Ever wondered why all those famous persons are either weird, drug addicts or die early? There might be a connection.

As for Georg, one hell is over and now he gets raped by all his supporters. It’ll wash over, trust me.

So did Sony win? No. Win would mean to prove in court that it’s illegal to decrypt and modify the firmware of the PS3. Which they avoided. If you’re a multi-billion dollar company and someone/something is a threat to one of your most valuable products (my impression after reading what SCEA said during the lawsuit), wouldn’t you want to make sure this issue is fixed once and for all? For some reason, Sony didn’t.

It’s probably because they didn’t want to harm poor Georg.

*hilarious laughter*

Oh man, I’m killing myself. So. Sony caved, Georg won: He’s not going to jail, he isn’t fined, he isn’t prosecuted. He’s a free man. Well, mostly.

He isn’t allowed to do illegal things with “any SONY PRODUCT” (their yelling). Oookaaayy… what exactly is illegal? Wasn’t that one important point that the lawsuit should have settled?

I mean in Europe, it’s legal to reverse engineer any software if you need that knowledge to make it cooperate with some other software (“make it interoperable”) and if you can’t get that knowledge some other way (competitor wants to keep you out of the market, producer is no longer around, etc.). You must not spread the reverse engineered code but you could, for example, write a patch or an installer with it.

And Georg isn’t allowed to talk about the settlement which is confidential. I don’t need to understand this, I guess, but I’m sure he would rather forget this sad story and move on.

So. One guy fixed. I’m sure no other smart person on the planet is going to try this again. Ever.

And one prediction: It seems that Georg has some money left. Instead of wasting it on his own case (which Sony might have dragged out for a decade, for example) he might have invested it in the other lawsuit where chances to win might be much higher – especially with all the notes he got from his case.


Why Sony Should Lose

12. March, 2011

Sony sued Hotz for being smarter than them. Georg didn’t steal, he didn’t break anything physical. No one got hurt in the process. No equipment was mishandled. He just satisfied his curiosity. Bad boy. Down.

Somehow, the world has been turned into a legal nightmare by us. So Georg is smarter than the Sony PS3 engineering team. Or the guy who did the encryption part. Or probably his manager – “I don’t care if it’s ready, we ship on Monday!”

LG sues Sony over some obscure abuse of ideas. “Patents” are they called, I hear. An essential weapon in the global economic wars of the 21st century. Laws are passed which turn curios pupils into bad-ass criminals. For the common good.

It’s traditional. No, really. In the 16th century, people got burned on stakes for examining the human body – things like blood system, bacteria, health, were all a big mystery then (at least in Europe). Instead of supporting the few smart people trying to help, they got killed. For violating the Laws of God. I’m sure that quite a few of the victims were aware that most of those Laws were written down and enacted by non-gods.

Today, companies pour billions into new, great products and are offended when a smart guy finds a flaw that topples their dreams of World Domination™. Losing billions due to someones own stupidity hurts a lot. Better share the hurt. Even better hurt someone else. Is that what we really want?

Inaction is a decision, too, and carries the same responsibility.


So Nie

28. February, 2011

“So Nie” (pronounced like “Sony”) is German and means “never like that.” On February, 23rd, Sony ordered a raid on Alexander ‘graf_chokolo‘ Egorenkov. Alex found the master keys used in the PS3‘s broken encryption system. Epic fail for the guys who wrote the code.

Instead of simply fixing their mistake with a patch (like the other console vendors did), Sony now tries to bully the world into submission. By setting the value of the court case to 1 Million Euros, they make it deliberately impossible for Alex to defend himself in court – just to hire a lawyer would cost € 30’000.

If he could get a good one. Otherwise, it’s just wasted money because a good (expensive) lawyer can get you in jail for damaging the fists of the plaintiff with your face. Repeatedly.

Alex’ response? “If you want me to stop then you should just kill me[…]

So what’s in it for you? For starters, stop buying anything from Sony, the company which really likes to abuse their customers.

If you can’t live without your games, stop buying new games, only second hand ones. They are cheaper, as good as the new ones, you don’t need to be online to play them. And it’s an easy and efficient way to tell Sony how you feel about their behavior.

Unplug your PS3 and play only offline. If a game stops working, return it. That costs them more than you.

Spread the word. Nothing is as expensive as a bad reputation.

Read geohot’s new blog; he’ll announce donation requests there to pay for his lawyers.

The world is the place we make it or the place Sony makes it.

[Update] You might want to read this, too: What’s Happening in the Class Action Against Sony About Removing OtherOS? I really like this quote: “And the plaintiffs have been following the SCEA v. Hotz case, and they noticed what they believe are contradictions between what Sony says in that case and what it says in this one.” Oops.


Sony cracks down on Geohot

7. February, 2011

In an insane attempt to stop the world, Sony has sued George “Geohot” Hotz. Some comments on this:

The court has granted Sony’s request for TRO. In the document, the court rules: “… Hotz shall … preserve, and not destroy, erase, delete, dispose of, or alter any documents or records, … that relate to … the Circumvention Devices, or any communications with any party concerning the manufacture, …” (page 3, 12-22).

Hm … since Geohot distributed that information via his website and the “any party” is the world, doesn’t that mean he must not take the information down? Since taking down the information would mean to alter his homepage which the court ruling strictly forbids …

Or as Dan Gillmor found in his blog post: “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.”

It’s interesting to see that the people, who turned the justice system into what it is today, starting to strangle themselves into it.

“Beware not to lose the war by winning it”
Haul monk to Forne Rako


PS3 was hacked

6. January, 2011
Tux, the Linux penguin

Image via Wikipedia

Like so many people, I was upset that Sony discontinued support for Linux. I understand that it was a security risk (people were dabbling with the encrypted hypervisor and the encryption) but no one really cared enough to actually invest the huge amount of time necessary to really break it. I also understand that supporting Linux was a cost issue for Sony while it didn’t bring that many customers. At the same time, I knew I could run Linux on my PS3 but never did.

So it wasn’t an actual issue for me either, it just upset me. I bought the PS3 for many reasons and being able to run Linux had been one of them. Not the major point but I still got mad when they took that from me.

At the 27C3, they showed how it was hacked but I was intrigued by short appearance of a guy who had analyzed the time it took to break a console and why it was hacked. While piracy is a side effect of hacking a console, it’s probably not the driving force. The statistics say that it took at most 12 months to hack a console make Linux run. The PS3 was unscathed for three years – until Sony stopped support for Linux. After that, the hackers really dug into it and – what surprise – they pwn3d it.

Made me wonder why Sony dropped support? As we know from the history of Microsoft, piracy is actually a major driving force for software sales. The calculation goes a bit like this: If you don’t want to pay for something, it’s hard to force you. But once you’re used to something, and you like it, you stick with it. A good example was Office 97. It wasn’t that great but companies were forced to buy it quickly because all people working at those companies had got free, time limited copies along with their PCs. I’ll let you assume how many people bought the product after the time was up.

The thing was: People took work home (good for the companies), work on it and then bring it back to work. Then, something happened: The “old” Office 95 did display a warning, about 90% the size of the screen “I can’t open this! You may lose your work! Help!” So suddenly, there was a strong pressure on the company to upgrade 95 to 97 – because everyone had got a free copy of Office 97!

The key here is to be able to balance sales with piracy. Microsoft knows the Spiel best: Really smack down on people selling pirate copies but leave the home users alone. C= (and the Amiga) couldn’t play it. In the end, piracy overtook sales and the platform died. The lesson we learn here: Piracy is something that must be managed carefully. No piracy and sales will be much lower than they could be; too much and you go bankrupt.

So here is my heretic thought: Maybe Sony didn’t have enough piracy. ^_^

References: Video of the 27C3 talk “”. Go to the documentation site and search the download links for “console_hacking_2010”. The statistics part is at 05:33.