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Geohot To Turn Over Computers To Neutral Third Party 117

intellitech writes "This will make a lot of you feel better. Groklaw is reporting that both parties have come up with a stipulation in Sony Computer Entertainment American v. Hotz regarding what Hotz must do about handing over his computers. The new Preliminary Injunction (PDF) now says that he is to turn his materials over to a 'neutral' third party, not to SCEA's lawyers, and after the neutral party combs through them, it all is returned to Hotz. All but whatever they 'segregate' out of them. He won't get that back until the end of the litigation, should he prevail, which this court at least currently thinks is less likely than that Sony will. There will be a hearing on Hotz's motion to dismiss on April 8, 2011."
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Geohot To Turn Over Computers To Neutral Third Party

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  • Would he not just have deleted anything to do with Sony along time ago? Or better yet, worked from removable media.

    • I hope not (Score:4, Informative)

      by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:25AM (#35253314) Homepage Journal

      Would he not just have deleted anything to do with Sony along time ago? Or better yet, worked from removable media.

      This is a civil case, however deleting evidence after being told to hand it over is a criminal offence

      • To prove that there was evidence deleted, you have to prove it existed in the first place.

        • To prove that there was evidence deleted, you have to prove it existed in the first place.

          Absence of evidence can be evidence of absence in certain situations.

          To greatly simplify things: There is a room with a fire in the center and nothing else. A judge tells me not to burn any paper I may have in my pockets. I go into the room, and I come out and they search me and the room and find no paper. I say that I never had the paper.

          Then the present evidence of me putting paper into my pockets earlier, and

          • by Anonymous Coward

            There's also the issue of having to prove it was deleted *after* the order to hand it over was given.

            • Re:I hope not (Score:4, Informative)

              by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Saturday February 19, 2011 @12:05PM (#35254220) Journal

              Hi MR AC! The problem is the MFT [] bites you in the ass every single time without fail. I have a friend that works in the state crime lab and it is ALWAYS the MFT that gets you. It is almost impossible to remove file traces from the MFT (I know of a few cleaners that will, but the vast majority won't touch it for fear of making the machine unbootable) and they can tell what you had on the drive simply by doing a search of the pointers in the MFT.

              Now since I doubt he is using an OS where it is trivial to clear files from the file system like FAT (they also have tools to hunt for files in EXT 2/3 and ReiserFS) and in all likelihood he is running XP or later, well then the odds he could pull off erasing the MFT without making it obvious the MFT was tampered with (remember willful destruction is a felony IIRC) are pretty much zip. It is always the MFT that gets them, especially since so few understand how the MFT works.

              • This is assuming several things:

                First, that your'e running a filesystem they recognize at all. I'm sure they'd have had lots of fun with my Reiser4 FS when I was running that.

                Second, that you didn't nuke the entire partition. Delete the file, purge it, tar everything up that I care about and put it somewhere else, scrub the drive, reformat, untar.

                Third, that it was ever on that filesystem to begin with. Consider "rubberhose"-style encryption like Truecrypt.

                Personally, I wouldn't go this route at all, and I

      • by defaria ( 741527 )
        Of course you'd have to prove that he deleted it.
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Just use a flash drive and then a USB port wired with 48V instead of 5V to burn it out. Hand it over and they can't make it work all you can claim is that it's on the drive and if they can't make it work maybe they had an ESD accident.

    • by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:26AM (#35253318)
      That's a good way to automatically lose your case and get the steepest possible punishment. Judges hate, hate people who destroy relevant evidence, and even if you securely erase the data itself, forensics teams can often tell that you erased something in the first place (and if he did that, Hotz would have to explain why he didn't have any data relating to this project he spend so much time on). I'm sure it's possible to erase things in such a fashion as to avoid leaving evidence that I ever performed an erasure, but I sure wouldn't want to chance it in his situation, especially when it doesn't look like Sony has an especially strong case.
      • by kaptink ( 699820 )

        I was thinking he may have done that from the moment Sony started crying like a baby.

      • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:40AM (#35253346)
        Has anyone thought he may not have to delete anything? They need to prove he was attempting to circumvent copyright protection devices. My understanding of the situation is that he was trying to restore the ability to boot to linux on the PS3, a feature that was included on the device when he purchased it. If that's all he really did then there isn't really anything to find on his computers other than contacts and login credentials for various accounts that Sony was certainly interested in.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I guess a question might be what happens if copy protection and the ability to boot linux were both encircled by a single wall which he breached.

        • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:51AM (#35253374)

          Yeah, everyone seems to be missing the fact the DMCA violations require the intent to violate copyright, not just the ability to do so. If he was hacking with any intent other than stealing games it's perfectly legitimate, even under the DMCA.

        • by sakti ( 16411 )

          My understanding of the situation is that he was trying to restore the ability to boot to linux on the PS3, a feature that was included on the device when he purchased it.

          No. That was failOverflow that did the work to get Linux running on the PS3 but they did not go on and do the additional work required to run pirated games on it. Geohot did that additional work.

          • by Schadrach ( 1042952 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @10:09AM (#35253702)

            Uhh, as far as the 3.55 stuff, geohot merely released a FW update that enabled the "install PKG from USB" feature in XMB and some signing tools. Both of those have very valid uses other than piracy, and neither enable piracy in and of themselves. That's like saying that releasing a hex editor or decompiler is illegal because you could use it to crack PC games.

            Actually, geohot went so far as to warn people *not* to try making the changes that are necessary for backup managers to function because he had seen that 3.55 FW had some memory protection tricks in place that could brick your PS3 if you tried to patch the LV2 syscalls needed for backup managers (and thus easy piracy) all willy-nilly. I believe exactly what he said was something like "OMG OMG OMG OMG DO NOT PATCH LV2 OR YOU WILL BRICK YOUR CONSOLE" (I know I'm quoting the OMGs, at least -- the wording of the rest might be a little off).

            So, FW patch that let's you install signed software from USB + signing tool to me does not = piracy, but rather any capability to run homebrew. Given the fact that he's never enabled any of the stuff necessary to make piracy simple, and outright states tat he's against piracy at every turn, I'm not sure how you get to your conclusion.

            kmeaw, hermes, and KaKoRoTo however are the ones you should be looking at.

          • My understanding of the situation is that he was trying to restore the ability to boot to linux on the PS3, a feature that was included on the device when he purchased it.

            No. That was failOverflow that did the work to get Linux running on the PS3 but they did not go on and do the additional work required to run pirated games on it. Geohot did that additional work.

            You have that backwards, Geohot did not enable piracy and even went so far as to publicly discourage people from doing so.

            Remember that Sony removed the other OS option in response to Geohot's success in de-cripling Other OS's capibilites.

        • So Geohot was merely trying to restore the ability to boot linux that Sony hadn't taken away yet because he used linux to crack their console?

          By chance do you wear a fez or a scarf?

          • by 0x15e ( 961860 )
            I think the original intent behind the crack was to get full access to the video hardware, which Sony had disabled in the original Other OS feature.
      • by defaria ( 741527 )
        On computers, things get deleted all the time. Proving that you erased something doesn't really say what that something is you erased. You don't need to explain why you didn't use your computer to store information - you could just say you kept it in your mind or whatever.
      • by lpq ( 583377 )

        Hotz would have to explain why he didn't have any data relating to this project he spend so much time on

        Why, of course, as soon as sony told him he wasn't able to talk about it anymore, he deleted all of it from his computer so he wouldn't be tempted!


    • I doubt he would have, especially if he has had legal advice. That is a sure way to lose the case, and get the book thrown at him, even if it is just a civil case.

      On the other hand, as a security researcher, he would most likely have had everything encrypted (if he is smart). There is nothing I can see in the injunction that says he must turn over encryption keys (ie. the knowledge in his head - not a document). I am not a lawyer, but I don't believe he can be compelled to do that for a civil case and i
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, 2011 @08:20AM (#35253298)

    Seriously, is extending the use of hardware worse for Sony?

    For example, I own a Sony Mylo 2, payed U$300 for it: a platform that wasn't a lost-sale approach like PSP and PlayStation, but actually had it's profit mark upon first sale. This platform (Mylo 2) runs a closed-source Linux that Sony didn't have permition to use, has ceased from being updated despite having a higher profit margin than other Sony products, has a 600MHz CPU+64MB Ram with just under 1GB of solid-state that perseveres for all applications, and despite running Linux it has been useless to this day while others have bought Sony's true lost-cause known as PSP. Sony lost money on PSP because the jailbreaking allowed use of any ROM or Homebrew, and no money was made on sale of commercial ware from Sony, while actual competitive products like the Mylo 2 get absolutely ignored.

    Why does Sony get away with so-much as stealing Linux onto a Mylo 2 that they refuse to open-up, and they prosecute anyone that ports applications to it without their devloper kit, yet with PSP they continually re-patch from anyone jailbreaking it for playing Homebrew and ROM's that none payed for?

    Mylo 2 is perhaps a platform with much more potential than any PDA Phone until Open Pandora arrived, yet Sony just continually stifles it's progress.

    • Violating the GPL != stealing.

      Also, is it really closed-source or just DRMed so you can't get your own binaries to run in it? Because the later wouldn't be a violation, since Linux is GPLv2, not v3.

      • Violationg the GPL is as good as pirating software. Which is not, as it has been pointed out, stealing. But isn't it Sony, that's trying to tell the world, that pirating is worse that stealing?

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Violating the GPL is infringement. Many businesses that violate it do so willfully. That's no different than the "piracy" Sony and others seek to "prevent". As for Linux itself, depends on what else they've bundled as to whether it's a violation or not. If there's not source available for everything and a means to somehow produce binaries (no mention of being able to RUN them is brought up in the license...hence V3's changes...) you're in compliance. V3's a different story as you rightly point out- bu

      • You can see parts of the filesystem through the Netfront webbrowser on the Mylo 2 unit, yet it's just locked-down in such a way using User access restrictions that prevent you from migrating any kind of application onto the filesystem. Remember that there is no console to use it, yet it it is a Linux kernel just like the previous Sony Mylo 1 that came with Opera (embedded Linux version).

        Nobody tried at all to 'jailbreak' any of the Mylos because they were just expensive little dream computers that were twi

      • Violating the GPL != stealing.

        Piracy of games literally is not stealing, it's the fencing of goods (for free) in a way that the license for the product forbids ("You shall not make unauthorized copies of this software."). If the license for the game didn't explicitly forbid copying, you'd be within your rights to do so, up to the point where you fall afoul of some other law, such as copyright. Violating any other license's explicit terms, including those of the GPL, is actually 100% equivalent.

        In my understanding, that is. IANAL.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @09:24AM (#35253474) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, is extending the use of hardware worse for Sony?

      You bet. The "copyright" controls inside these devices are not really for copyright protection purposes. You can always make a bit-for-bit-perfect copy of optical media if you have the right hardware, and the real pirates have the right hardware. Therefore, by definition, any DRM scheme not involving handing out a one-time-use account key to the first owner of a game is, by definition, completely ineffectual as a copyright protection scheme.

      No, the principal purpose of those keys is to prevent third parties from developing for their platform without paying them royalties. To that end, if game developers believed Sony had no way of re-securing their platform, and if this belief led them to release titles without paying Sony, then Sony would stand to lose a lot of money.

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Heh... They should be careful- that function which is the real purpose of their "protections" is not something that gives them standing in this case. If it's shown that this is a goodly portion of what is going on, the case probably ought to implode quickly on them.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It is quite telling that they need to go to these lengths to stop unlicensed development. There is no legal basis for it, in fact in the EU reverse engineering for interoperability is specifically exempt. Nintendo tried using copyright back in the SNES days and failed in court.

        I hope someone figures out how to use this to develop for unmodified PS3s. Might get some less formulaic games.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Oh, they don't have to stop it forever. They just have to delay it long enough to fully recoup their R&D costs. After that, when somebody cracks their DRM, they'll just release the PS4, and then nobody will want the PS3, so nobody will want to develop software for it. Problem solved.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The third party will be a sub-division of Sony, so basically, the computers will end up in Sony's possession anyways.

    I told you so in 3... 2... 1...

    • The court wouldn't allow it. If the court has to, they will search for an independent third party that has absolutely nothing to do with the case if neither SCEA or Hotz can provide a sufficiently neutral third party to examine the systems.

  • Thanks for summarizing what this case is, or at least linking to something that does. Not all of us pay rapt attention to every single lawsuit out there.

  • he is a smart guy, I am sure anything important is truecrypted
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @11:27AM (#35254056) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I wish all civil and almost all criminal cases operated on this principle.

    Any subpoenaed evidence or any evidence caught in a police raid that wasn't obviously relevant should be turned over to a neutral 3rd party for sifting, with only evidence relevant to the case turned over to the police or plaintiff.

    I would make two exceptions:
    1) Evidence of a future crime, but only for the purposes of stopping that crime. For prosecution purposes, the evidence would be treated as "tainted" and could not be used to prosecute unless it was admissible under some other rule like "inevitable discovery."
    2) Evidence of a past un-related crime or non-criminal civil offense where an identifiable victim needs victim-services or restitution, but with a similar stipulation as #1. The victim would be allowed to pursue civil actions and restraining orders using this evidence. One a lawsuit happens, a lot of information enters the public record and for particularly offensive acts, the information gets into newspapers. The criminal may be spared prison and an additional criminal record but he'll still have his reputation impacted.

    Yes, this will lead to injustices but my interpretation of "unreasonable search and seizure" means if the police think you are guilty of crime A, and but for the search related to crime A they would never have found out about crime B, then the criminal courts should be treated the same for crime B as if the search related to crime A never happened. BUT it's even more unjust to deny a victim the necessary services once you, the police or a neutral third party, know they are a victim.

  • ...some come up with sentences like this:

    He won't get that back until the end of the litigation, should he prevail, which this court at least currently thinks is less likely than that Sony will.

    Not all that is cumbersome qualifies as Legalese.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday February 19, 2011 @01:17PM (#35254604) Journal

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Hotz is required to deliver his computers, hard drives, CD-roms, DVDs, USB sticks, and any other storage devices on which any Circumvention Devices are stored

    Wait a minute here... surely there's a question of whether or not there ARE any "Circumvention Devices", that being a term defined by 17 USC 1201. By requiring Hotz to turn over "Circumvention Devices" the judge is requiring him to either
    a) Concede the point here and now OR
    b) Risk contempt of court charges for not turning them over.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the $10,000.00 posted by SCEA on January 27, 2011 as security for the Court's issuance of the Temporary Restraining Order shall suffice 3 for this Preliminary Injunction.

    I didn't realize purchasing a preliminary injunction was so cheap.

    I see the "Honorable" Susan Illston is still giving us a demonstration of what "due process" looks like nowadays; first issue a broad ex parte injunction, THEN hold a hearing, then ratify the original injunction with only minor changes, requiring the defendant to cede the case to comply. No opinion was published, so apparently we're not going to get to see her "reasoning" in this case.

  • This builds a pretty strong case to have a EC2 account
    and just keep a "small" linux vm running. Have it cron'd
    to kill itself every 12-24 hrs. Kinda like, this tape will

    Then use that vm to access ur ENCRYPTED info on
    another cloud.

    Even if they did compel u to turn over the account, all
    they would have is a dead process. And even if that
    process was resurrected, it would just have net access.
    And only a sloppy idiot would leave a trace of ur cloud
    storage access.

    When they take ur boxen... nothing but

  • I would love to see him countersue for slander, and ask for all of sony's legal department computers so that he could search through their emails. When the judge says no, he'll have a great case for appeal.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)