Judge Grants Sony Access to IP Logs of PS3 Pirates

Dennis Faas's picture

Earlier this year, Jeremy Hotz, known to some as "GeoHot", made quite a name for himself by using his website to publish programming code that allows people to hack Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console.

Hotz is currently in the middle of a lengthy legal battle with Sony as a result, and we've yet to see a final decision. However, it's a side story from the case -- a court order that allows Sony to see who is and has been visiting Hotz's web site and YouTube page -- which has drawn lots of attention lately.

Hotz originally decided to publish a special hack for the PlayStation 3 that would allow people to run an operating system other than that specially designed by Sony for the console. A few years ago Sony allowed these kinds of tweaks to be made, and it was only when the company came down hard on such activity that Hotz jumped to action. (Source: joystiq.com)

Subpoenas of YouTube, Google, Twitter Issued

In a recent court order, U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero has granted Sony permission to access the IP information associated with anyone who visits the web page Hotz established in January 2009 that describes how to crack the Sony PS3.

Spero has also provided subpoenas of Google, Twitter and YouTube in pursuit of information about Hotz's hack; Sony is interested in the traffic to a YouTube video posted by Hotz showing people exactly how to hack the console and various tweets he may have made about the hacking process. (Source: dmwmedia.com)

Spero's subpoena to hosting site Bluehost asks for "identifying information corresponding to persons or computers who have accessed or downloaded files hosted using [the] service and [those who are] associated" with Hotz's website, www.geohot.com. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

Sony Hopes to Prosecute in California

Wired Magazine has said that Sony wants these IP addresses to prove that Hotz openly intended to distribute the hack, and such a finding could bolster its case against GeoHot. Sony hopes to prosecute Hotz in California, and it believes the logs will prove that many of the users who watched his video and visited his site were from that state. A hearing has been set for April to decide if this is a reasonable request.

Of course, it's the fact that a U.S. federal judge has given a major corporation access to web logs that will alarm Internet users of all sorts. The court order violates an expectation of privacy that generally comes along with using the web, even if that includes visiting sites like www.geohot.com.

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