Sony Hits Snag in PS3 Hacker Court Case

Wired reports that Sony’s lawsuit against PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz hit a snag today when a federal court judge questioned whether California was the right jurisdiction to hear the case.

Sony sued Hotz on Tuesday, alleging that when Hotz posted the code to crack the PlayStation 3, he breached the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions. Sony asked the court to compel Hotz to remove any code he uploaded last week.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said she had concerns about whether or not the lawsuit should be tried in her courtroom. She also wondered if New Jersey, Hotz’ home state, would be a better venue to try the case – after all, this was where Hotz’ conducted most of his internet activities.

"I’m really worried about the jurisdictional question," the judge said from the bench during a 20-minute hearing – reports Wired.

Attorney James Gilliland Jr., representing Sony, argued the case should proceed in San Francisco because Hotz posted the hack using Twitter and YouTube, and that he had received donations via PayPal. Hotz’ attorney denied the allegation that he ever received donations.

By that logic, the judge countered, "the entire universe would be subject to my jurisdiction."

Gilliland countered that the PlayStation 3’s terms-of-service agreement requires that all legal disputes be settled in federal court in California.

"Serious questions have been raised here," the judge said, adding that she would rule at a later date.

We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.

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  1. 0
    DorkmasterFlek says:

    The PlayStation Network agreement stipulates this.  That’s the entire basis for the jurisdiction argument, as I understand it.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the PSN.  Hotz didn’t use any PSN code in his hack, and he doesn’t even have a PSN account.  He never would have agreed to those terms at any point.  Sony is full of shit on this one, though that’s not surprising.

  2. 0
    GusTav2 says:

    Part of the case probably concerns a breach of the EULA, and the jurisdiction clause contained within it would apply; and might allow Sony to make the claim in that jurisdiction. Essentially both parties have agreed to resolve any dispute in a particular jurisdction in the contract itself.

    However, the claim under the DMCA would not be affected by the jurisdiction clause and that may be why the judge is nervous over taking that claim wihtout proof as to her jurisdiction in the matter.


  3. 0
    SeanB says:

    I can’t say for sure that the RIAA lawyers have done this, they just came to mind, but it is a well known legal strategy, and it’s been used LOTS.

    You live in New York

    Someone you want to Sue lives in Australia.

    You sue them in the state of new york, knowing they cannot come to defend themselves.

  4. 0
    SeanB says:

    My thoughts exactly. I can understand that clause in the user agreement working in Sony’s Defense when someone sues sony, but how could it possibly work in favor of sony sueing someone else.

    Sounds like a clause the RIAA would use to prevent poor people from being able to travel to mount a defense.

  5. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Strange, I didn’t know that corporations could dictate to judges whether they should be trying a case or not through paperwork the judge wasn’t even aware existed. I thought it was about the jurisdiction under law, not what the Corporation wants, that defined these things?

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