EFF on Sony v. Hotz

January 24, 2011 -

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a recent statement that the legal action Sony has taken against George Hotz sends a dangerous message. The groups says that it has been warning of the dangers of the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act including having a chilling effect on free speech and stifling research on security issues.

The EFF says that legitimate security researchers will be afraid to publish results for fear of facing legal action from big corporations. They also added that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could be abused to try to make alleged contract violations into crimes. Here is more from the EFF statement:

These two things are precisely what's happening in Sony v. Hotz. If you have missed this one, Sony has sued several security researchers for publishing information about security holes in Sony’s PlayStation 3. At first glance, it's hard to see why Sony is bothering — after all, the research was presented three weeks ago at the Chaos Communication Congress and promptly circulated around the world. The security flaws discovered by the researchers allow users to run Linux on their machines again — something Sony used to support but recently started trying to prevent. Paying lawyers to try to put the cat back in the bag is just throwing good money after bad. And even if they won — we'll save the legal analysis for another post — the defendants seem unlikely to be able to pay significant damages. So what's the point?

The real point, it appears, is to send a message to security researchers around the world: publish the details of our security flaws and we'll come after you with both barrels blazing. For example, Sony has asked the court to immediately impound all "circumvention devices" — which it defines to include not only the defendants' computers, but also all "instructions," i.e., their research and findings. 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.

The group goes on to say that Sony is trying to say that it "has rights in the computer it sells you even after you buy it, and therefore can decide whether your tinkering with that computer is legal or not." They strongly disagree with this.

Of course Sony would argue that its console is not a computer at all, but does it matter? You can decide after you read the whole EFF statement here.


Comments

Re: EFF on Sony v. Hotz

I completely agree with EFF on this one. Sony has no leg to stand on. Even if they can get a judgement in their favor, the cat is out of the bag and any victory will be in word only as there is no way to bottle up this genie.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: EFF on Sony v. Hotz

Well, the victory would be in setting a legal precedent, shoring up enforcement of the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, and scaring others out of attempting similar hacks.  Sony's playing the long game here.

 
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Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/chicago-netflix-customers-your-bill-is-about-to-up-9-percent/ Chicago wants to become the new Detroit so be it.07/01/2015 - 4:58pm
InfophileAnd also, she said "anyone," but she also said "probably." This means there's a subset for whom the "you shouldn't write it" doesn't apply.07/01/2015 - 4:47pm
InfophileGoing back a bit: "As I believe there is no justification, there is no reason for me to continue reading." - One reason to read might be to find out if you're wrong about there being no justification for it.07/01/2015 - 4:45pm
Andrew EisenRead it here: http://www.zenofdesign.com/getting-diversity-to-speak/07/01/2015 - 4:42pm
Andrew EisenFormer Bioware dev, Damion Schubert, offers an interesting thought on diversity in the industry. Not only is it important to have, it's important to make sure they feel comfortable offering their perspective.07/01/2015 - 4:40pm
Andrew EisenHeh, I did consider it!07/01/2015 - 4:37pm
Craig R.Aww, video gamer players wasn't an option for the poll?07/01/2015 - 4:33pm
KaylaKazeI think the problem here is certain people don't know what "shouldn't" means, even after it's been explained to them half a dozen times.07/01/2015 - 4:19pm
Andrew EisenWhat if creators heard our feedback, agreed with it and then... oh god... made a better show? The HORROR!!!07/01/2015 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenI mean, next thing you know they'll make a YouTube video. A YOUTUBE VIDEO!!!07/01/2015 - 4:07pm
Andrew EisenHow DARE anyone write an opinion suggesting that people who suck at something might consider a better way to accomplish the same thing or improve so they suck less. The NERVE!07/01/2015 - 4:06pm
Goth_SkunkYes, but we complain about it amongst ourselves, we shake our heads, we sigh, shrug our shoulders and say 'oh well, what can you do?' We don't write articles for Wired and say 'Anyone can write about X, but should they? Probably not.'07/01/2015 - 3:57pm
Andrew EisenMy favorite is: "Zoom and enhance!"07/01/2015 - 3:55pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, you must not hang out with many technology experts. We complain about bad portrayals of tech all the time.07/01/2015 - 3:52pm
Andrew EisenPeople should be free to write about anything their little hearts desire. Even if they suck at it. Maybe not the most advisable thing to do, depending on their personal goals. But that's why you listen and learn and improve! Or try to, anyway.07/01/2015 - 3:50pm
Andrew EisenAnd you're straying from the path a bit but the sentiment in and of itself I agree with.07/01/2015 - 3:47pm
Goth_SkunkBut, as in the example I provided with call tracing and cell phone triangulation, the audience lets it slide, even the subject matter experts.07/01/2015 - 3:47pm
Andrew EisenGreat! Maybe you'd change your mind if you read her reasons for suggesting such a thing, maybe not. But at least now you're opining what she actually said!07/01/2015 - 3:46pm
Goth_SkunkFor the sake of entertainment, people write about things they shouldn't write about all the time. If they stopped, most things fiction would cease to exist.07/01/2015 - 3:46pm
Goth_SkunkAnd I think that's a despicable thing to suggest, worse than someone who sucks at writing a rape scene doing so. By all means, if the rape scene was poorly written, criticize it after the fact.07/01/2015 - 3:45pm
 

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