Feb. 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM ET
A hacker known for his mad rapping skillz — and for making Sony really really mad — says that in two-days time he was able to raise enough money from donations to defend himself from a lawsuit the gaming giant has filed against him.
GeoHot, aka George Hotz, is being sued by Sony for allegedly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and for contributing to copyright infringement. He (with help from hacker group fail0verflow) raised Sony's hackles when he posted the rootkey for the PlayStation 3 online back in January.
It's a move that allows people to run their own homebrew software on their PS3 machines ... and allows them to play pirated games as well.
But GeoHot has insisted from the beginning that he's against piracy. He outlines his arguments on his website here, stating that he does not distribute anyone's copyrighted work.
Instead, his argument is that consumers should be allowed to tinker with any piece of equipment they purchase in any way that they like.
"For example, I believe Apple has every right to lock down their iPhone in the factory as much as they want, but once it's paid for and mine, I have the right to unlock it, smash it, jailbreak it, look at it, and hack on it," writes the guy who jailbroke the iPhone when he was 17. "My PS3 goal has been to provide users a legitimate path to homebrew, which by the standards of allpreviouscases (or, inreverse), is 100% legal."
So, his big point is: "Who are they to authorize what I do with my taxed and paid for property?"
Over the weekend, GeoHot posted a plea to fellow gamers, hackers and supporters, asking for donations for his legal fight. He said that he had already racked up more than $10,000 in legal bills. With Sony siccing a team of five lawyers on him, he said he wanted "to level the playing field."
Apparently it didn't take him long to do so. By Monday he had closed the donations and announced that he'd raised enough money for his defense "for the time being" — though he did not reveal the specific amount.
This isn't the first time GeoHot has taken this battle "out of the court room and into the streets." Last week he released a rap video on YouTube mocking Sony. Check it out here. The video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.
The case has certainly inspired much debate. Some have argued that the lawsuit against GeoHot is an attack on free speech. Others point out that this kind of hacking leads to piracy and piracy leads to major losses for video game companies and, ultimately, losses for game players themselves.
And depending on which side of the argument you come down on, GeoHot is either a modern-day hacking hero or an uber-geeky super-villain, while Sony is either an innocent of victim protecting its hard work or a greedy and paranoid corporate overlord.
For his part, GeoHot calls Sony a bully that doesn't really care about piracy but instead only cares about control.
"I am being sued in order to send a message that Sony is not to be messed with," he writes. "But if I (and all codefendants likewise) actually win this, we have the power to send a much stronger message back. That consumers have rights, and we aren't afraid to stand up for them."
(Thanks to The Escapist for the heads up.)
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