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Judge: Sony may access PS3 hacker GeoHot’s PayPal records


Sony’s legal war against master jailbreaker George Hotz continues this week with a federal magistrate granting Sony permission to access Hotz’s PayPal account records, reports Wired. Hotz, a 21-year-old hacker who goes by the handle “GeoHot,” published the first full jailbreak for the PlayStation 3 game console on his website in 2009.

The subpoena, issued by San Francisco’s Magistrate Joseph Spero, gives Sony the ability to access “documents sufficient to identify the source of funds (.pdf) in California that went into any PayPal account associated with geohot@gmail.com for the period of January 1, 2009, to February 1, 2011.”

Access to Hotz’s PayPal could give Sony additional ammunition in its fight to keep the lawsuit’s court proceedings in Northern California, rather than Hotz’s home state of New Jersey. Sony hopes to show that Hotz received donations from enough California residents to justify the trial being held in that state.

Hotz denies Sony’s allegations that he accepted donations for the PS3 hack download.

The PayPal subpoena comes just two weeks after Magistrate Spero granted Sony permission to acquire the IP address of anyone who visited Hotz’s website, where he posted the PS3 jailbreak tools and encryption code. Sony has threatened to sue anyone who reposts the console jailbreak (even though the company was tricked into posting the encryption code on its own Twitter feed.) Spero also granted Sony the ability to access Hotz’s YouTube, Google and Twitter accounts.

Sony claims Hotz broke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by distributing copy-protection “circumvention devices.” Hotz’s jailbreak enables users to install alternative software, like the Linux operating system, on the normally-locked console.

The jailbreak, Sony says, has been used to help run pirated copies of games. Hotz denies this, saying that he wrote the hack in such a way as to prevent game piracy.

Sony is currently seeking undisclosed damages from Hotz.

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