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Sony takes up legal battle against PS3 hackers

Sony has taken legal action against hackers who managed to crack the Playstation 3’s security codes. Sony says the hackers recently began spreading a set of tools based on their work that could potentially allow pirated games to be run on the console. Those cited in the complaint include famed iPhone hacker George “GeoHot” Hotz and a group of hackers known as fail0verflow.

Fail0verflow announced in December that the group had found a way to stop the PS3’s “technical protection measures” (TPMS) from thwarting attempts to run unauthorized programs on the console, effectively exposing the system to piracy risks. The 21-year old Hotz contributed to the effort by cracking the PS3’s root key.

On Tuesday, Sony filed a legal complaint and restraining order to end the distribution of the tools that make the hack possible to the general, non-hacker public. The complaint accuses the group of hackers of computer fraud and of actions that violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“Working individually and in concert with one another, the defendants recently bypassed effective technological protection measures employed by Sony,” Sony’s complaint states. “Through the internet, defendants are distributing software, tools and instructions that circumvent the [security measures] and facilitate the counterfeiting of video games. Already, pirate video games are being packaged and distributed with these circumvention devices.”

Sony further accuses Hotz of benefiting financially from his PS3 hack through a PayPal account that he had set up.

Fail0verflow’s set of PS3 hacking tools include programs called Metldr Keys, dePKG Firmware Decrypter, 3.55 6 Firmware Jailbreak code and Signing Tool. According to Sony, the programs compromise the PS3’s protection measures that were put in place to combat the reasonable threat of software piracy.

Fail0verflow claims that its PS3 hacks were meant to “be able to run Linux with dual-boot into GameOS, without 3D restrictions, on every PS3 currently out there” — not to enable piracy. Sony issued a firmware upgrade last April that removed the PS3’s ability to run under a different operating system, such as Linux or Ubuntu.