Judge postpones ruling on whether Sony can sue Hotz in California

Friday, 14 January 2011 21:28 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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A federal judge has declined to rule today on whether George Hotz should hand-over his computer gear as part of a lawsuit from Sony, reports Wired.

US District Judge Susan Illston said she was unsure if the lawsuit should be tried in the California courts where Sony filed, and mused whether it should instead be held in Hotz’s home state of New Jersey.

“I’m really worried about the jurisdictional question,” said Illston during the hearing.

Sony’s attorney argued that since Hotz posted the PS3 hack on Twitter and YouTube, the case should be heard in San Francisco as both companies are based in California, not to mention the fact Hotz received donations via California-based PayPal. Hotz’ attorney denies he received any donations for the hack.

Judeg Illston relied that if using Twitter and Facebook was reason enough to hold the case in a San Francisco court, “the entire universe would be subject to my jurisdiction”. Sony’s attorney further argued that according to PlayStation’s terms-of-service agreement, legal disputes are to be settled in federal court in California where Sony Computer Entertainment America headquarters are.

Illston said she would rule at an undisclosed time, as “serious questions have been raised” during the hearing.

An email to Wired from Hotz regarding the case states: “I am a firm believer in digital rights. I would expect a company that prides itself on intellectual property to be well versed in the provisions of the law, so I am disappointed in Sony’s current action. I have spoken with legal counsel and I feel comfortable that Sony’s action against me doesn’t have any basis.”

Hotz told the BBC the same thing yesterday.

Hotz is comparing hacking into PS3 the same as “hacking or jailbreaking an iPhone so it will run apps not authorized by Apple”, which is neither a civil nor criminal offense, according to the US Copyright Office.

Yesterday, fail0verflow, which is also being sued by Sony had this to say on the matter: “Our exclusive goal was, is, and always has been to get OtherOS back”, adding that it does not, and has never, “condoned, supported, approved of, or encouraged videogame piracy.”

Look for this to continue for quite some time, and get rather ugly.

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