Court allows Sony access to GeoHot website visitor IPs

Saturday, 5th March 2011 15:27 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

If you happened to live in the Bay area and visited George Hotz’s website from January 2009 onward, you may be contacted by Sony’s lawyers.

According to a Wired report, federal magistrate Joseph Spero has granted Sony permission to subpoena George Hotz’s web provider to find out how many people in California downloaded his “jailbreak” files.

This approval, along with any subsequent findings though GeoHot’s service provider Bluehost, will provide Sony with the ability to reproduce “all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms” through the site’s hosting.

It will also allow for “any other identifying information corresponding to persons or computers who have accessed or downloaded files hosted” through GeoHot’s website.

The information obtained through the listings would allow Sony to sue Geohot in San Francisco, instead of his home state of New Jersey.

Other subpoenas for additional information in the case were approved for Twitter, YouTube and Google.

A hearing is scheduled for next month in San Francisco’s federal court, which will then decide whether Hotz can be tried in California or whether proceedings will need to be moved to a New Jersey federal court.

Thanks, D’toid.



  1. Toastrules

    WOW. This is uh…. hmm…

    I need someone else to put some witty, smart response to this. I’m speechless.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Bloodyghost

    This gay? This is stupid? Crossing over his rights as a citizen his system? Going after the wrong guy who didnt want to hack the console for Pirates but wanted to just for a profession?

    Sony is going out of bounds with this one.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. jnms

    This is what happens when corporations get so large.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. AndymanSE8

    Ay, track down those pirates!

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Erthazus

    PS4 is in trouble. Hackers will hack the shit out of it.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    or NGP

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Crysis

    Damn hackers, they never, ever realize that they’re causing more problems then they solve, now new games will require a new update but what about those without internet? Would be a bitch to go home, turn your console on only to find out you need the internet, but I don’t blame Sony for wanting to protect their partners software, I blame the hackers for allowing mass piracy of it.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Bloodyghost

    @7, I do blame Geohot for being Geo-Retarded and putting his tools up there to make possible for this shit so I DOES deserve that but remember his intentions where not to make a million problems for Sony.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. The_Red

    Ok, this is where I draw the line. This is fucking disgusting. How the hell did that judge allow it? I’m not advocating piracy but this is plain wrong and should be as illegal as piracy itself.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. OrbitMonkey

    Damn you Sony for using the courts to protect your copyrighted product! You evil fascists need to stop using the law to persecute those breaking it!!

    #10 4 years ago
  11. TheTwelve

    I live there. Goooooood thing I never checked his website. Although a call from Sony would be cool.


    #11 4 years ago
  12. jnms

    #10 There’s a difference between using the Law and abusing it.

    Luckily that shit would never work in the UK/EU as we have laws protecting peoples privacy. But the US has never cared about that.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. DeathJynx

    @8 he knew exactly what he was doing. Don’t fall for the “I’m innocent” crap. Burn them all!

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Gekidami

    He’s not stupid. He knew perfectly well what he was doing would open the door for piracy & cheating in games.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Old MacDonald

    Disgusting, this is not a violation of HIS privacy, but a violation of the privacy of everyone else who’ve visited that site.

    Never visited it and didn’t care about it (I have enough money to buy all the games I want and then some, so I couldn’t care less about pirated games), but I decided to do so now, just to give Sony one more useless IP-address to work with. Found it in the Wired-article:

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Crysis

    Kind of pathetic to base your actions on spite, do you think you’re a hippie giving it to the man? Well good on you, they accomplished nothing by ‘sticking it to the man’ nor will you.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. OrbitMonkey

    Come all you Hackers & strike a blow for freedom! This’ll teach Sony to remove Linux, after they found out we were using it to hack their system, the fucking nerve!!

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Redh3lix

    Geohot knew exactly what he was doing and knew exactly what the implications were following his actions. The guys a c**t and anyone defending him should wake the f**k up.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Cygnar

    Sony is well within its rights under US law to make such a request.

    What it is looking for is a list of potential defendants. Sony will not, and cannot, sue everyone who visited this website just because they visited it. I do not know what plans Plaintiffs’ counsel has for this list, but it is safe to assume they are trying to use this information in order to track down people who infringed their copyrights by contributing to Mr. Hotz’ ends.

    This is not a privacy issue. All of these web page uses involve users reaching out over public networks in order to reach a privately-owned server. Moreover, the fact that criminal activity is alleged (or preliminarily established) means that visitors enjoy less protection on privacy grounds, in the same sort of way that police may search people near the scene of a shooting. The mere fact that you use the internet while engaging in illegal conduct does not shield you from criminal or civil liability.

    So many users here have opinions about what is legal or not, but our opinions do not tell us the content, purpose, effects, or scope of the law. I encourage you to educate yourselves before deciding to yourselves that someone’s conduct is illegal, or that a judge is failing to uphold the law. Legal decisions involve plenty of money and responsibility, and so they are generally not as carelessly made as personal opinions.


    #19 4 years ago
  20. Cygnar

    Upon closer examination, it appears that Sony’s counsel requested this information in order to establish in personam jurisdiction over Hotz in the State of California; that is, Sony would like to bring Hotz into a California courtroom and use California law (which will be advantageous to copyright holders) against him.

    Under Int’l Shoe Co. v. Washington, specific in personam jurisdiction requires that Defendant had “certain minimum contacts” with the forum state, and the matter in controversy must relate to these contacts. This principle is difficult to gel with internet websites, given that websites are generally available in any State, and so courts have found that the mere fact that availability of a website in a particular State does not establish minimum contacts to show that specific jurisdiction is proper for the purposes of Int’l Shoe. One emerging guideline for establishing personal jurisdiction in internet cases is to examine the number of website accesses originating from the forum State. This is discussed briefly in Cybersell, Inc. v. Cybersell, Inc., 130 F.3d 414 (9th Cir. 1997). At this time, the list of visitors to Hotz’ website is most critical to establish specific in personam jurisdiction over Mr. Hotz in the State of California.

    The Register has reported on the subject.

    According to The Register, Hotz’ counsel has bargained with Sony and agreed that these searches are proper. Perhaps, then, it would be more proper for commenters here to direct their fury at Hotz and his attorneys for declining to defend the users of his website.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. DaMan

    what Old MacDonald said.

    I like how some people believe the laws are there to help everyone, apparently you folks think americans are fighting for justice in the Middle East and the police is there to protect you from the evil.

    if you really want to help a faceless corporation which hates you, well, then so be it.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Cygnar


    Actually, copyright law has less to do with overseas warfighting than you seem to think it does.

    Corporations have rights like human beings do, and U.S. law recognizes and protects these rights. Corporate entities can, like individuals, own intellectual property and assert their rights against people who infringe them. In actual fact, Sony would never sell hardware at a loss if it had no control over its copyrighted content. The very fact that copyright laws protect corporate entities allows consumers to enjoy products and software they would otherwise never be able to afford.

    While corporations have fiduciary duties to their investors that force them to concern themselves primarily with money, there is no need to abrogate corporate rights or copyright protection laws in a case like this. The very same legal tools of which Sony has availed itself in this case are available to individuals. Corporate assertion of intellectual property rights does not erode individual rights; it reaffirms them.

    Thus, there is simply no need for an “us versus them” mentality in cases such as this, which concern rights available to all intellectual property owners in the United States. You may continue to fearmonger and try to conflate copyright law with police brutality, but in doing so you will only spread misinformation and panic where there is justifiably none.

    A fundamental principle of United States law is that rights belong to everyone. I do not know if you live in the United States or know anything about its legal system or principles. But I would suggest that you try to educate yourself regarding the subject before you broadcast your ignorance about it on a public forum.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. DaMan

    I don’t think I said anywhere that I support Geohot’s actions or something.

    I went from copyright to those because of this quote (of yours):
    ‘Legal decisions involve plenty of money and responsibility, and so they are generally not as carelessly made as personal opinions.’

    legal decisions involve clever manipulations and presentations of facts, and in many cases bribery. it’s not about fairness or justice, it’s about which side can present and word it better.

    I just find it ludicrous that someone would use the laws as the basis of fairness. and more so, you’ve generalized. if you were referring to copyrights only, then what you’ve just said is fair enough.

    the police searching a crime scene example was unneccesary, you could’ve said that they have the rights to protect what’s rightfully theirs.

    although, i still fail to see how it justifies something mentioned above though anyway, you have the right to browse whatever the site you want, without someone’s permission.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Shonak

    It’s his console and he can do whatever the fuck he wants with it. That’s that. Publishing something then to get something back that was before a component of the product they sold (Linux) is not that bad too. I don’t know if he is a pirate or not, but at least I know he’s damn smart just like graf_somethinganything. Honestly, I don’t care about pirates that much but I am pretty sure that there are better ways to ensure that people buy your product than stealing it, for example by not acting like a complete bunch of douchebags, suing and threating everything that doesn’t obey and basically just thinking that your customers are idiots – which we are, I guess, maybe, but then corporations are evil and god doesn’t exist apparently. I’m drunken and go to bed now. Just saying one more line – just because something is in the law doesn’t mean its right (still Kudos to Cyngar for his informative comments). Basically its easy: Sony sold the PS3 with Linux, they locked it (or removed it, dunno know – don’t own a PS3), he wants it back. That doesn’t sound so bad to me, does it?

    #24 4 years ago
  25. freedoms_stain

    @Shonak, by using software you’re usually agreeing to a certain legally binding set of terms and conditions. These usually include clauses regarding things like unauthorized copying and modification and bypassing security measures etcetera. So although technically speaking he can do pretty much whatever the fuck he wants with the machine, when he starts fucking about with the software we’re talking about a very different can of worms.

    Not that I’m defending Sony or their approach in this matter, but they do have a legitimate grievance that the law (for right our for wrong) allows them to prosecute for.

    Personally I think the majority of laws surrounding copyright, intellectual property, patents and the like are wrapped in so much bullshit the whole package just fucking stinks, but that’s just me.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Cygnar


    I am sure it is easy to denounce a profession you do not know about as “corrupt.” However, in the U.S., attorneys are held to a high professional and moral standard. In practice, if my opponent’s lawyer bribed a judge to win a case, it would be a dream come true. I would report that lawyer to the bar, have him taken off the case, and ensure that he not only loses the case, but that he also pays my legal fees, becomes embroiled in a malpractice suit from his own client, and loses his legal license. Judges are held to an even higher standard. In any case, the various bar associations’ disciplinary systems are designed to ensure that cheating is punished severely, not only with losses of individual cases–but with losses of entire careers. If you are not familiar with the Rules of Professional Conduct, or their stringent requirements, you are simply not familiar with the system that effectively keeps corruption out of our courts of law.

    Notwithstanding the overwhelming effectiveness of the state-level disciplinary system, the assertion that money somehow decides suits is as popular as it is inaccurate. Money buys the counsel of better-versed attorneys who know what they are talking about, or more highly-esteemed attorneys who are known to imagine and articulate novel arguments. But these are matters of skill, not money. It is unfortunate that not all lawyers are as skilled as one another, but ordinary people like you and me do not lose out because of incompetent attorneys. We have the safeguard of malpractice suits to ensure that our counsel perform adequately in their capacities as representatives and advisors. This does not mean, however, that skill or money can determine what the law says, means, or requires. In a losing case, it is a lawyer’s responsibility to counsel her client as to how best to reduce costs and liability–and this may mean settling rather than fighting to the bitter end.

    However, even if a bribe successfully swayed a judge’s opinion, judges do not merely make decisions. They must provide opinions with reasoning that can survive critical evaluation under appeal. No judge in this country has the power to unilaterally create, modify, or destroy law, and as such, even if corruption were a major problem in the U.S. legal system (it is not), the resulting opinions would collapse the moment they are brought under inspection because monetary gain would underlie their substance, not cogent reasoning. Judges who issue bad opinions, if in any elected position, risk losing their careers to the political process for promulgating bad law, and likewise they are susceptible to ethical codes which are designed and tempered over centuries of practical application to eradicate corruption at all levels of judicial activity and review. These measures remain highly effective, and the United States remains as one of the countries with the most respected legal systems in the world. No one claims that it is perfect, but it reflects the interests of millions of people and legal entities of all shapes and sizes, all of whom have interests worthy of governmental protection.

    Not that this should stop you from wearing a tin foil hat and cowering in fear whenever anything larger than you has responsibilities or rights. However, you should put more effort into understanding what you criticize. You may be surprised what you learn if you discard these paranoid assumptions about the government and corporate entities. Everyone has problems, and they are all entitled to resort to legal remedies when possible.

    However, none of this relates to the main point. All visitors of the site have the right to do so. Sony cannot sue anyone for merely visiting the website in question. It is attempting to establish personal jurisdiction and perhaps to identify which visitors have infringed its intellectual property rights. This action infringes on no individual rights. Sorry.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. DaMan

    err look, Cygnar, you aren’t going to persuade me that the modern law system is a good idea. be it US or not, actually most if not all are based on that anyone has the ‘rights’, be it a huge entity, or a little man. while you have the rights you’re playing by the rules, and the system is nothing but a collection of opinions from those who created it. then again, you yourself said noone claims it’s the God’s will.

    I wasn’t ‘denounc’ing anything. the implication wasn’t that it’s ‘corrupt’, it was that it’s unfair. It’s not the lawyers (the ones that are good do deserve respect, it takes immense skills). Its the system. In fact, i don’t think you ‘ll meet lots of lawyers enjoying all those laws.

    the bribes were absolutely the additional point. I wasn’t saying it happens in lots of cases, fyi where I live it’s not that easy to do either. in fact, it’s not that easy to do even outside of the lawyers.

    I have no paranoid assumptions, I just spent enough time witnessing the work of a corporate system, I don’t know, perhaps you’re waiting for some links to docs and page long essays, I don’t think it’s that appropriate here, besides people have different visions of a plausible society, right.


    sorry but I disagree. you have the right to visit the site while having absolutely zero obligations to help (in this case) Sony. seems odd that you say it infringes no individual rights, when they disclose your private information. perhaps it would be a good idea if Sone visited people across the country, and took a look at their PS3s, as well as the way they hook it up?

    #27 4 years ago
  28. DaMan

    * actually, to correct one thing there: I did say ‘in many cases’, it was a hyperbole.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. ududy

    Cygnar, let’s not forget that, when making and interpreting the laws, rich corporations usually have much greater clout than the sum of individuals concerned with those laws. they also have more money to pay law and marketing people to “educate” people about their slant on right and wrong. Laws are made by the powerful, and the consequences of growing economical inequality is justice that is becoming more and more unbalanced.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. Shonak

    @freedom_stain: “by using software you’re usually agreeing to a certain legally binding set of terms and conditions.” Yes, I know that of course, and I think that’s wrong, kinda. I never read those things for games anyway, scroll down and click okay. Here in Austria as well as Germany many people have problems with this kind of AGBs (dunno know the english word for it, sorry -> common business terms, maybe?), so e.g. websites sue people because of the AGBs although they have a big disclaimer on their website saying that it is for free. My brother himself had a problem with one of those “companies”, my father told them to fuck off. Anyway, my point is: It’s in the contract, but customers usually don’t give a fuck about contracts as far as I see it. Otherwise we wouldn’t have so many problems with rate payment in the recent years etc. A hacker of course gives even less crap about it. Geohot mentioned on his site the hacker manifesto and I think its kinda cool how they act. I am surely no genius and could of course never pull something like that off, mostly because I don’t really care about it, I just want that the console runs good and I can play on it. But they like the challenge and therefor hack it. I think Microsoft is doing the right approach by letting those jailbreak hackers work for them to find out about the flaws of the system. Sony instead just acts totally exaggerated, they even let the german police raid the home of graf_blablabla (I really can’t remember his name).

    Basically though I agree with you and legally Sony has a right to sue the ass off him according to the law and the contract between geohot and Sony. But I doubt that its just the right way to handle such stuff.

    “Personally I think the majority of laws surrounding copyright, intellectual property, patents and the like are wrapped in so much bullshit the whole package just fucking stinks, but that’s just me.”

    Completely true.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. kastasmf

    Year 2013:
    And the oscar goes to David Fincher’s “Social Playstation Network”

    #31 4 years ago

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