Sony and Hotz agree out of court – full settlement details

Monday, 11th April 2011 17:20 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Following months of legal wrangling, Sony and hacker George “Geohot” Hotz have jointly confirmed that they’ve settled their hacking dispute out of court.

Who is George Hotz?

Infamous iPhone hacker who earlier this year published PS3′s root key.

Sony sued Hotz on eight claims, including violation of the DMCA, computer fraud, and copyright infringement.

Case reached farce levels when Sony said Hotz visiting South America had damaged his case.

Hotz on Wikipedia.

Sony and Hotz have issued a joint statement to announce “the settlement of the lawsuit filed by SCEA against Hotz in federal court in San Francisco, California. The parties reached an agreement in principle on March 31, 2011. As part of the settlement, Hotz consented to a permanent injunction.”

The details of the agreement have already been leaked, following Hotz refusing to discuss the terms on his blog as they’re “confidential”. Get the full court document in the images below.

Hotz is now bound by a permanent injunction that forbids him from “trafficking in any technology” that “circumvents any of the TPM’s in any Sony product,” including any sort of decryption code.

He’s also banned from assisting in such activities, or distributing any confidential information about Sony in any form.

Any violations of the agreement will be charged at $10,000 each, up to a cap of $250,000.

It’s also clearly stated in the document that Hotz would be tried in California if the deal was voided. Exactly where Hotz was to be tried formed a substantial part of the ongoing spat between the two parties.


In a press release, both Sony and Hotz “expressed satisfaction” that the case, based on Hotz’s publication of PS3′s root key in January, had been quickly resolved.

“Sony is glad to put this litigation behind us,” said Riley Russell, General Counsel for SCEA. “Our motivation for bringing this litigation was to protect our intellectual property and our consumers. We believe this settlement and the permanent injunction achieve this goal.”

“It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier,” said Hotz, “I’m happy to have the litigation behind me.”

Russell added: “We want our consumers to be able to enjoy our devices and products in a safe and fun environment and we want to protect the hard work of the talented engineers, artists, musicians and game designers who make PlayStation games and support the PlayStation Network.

“We appreciate Mr. Hotz’s willingness to address the legal issues involved in this case and work with us to quickly bring this matter to an early resolution.”


Speaking away from the press release, though, Hotz’s comments have a different tone.

“The terms of the settlement agreement are ‘confidential’ and the matter requires that they be ‘confidential’,” said the hacker, commenting on his blog under a post in which he encourages people to boycott Sony goods.

He replied to a poster: “I am fighting your fight, in the best way I know how. You’ll just have to trust me.”

The original post, made today, reads as follows: “As of 4/11/11, I am joining the SONY boycott. I will never purchase another SONY product. I encourage you to do the same. And if you bought something SONY recently, return it. Why would you not boycott a company who feels this way about you?

“There is much more to come on this blog.”

The case had started to become a real bugbear for Sony, after it was targeted by hacktivist group Anonymous in recent weeks. Related DDOS attacks on PSN outed the service for much of Monday.

The move will almost certainly be seen as a victory for the group, which today announced intentions to stage sit-in protests at Sony stores over the case, following gamer complaints at Anonymous’s decision to target PSN.



  1. CaptPierce

    So wait? Who won this dispute, Sony or GeoHot?

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Erthazus

    In the end the only loosers in this case are GAMERS. Not Sony or Hotz to be honest.

    Whats done is done. Playstation 3 is cracked to death and Hotz now free

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight

    I would never thought it would end like this. Very anticlimactic. Hotz just gets a slap on the wrist.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Kerplunk

    “The parties reached an agreement in principle on March 31, 2011..”

    That date is worth noting should Anonymous or like-minded supporters try to claim their activities had any influence in any of this. Now they can go back to their basements and re-watch Fight Club and The Matrix. Again.

    @2 “…and Hotz now free”

    “As part of the settlement, Hotz consented to a permanent injunction.”

    Yup. “Permanent injunction” sounds just like “freedom” doesn’t it?

    All in all, given the amount of bravura shown by Hotz, it seems maybe he didn’t have quite the cast-iron argument to get the result he seemed so sure of earlier on. Maybe he should write a song about it.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. MushroomStamp

    ROFL!! Saw this coming from the beginning. Once Sony realized they didn’t really break any laws just their feelings. Eventually companies will get it that once a consumer buys a product, it is theirs.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. pukem0n

    so he releases future stuff with a different name without anyone knowing. case closed.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Hunam

    I think Sony could have really done some damage here, but I’m glad to see they saw this as bad PR and just wrapped it up nice and quietly.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. AbolfazlA

    Sony will hire GeoHot

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Hunam

    Not a chance of that happening tbh.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Rosseu

    It’s confidential because Sony hired him. lol.
    This is a joke, Hotz still hates sony so…

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Tallon 4

    Lol @ picture 2.
    First time he ever saw an actual camera or caught wanking?

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Ireland Michael

    Hahahaha. The poor anti-climatic nature of all this is pretty hilarious, what with seeing so many clueless people rambling on about jail time, Hotz being screwed for life, this changing the future of service laws, blah blah blah.

    Welcome to reality, where everything is actually really quite boring.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Hunam

    Yep. This much is true. Everything is generally pretty dull.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Patrick Garratt

    The entire settlement’s been added for you in the gallery there.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. tigersaman

    HotZ WiNs ! fatality !
    2 Sony : Never play such a dangerous game with H@ckeRz

    #15 4 years ago
  16. FredEffinChopin

    @4 post of the day

    @16 I sincerely hope that is a joke

    #16 4 years ago
  17. NeoSquall

    @3 Indeed.

    In the end Hotz is getting a permanent injunction to “never mess with Sony internal technologies anymore” and a 10 grands fee every time he gets caught doing it.
    Whoa, big deal.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. AHA-Lambda

    sorry can someone define what permament injunction means for geohotz here in this case?

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Freek

    It means he is bound by law never to hack Sony products or face steep fines.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. tigersaman

    @ 17 & 18

    the money is already paid with donation money.and from now every hack will be namless and i can clearly see the NGP hacked in the first week of shiping from now !

    @19 means nothing ! the hacks will be namless and sony can do nothing !

    #20 4 years ago
  21. ManuOtaku

    Guys not pun intended, but every time he will be hacking sony products in the future he will be anonymous.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Aimless

    People are assuming he has any interest in hacking things anonymously. If this whole debacle has proved anything it’s that he has an ego and is into hacking for the recognition.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. LOLshock94

    SONY is officially fucked

    #23 4 years ago
  24. AHA-Lambda

    Not the most exciting settlement rly. Geohotz only got off without facing sony’s full wrath and sony just made sure in writing that he never does it again.

    Begs the question: why didn’t sony just go the full way and sue his ass to hell and back? It still sounds like they came out the settlement best =s

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Christopher Jack

    GeoHot won’t accomplish a damn thing, all he is doing is wasting his time & what the fuck would be the point of a boycott? Surely everybody knows that it’ll NEVER accomplish anything, worst case scenario: 150’000+ people will lose their jobs @ Sony & other companies will resume doing the exact same thing.
    They’re acting as if Sony’s supporting the Taliban or something, pathetic! Sony’s just exploiting their legal rights & there’s only one way around that & it’s not boycotting & performing childish revenge attacks like DDoSing, it’d be legally through a reevaluation of the DMCA.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. FredEffinChopin

    Aren’t you the same guy who was slamming the Uncharted series because the story “sounds bland”? We get it, your dick gets hard every time you hear the word Sony. Your transparency makes you look so pathetic.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. LOLshock94

    wait saying what i feel about uncharted means i hate sony? really? ive recently started playing my ps3 while playing killzone 3, metal gear solid 4 and after burner? and TBH yes i hate sony but that doesnt mean i hate ps3 u douche.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. FredEffinChopin

    What was clear was that you wanted to hate something more than you actually did. When you criticize the way a story “looks” and write it off, you are obviously a man on a mission. It was a silly thing to say, and it completely revealed your bias, making it pretty irrelevant. You decided to dislike Uncharted 3 before touching it.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. hitnrun

    @22: True, Mr Hotz and this new ilk of out-and-proud hackers are ego-massaging publicity whores who would prefer to rake in the glory while also remaining above the law. But would it really surprise you to find out he’s also the bitter, vindictive type?

    A lawsuit like this would never have happened five years ago. Hackers used to forgo fame for the complete impunity of anonymous, variable nicknames. They did what they did for thrills or curiosity, not for the pussy. (And in this case, even that appears to be some years off…)

    #29 4 years ago
  30. LOLshock94

    @28 i was talking about uncharted 2 while typing that, sorry that i didnt make that clear but if anything uncharted 3 is going to be the same as the 2nd

    #30 4 years ago
  31. Ireland Michael

    I would love to know where the hell people are getting the assumption that he did this for some sort of fame or recognition.

    >Hacker shows his face on the internet
    >Hackers gets branded a publicity whore


    #31 4 years ago
  32. Christopher Jack

    He done a rap ’nuff said.
    Well he was also on some talk show.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. NeoSquall

    I suppose there’s some sort of hidden clause stating that if anything new goes out in the scene about PS3 jailbreaking or any attempt on the NGP security, it will be automatically attributed to Hotz and he will get charge 10 grands every time.

    That’s probably the reason he came out with the boycott bullshit.

    #33 4 years ago
  34. Ireland Michael

    @32 So?

    Making a YouTube video equals fame now?

    People obviously wanted to talk to him.

    Neither of those mean you’re doing something for the “fame”. People in the hacking scene already knew who he was long before this. He’s being doing this for years.

    Sony are the only company stupid enough to sue him for it.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. osric90

    @8 Yup.

    For all the others, haven’t you seen Cath Me if You Can? This is the second movie on the go. Sony WILL hire GeoHot to improve PS3′s security, that would be a smart action.

    #35 4 years ago
  36. MegaGeek1


    No, but doing multiple news interviews may lay credence to that theory. Also, when a reporter asks “So if your not doing this for money, what are you doing it for? Fame?” and his answer is; “Ha, well I would be lying if I said my actions were totally selfless”, also strengthens the argument.

    #36 4 years ago
  37. TVs Everywhere

    He replied to a poster: “I am fighting your fight, in the best way I know how. You’ll just have to trust me.”

    People still believe this ass? Seriously, he took everyone’s donation money and just used it to get out of trouble with Sony. And he expects people to “trust him”? Whatever happened to his demands that he announced he was going to make in the lawsuit? Whatever happened to the “this is your fight” line? Whatever happened to the “let’s get the best lawyers in the business to fight for us”?

    Sony completely handed Hotz’s ass to him. None of his so-called “demands” were met, and you bet your ass Hotz had to pay settlement to Sony to get them to stop. It’s just unbelievable how people STILL continue to side with him despite being full of hot air and using money meant to “fight for consumer rights” and just “settle” with it.

    Admit it, people, the guy’s a sleazebag. If you still support him after all this, I’m afraid there’s just no hope for your kind. This is beyond naïveté. It’s flat out stupidity.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. daytripper

    “I will address the donations in a forthcoming post, and I think people will be happy.”

    thats what he said also. will he refund donations? or will he escape to the solomon islands once a “sorry but the pot is empty, thanks for your support” type post has been made?

    #38 4 years ago
  39. NightCrawler1970

    Wow, Hotz get a job at sony, just hacking the PS3, i bet he will have a nice office with a nice view, and a fridge full of “NOS” bottles, to keep him up, and a very nice annual sallary of $150.000 a year awesome, maybe i have to hack Xbox, and i can get a job at Xbox, would love to work for Microsoft :P they got plenty of money $$$$$….

    #39 4 years ago
  40. tatsujin

    o_O;; .. I’m not gonna return my Sony products. They make good shit. Half the shit in my house is from Sony.

    Okay, case over, moving on. NGP release date please?

    #40 4 years ago
  41. Christopher Jack

    May as well boycott Microsoft, Apple, Nintendo, IBM, Google, Intel, HP & many others too because they have all been involved in similar cases too. Sony maybe in vocal support of DRM but other than that, they’re probably on the lighter side next to all of these companies. This boycoott will accomplish nothing at all & even if it did, it wouldn’t be a positive result.

    #41 4 years ago
  42. TheWulf

    I still love all the hacker hate, despite the fact that hacking has been a part of science for generations, and that without hackers you wouldn’t have those consoles or expensive LCD tellies. You may be ignorant to how they work, or even to the nature of technological progression, but I can assure you that not all hackers are idiots, and not all of them are attention whores.

    Again, all I get from this hacker hate is “WE IZ LUDDITES” being yelled very loudly. :p Honestly, I just find this hacker hate to be as idiotic as you perceive hackers to be. You might as well hate technology, and if you’re doing that, why not go all the way, swear it off, and become Amish? That might suit you better.


    It amazes me how many people take the technology they love for granted, happily taking the time to insult the sorts of eggheads whom are responsible for providing the technology that entertains them. It’s ignorance, plain and simple.

    Quoth Dogbert: “OUT, OUT DEMONS OF STUPIDITY!” *waves stick!*

    #42 4 years ago
  43. mojo

    what thewulf sais.

    u guys should hear urself.

    #43 4 years ago
  44. Christopher Jack

    @42, You are confused, none of us are stereotyping all hackers as cyber vigilantes/terrorists but you continue to assume that we are. We just tend to separate the legit guys by calling them developers/programmers/modders & the guys who create viruses, pirate & attack security walls &/or people the traditional hacker but all of us here know that both groups hack.

    Obviously this is not just Black & White situation, there’s all shades of grey & that’s where GeoHot sits but a majority of anonymous are Black (not racist!), disturbing whomever just for the lulz, just visit their Facebook & 4chan pages also read about their YouTube attack.

    #44 4 years ago

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