The online gaming world exploded with support for hacker George Hotz (also known as GeoHot) when Sony brought charges against him for hacking into the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and posting the root keys of the device online. However, before the entire thing went to court, Hotz and Sony reached a settlement but the air is still not clear. At least, not to Anonymous.
Who is George Hotz?
George Hotz who is more commonly referred to in the media at "Geohot" is a hacker and might I say, a pretty good one at that. He is well-known for dismantling his iPhone and making it work with other carriers aside from AT&T back in the day. He has since developed a number of jailbreak software including Blackra1n and Limera1n.
In early 2010, Hotz was able to hack the Sony PlayStation 3 and posted his exploits on his blog online. His hack enabled homebrew and PlayStation 2 emulation to be played on the PS3 while running on the OtherOS function of the PS3. Sony responded by saying that they were going to release a firmware update that would remove OtherOS from the PS3.
The Case: Sony vs. Geohot
In January of 2011, Sony couldn't sit still any longer. Geohot had posted several videos and hacks on the PS3 and was doing a good job at taking it apart. Too good a job because they decided to take legal action against him with charges saying that he infringed areas of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
GeoHot then went on to create a blog, GeoHot Got Sued, where he asked for support and for donations to cover his legal fees in order to fight Sony at the court. He argued that he could do whatever he wanted to the PS3 that he had bought because it was his. Sony disagreed, saying that he (and all the other PS3 owners) did not "have an ownership right in the software that Sony Computer allows you to use."
Sony then went with their lawyers and guns blazing to obtain subpeonas of GeoHot's accounts. They were granted access to GeoHot's Paypal account, as well as his Twitter and Youtube accounts. Sony was also able to get a hold of the IP addresses of the people who visited his site. Naturally, this caused an outraged response by a lot of people who accused Sony of abusing the legal system.
The promised court battle didn't happen, however, because GeoHot and Sony eventually reached a settlement on March 31, 2011. It indicated that GeoHot would have to pay $10,000 per violation of the terms which included not performing any "unauthorized access" on any Sony machines. In short, no more hacking.
The Hackers and the Sony Boycott
Several people called on gamers and consumers to stop buying Sony products because of the whole GeoHot issue. GeoHot himself announced on his blog that he was taking part in the boycott.
A group of hackers called Anonymous announced that they were planning attacks on Sony's websites. However, a lot of gamers complained when they lost access to PS-related sites, so they began hacking other Sony sites. It fizzled out however, and Sony responded by saying that the group's attacks only annoyed their network engineers and were only medium-strength.
In-store Sony protests have been slated by the group, with its Facebook events page containing a list of over 3,000 people who have confirmed their attendance.
Sources: Eurogamer; GeoHot Got Sued;Wikipedia