Sony, George Hotz Settle PS3 Hacking Lawsuit

A nasty legal battle between Sony and Playstation 3 hacker George "geohot" Hotz has ended in an abrupt settlement.

A joint statement from Hotz and Sony, posted on the official Playstation Blog, says Hotz agreed to a permanent injunction -- meaning he'll wipe all his PS3 hacking resources from the Web -- as part of the settlement. Neither side is disclosing the full terms.

Sony sued Hotz and several other hackers in January, after he posted files and documentation for the PS3 jailbreak. As with Hotz's work on the iPhone, the PS3 hack allowed users to install unauthorized software, including cheats, pirated software and the Other OS feature that Sony removed from the console a year ago. "It was never my intention to cause any users trouble or to make piracy easier," Hotz said in a statement. Both parties say they're happy to have the lawsuit behind them.

But the settlement still leaves plenty of loose ends. The joint statement says nothing about the other hackers that the company sued, and there's no shortage of BitTorrent sites listing Hotz's jailbreak, limiting the effects of the permanent injunction. To combat hacking, Sony has threatened permanent bans from the Playstation Network for anyone it catches with unauthorized software. Sony's actions have also drawn the ire of Anonymous, a hacking collective that has attacked Sony's servers and planned a boycott of Sony stores on April 16. (The statement notes that Hotz wasn't involved in the attacks.)

Still, the lawsuit was probably hurting more than helping Sony's reputation. The company angered privacy advocates when it won a subpoena for the IP addresses of anyone who visited Hotz's website, as a way to prove how many people visited and to allow jurisdiction in San Francisco instead of Hotz's home state of New Jersey.

Hotz's image may suffer now that he's given up the legal fight, but the settlement doesn't require him to be nice. On his blog, he's already vowed to boycott Sony products and promises "much more to come on this blog." Whatever that means, it won't include PS3 hacking.

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