Hack Your PS3, Forfeit PlayStation Network Access Forever

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Circumvent Sony's PlayStation 3 security algorithms or run unauthorized software on your PS3 and Sony says it'll sever your access to its PlayStation Network for good. That's Sony's not-really-surprising official position on unsanctioned PS3-fiddling, just announced courtesy its PlayStation Blog.

"Consumers using circumvention devices or running unauthorized or pirated software will have access to the PlayStation Network and access to Qriocity [music and movie download] services through PlayStation 3 system terminated permanently," reads the salient portion of the statement.

"To avoid this, consumers must immediately cease use and remove all circumvention devices and delete all unauthorized or pirated software from their PlayStation 3 systems."

What the statement doesn't address is the question some have about hacking the PS3 to run alternative operating systems like Linux. Sony originally allowed and supported Linux installs with an "Other OS" option, but removed it a few years later over "security concerns."

While hackers have probed the PS3's security routines for years, they've never fully "unlocked" the device until recently, when iOS jailbreaker George "Geohot" Hotz posted the PS3's root security key, allowing anyone to decrypt and sign PS3 code.

Sony's was initially silent about the hack, but in mid-January issued a civil complaint against Hotz and others involved in reverse-engineering the root security code. Today's PlayStation Blog announcement marks the first direct public statement addressing the issue, as well as specifying what'll happen if you're found in violation of Sony's PlayStation Network "terms of service" and "user agreement."

It sounds like this one's could bounce around for some time before it's sorted in court. At issue: Whether hacking your PS3 to run Linux is analogous to hacking an iPhone to run unofficial software. The U.S. government exempted iPhone jailbreaking from the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) earlier this year, implying (if not explicitly stating) that jailbreaking is legal.

But is "jailbreaking" your PS3 legal? Is Hotz's hack even technically a "jailbreak"? What does it mean that most probably want the hack to pirate games?

We'll see, but Sony's position in the meantime is pretty unambiguous: Fool with the hack, and you're off the grid for good.

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