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Sony’s War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators

SONY's War On Makers, Hackers And Innovators

Two weeks ago I proclaimed a winner in the microcontroller dev board arena with “Why the Arduino Won, and Why It’s Here to Stay.” There’s still lots of great debate going on, and conversations that still haven’t ended. Is my prediction right? We’ll see what happens in the upcoming months and years.

This week I’m going to switch gears a little and declare an enemy for all makers, hackers, and innovators — it’s in a very different space: the consumer electronics industry. And who is this slayer of progress? Sony.

If you’re over the age of 25 you likely have a long history with Sony. They were the company we all had something from. If you only had $20, Sony had the best $20 headphones. If you have $500, again, Sony usually had the best. From their world-changing Walkman to a Sony Trinitron monitor, Sony has been part of our lives in one way or another for decades.

In this article, we’ll explore Sony’s long history of going after legitimate innovation, hobbyists, and competition. Sony, we’ve been keeping score. We’re tired of you picking on people who want to program their robot dogs to dance. We’re tired of you suing people who want to run their own software on something they bought. Sony has made so many mistakes with technology choices (Memory Stick, Magic Gate, UMD!), perhaps they’ll end themselves soon enough, but we’d like to think there’s at least someone there would wants to avoid Sony spending its last days sending DMCAs to anyone who tweets “46DCEAD317FE45D80923EB97E4956410D4CDB2C2”.

I couldn’t find one location that documented Sony’s all-out war on makers, hackers, and innovators, so I started my own (and it isn’t pretty). The talented artists, designers, and engineers who work at Sony deserve better, and their customers deserve better. Don’t worry, I’m not just going to spank Sony. I’m going to give Sony some ideas to right this ship and also let them know it’s time to reconsider suing George “geohot” Hotz, the Playstation 3 hacker Sony is dragging to court for unlocking his PS3 to run his own software on it.

There are likely a few other examples, but I’ve boiled it down to a top 7 list — these are in mostly chronological order. We’ll explore each one and why it’s been bad for makers as well as Sony.

  • Sony DMCA delayed disclosure of Sony BMG rootkit vulnerability
  • Sony threatens Aibo hobbyists for creating software that enables Sony’s Aibo robot dog to dance
  • Sony sues Connectix and Bleem to block software that allows gamers to play their PlayStation games on PCs
  • Sony attacks PlayStation “Mod Chips” and enforces a system of “region coding”
  • Sony sued Gamemasters, distributor of the Game Enhancer peripheral device, which allowed owners of a U.S. PlayStation console to play games purchased in Japan and other countries
  • Sony removes OtherOS option, removes Linux support
  • Sony is suing makers, hackers, and tinkers for jailbreaking of the PS3 to play homebrew games

Sony DMCA delayed disclosure of Sony BMG rootkit vulnerability

The problem seems to have started when Sony became a content company. They bought music and movie companies, and stopped caring about what they were good at: making awesome, tiny electronics that people love.

J. Alex Halderman, a graduate student at Princeton University, discovered the existence of several security vulnerabilities in the CD copy-protection software on dozens of Sony-BMG titles. He delayed publishing his discovery for several weeks while consulting with lawyers in order to avoid DMCA pitfalls. This left millions of music fans at risk longer than necessary. The security flaws inherent in Sony-BMG’s “rootkit” copy-protection software were subsequently publicized by another researcher who was apparently unaware of the legal risks created by the DMCA. Security researchers had sought a DMCA exemption in 2003 in order to facilitate research on dangerous DRM systems like the Sony-BMG rootkit, but their request was denied by the U.S. Copyright Office.

Source: EFF. This was classic — people who actually bought a CD back in 2005 were treated to “Extended Copy Protection (XCP) and MediaMax CD-3 software” on their music CDs. This was malware, and if you used it your computer was hosed. Sony later recalled the CDs, was class-action sued, and even homeland security and the DOJ got involved. But that’s not all…

Additionally, further investigation revealed that Sony had created its copyright protection software, in part, using LAME code written by Jon Lech Johansen, violating the GNU Lesser General Public License.

Source: Wikipedia. To recap: Sony delays disclosing the vulnerability and then it turns out they also violated the GPL. Harmful to researchers, harmful to people who do OSS and harmful to Sony’s customers. It was estimated that over 500,000 computers/networks were infected with this Sony malware. At least Sony didn’t kick puppies. Oh wait, that’s the next one…

Sony threatens Aibo hobbyist for creating software that enables Sony’s Aibo robot dog to dance

Another classic Sony war-on-makers. Here’s one from 2005, again…

…the Aibo robotic pet has gained popularity not only in people’s homes but also in the eyes of DMCA-case watchers. Perhaps Sony’s engineers couldn’t keep up with owners’ demands that their robotic dogs do more than bark, sit, and fetch pink-colored objects. In walked the hacker known only as AiboPet, who cracked the encrypted Aibo code and created programs that taught the dogs to dance and speak, and enabled owners to view the world through their pets eyes. “If it had not been for AiboPet’s information, his invaluable knowledge and his generosity in sharing it with the Aibo community, I would not have purchased an Aibo,” one Aibo owner said. Sony sued AiboPet for violating the DMCA. Aibo-lovers boycotted Sony. Sony conceded to its customers, apologized to AiboPet by rescinding the lawsuit, and the AiboPet-hacked code is back, available for downloading.

Source: GrepLaw. The EFF also has a good overview of this incident:

Sony has also invoked the DMCA against a hobbyist who developed custom “dance moves” for his Aibo robotic “pet” dog. Developing these new routines for the Sony Aibo required reverse engineering the encryption surrounding the software that manipulates the robot. The hobbyist revealed neither the decrypted Sony software nor the code he used to defeat the encryption, but he freely distributed his new custom programs. Sony claimed that the act of circumventing the encryption surrounding the software in the Aibo violated the DMCA and demanded that the hobbyist remove his programs from his website. Responding to public outcry, Sony ultimately permitted the hobbyist to repost some of his programs (on the understanding that Sony retained the right to commercially exploit the hobbyist’s work). The incident illustrated Sony’s willingness to invoke the DMCA in situations with no relationship to “piracy.”

That was about six years ago, and what has happened since? Sony discontinued the Aibo. No one is using their platform, millions of dollars are wasted, and the IP is locked up, unused. Talented roboticists steered clear of Sony, and customers eventually moved on too. One of the best robots in the world to get kids interested in robotics is completely ruined by the company that created it. Pictured above, me with my Aibo running my custom Aibo programs — telepresence through a robot dog!

Sony sues Connectix and Bleem to block software that allows gamers to play their PlayStation games on PCs

Let’s say you want to start a company that emulates old consoles to play old videos — sounds like a cool company — or maybe you just have a ton of old games and want to play them on your PC. In Sony’s world, this isn’t permitted and (you guessed it) you get sued. In the maker world, it’s completely normal to build your own arcade enclosure or retro-looking system and use a PC to power. We jam PCs into old Ataris, or whatever else we can get our hands on. But when a company made it possible to play old PlayStation games, they got shut down.


Another roundup from the EFF:

Sony has used DMCA to sue competitors who created emulation software that permits gamers to play PlayStation console games on PCs. In 1999, Sony sued Connectix, the maker of the Virtual Game Station, a PlayStation emulator for Macintosh computers. Sony also sued Bleem, the leading vendor of PlayStation emulator software for Windows PCs.

Neither Connectix nor Bleem were able to bear the high costs of litigation against Sony and pulled their products off the market. No similar emulation products have been introduced, effectively forcing gamers to use Sony console hardware if they want to play the PlayStation games they have purchased.

We don’t think Sony would win this one then or now, and in July 2010 the DMCA added some new exemptions. Not exactly a get-out-of-Sony-suit-free card, but at least it’s being considered…

(4) Video games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:
(i) The information derived from the security testing is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network; and ?(ii) The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.

(5) Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace;

The problem is that Sony is good at making lawsuits and not much else lately. Connectix and Bleem couldn’t fight them so Sony never learned their lesson.

Sony attacks PlayStation “mod chips” and enforces a system of “region coding”

The next two are pretty similar. Again, overviews from the EFF:


Sony has sued a number of manufacturers and distributors of “mod chips” for alleged circumvention under the DMCA. In doing so, Sony has been able to enforce a system of “region coding” that raises significant anti-competitive issues.

“Mod chips” are after-market accessories that modify Sony PlayStation game consoles to permit games legitimately purchased in one part of the world to be played on a games console from another geographical region. Sony complains that mod chips can also be used to play pirated copies of games. As noted above, it is hard to see why an independent vendor of a product with legitimate uses should have to solve Sony’s piracy problems before entering the market.

Sony sued Gamemasters, distributor of the Game Enhancer peripheral device, which allowed owners of a U.S. PlayStation console to play games purchased in Japan and other countries. Although there was no infringement of Sony’s copyright, the court granted an injunction under the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, effectively leaving gamers at the mercy of Sony’s region coding system.

Sony removes OtherOS option, and removes Linux support

Sony’s public blog has become a collection of unhappy customers. When Sony removed a feature they once used to market their console, they received 7,440 comments. It’s the most commented post of every Sony’s blog post that I could find (combined!).

Sony once used “OtherOS” as a marketing bullet point, and thousands of customers specifically bought PS3s for the OtherOS option. So many customers were upset, they filed a class-action suit that is still pending. Here’s an overview from Engadget:

Sony forced PS3 owners into a tough decision with the mandatory 3.21 firmware update: either lose online play or forgo Linux support. On Tuesday, Anthony Ventura chose door number three — and filed a lawsuit in California, asking the judge for class-action status. The complaint quotes Sony executives on numerous occasions saying how vital and important the “Install Other OS” feature was to the game console (it’s a computer, remember?) and claims breach of contract, false advertising, and several other causes of action against the entertainment giant. Sure, a lawsuit was bound to happen, given the number of angry PS3 owners out there, but here’s the thing: there’s no telling whether the court will grant a class-action certification here, and even if the case gets that far it’s pretty unlikely to force Sony to turn the feature back on — instead, customers will probably receive a token amount in damages while the lawyers get their full fees. For example, a rare, successful class-action suit against Palm — filed in 2004 — got Treo 600 owners only $27.50 in store credit, five years later. Meanwhile, we hear European PS3 owners just have to ask for their money back — which, we promise you, is the fastest way to put an end to your Linux-based PS3 nightmares.

Full Complaint (PDF). Part of being a maker, hacker, and innovator usually means you’re fond of installing Linux on something — it goes hand-in-hand with tinkering.

Here’s the install page on Sony’s site, which is now pretty much useless. Why did they remove this feature in a shipping product (with a forced update)? The old “security” excuse.

…the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the functionality through the 3.21 system software update.

One of the worst things a company can do is upset people whose hobby is installing Linux on things. Sony’s removal of this feature brought dozens of teams around the world together, and we were all re-introduced to “GeoHot” (George Hotz). GeoHot was best known for jailbreaking the iPhone, allowing owners to use different carriers as well as put their own software on their own devices. Jailbreaking of phones is perfectly legal in the U.S. now, and we’re guessing it will eventually be fine for other devices too. GeoHot got to work:

In the end of 2009, Hotz announced his efforts to hack the Sony PlayStation 3, a console widely regarded as being the only fully locked and secure system of the seventh generation era. Hotz opened a blog to document his progress, and five weeks later, on January 22, 2010, he announced that he had successfully hacked the machine by enabling himself read and write access to the machine’s system memory and having hypervisor level access to the machine’s processor. Hotz also detailed the many things his work could allow, such as homebrew and PlayStation 2 emulation (a feature removed by Sony in newer revisions of the console to tackle production costs).

On January 26, 2010, Hotz released the exploit to the public. It requires the OtherOS function of the machine, and consists of a Linux kernel module and gaining control of the machine’s hypervisor via bus glitching. Hotz wrote that “Sony may have difficulty patching the exploit.” On March 28, 2010, Sony has responded by announcing to release a PlayStation 3 firmware update that removes the OtherOS feature, a feature that was already absent on the newer slim revisions of the machine. Hotz had then announced plans of a custom firmware, similar to the custom firmware for the PlayStation Portable, to enable Linux and OtherOS support, while still retaining the features of newer firmwares.

Source: Wikipedia. What did Sony eventually do? Lawsuit, and that brings us up to the present, final example.

Sony is suing makers, hackers, and tinkers for jailbreaking of the PS3 to play homebrew games

GeoHot made it possible to run your own software on your own device. Since then, Sony and GeoHot have been busy. Mostly Sony suing GeoHot.

  • On January 12, 2011, Sony sued Hotz and others on 8 claims, including violation of the DMCA, computer fraud, and copyright infringement. In response, Carnegie Mellon University professor David S. Touretzky mirrored Hotz’s writings and issued a statement supporting that Hotz’s publication is within his right to free speech.
  • On January 27, 2011, Sony’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) is granted by the US District Court for the Northern District of California. This forbids him from distributing the jailbreak, helping or encouraging others to jailbreak, and distributing information they’ve learned during the creation of the jailbreak. It also orders him to turn over computers and storage media used in the creation of the jailbreak to Sony’s lawyers. Professor Touretzky’s mirror was voluntarily censored following issue of the TRO, but Hotz’s writings and software have been mirrored elsewhere.
  • On February 12, 2011, Hotz posted a rap video on his official YouTube page explaining his Sony lawsuit.
  • On February 19, 2011, Hotz started a blog about the Sony lawsuit.

And here we are, almost a decade-long journey of Sony punishing their customers, fans, and innovators. George Hotz (GeoHot) isn’t just a random kid, he’s our future. He should be celebrated and considered a role model for anyone interested in science and technology.

Sony should take a page from Microsoft’s playbook and develop a PlayStation SDK for innovators with Hotz. Microsoft saw all the amazing projects and hacks with the Xbox Kinect, and they embraced it. Here’s a Microsoft employee celebrating jailbreaking and encouraging Hotz to hack their product! Brandon Watson is Director for Windows Phone 7.

Sony should not be suing GeoHot, they should be making a job offer. GeoHot isn’t going away, he has a bright future ahead — just look at what he’s done already, and he’s only 21!

He was a finalist at the 2005 ISEF competition in Portland OR with his project “The Mapping Robot”. Recognition included interviews on the Today Show and Larry King. Hotz was a finalist at the 2005 ISEF competition, with his project “The Googler”. Continuing with robots, Hotz competed in his school’s highly successful Titanium Knights battlebots team. George also worked on his project, “Neuropilot,” in which he was able to read EEG signals off his head with hardware from the OpenEEG project.

Hotz competed in the 2007 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a science competition for high school students, where his project, entitled “I want a Holodeck”, received awards and prizes in several categories. Hotz has received considerable attention in mainstream media, including interviews on the Today Show, Fox, CNN, NBC, CBS, G4, ABC CNBC, and articles in several magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Forbes, and BBC. The Forbes article said Hotz hopes to go into Neuroscience: “hacking the brain,” he called it. In March 2008, PC World magazine listed George as one of the top 10 Overachievers under 21.

He entered the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007, quickly after gaining notoriety for hacking the iPhone, but withdrew from the school after 1 quarter. In December 2007, Hotz travelled to Sweden to attend the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar and talk about his 3D imaging invention (called Project Holodeck) that netted him a $20,000 Intel scholarship earlier that year.

Source: Wikipedia. Hotz has a long battle ahead in court. He’s received donations, and he’s “lawyering up” as they say in the biz. We think Sony is going to lose this one. While we’d love Sony to drop this and work with Hotz (as they eventually did with the Aibo community), we’re selfishly hoping Sony sticks to being Sony, goes to court, and loses. The biggest irony of all is that Sony was once fought for fair use and non-commercial use for their customers.

In the 1970s, Sony developed Betamax, a video tape recording format (VHS would later overtake Betamax). Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company were among the film industry members who were wary of this development, but were also aware that the U.S. Congress was in the final stages of a major revision of U.S. copyright law, and would likely be hesitant to undertake any new protections for the film industry. The companies therefore opted to sue Sony and its distributors in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in 1976, alleging that because Sony was manufacturing a device that could potentially be used for copyright infringement, they were thus liable for any infringement that was committed by its purchasers. The complaint additionally included an unfair competition claim under the Lanham Act, but this was dismissed early in the course of the lawsuit.

Two years later, the District Court ruled for Sony, on the basis that noncommercial home use recording was considered fair use, that access to free public information is a First Amendment public interest served by this use.

This is the Sony before they got into the content business, when they were an underdog that made hardware. Sony was a champion of public interest, fair use, and the First Amendment. It’s time for Sony to get back to its roots.

What else? Sony is also missing out on innovation, specifically from their users. From a recent NYTimes article

Mr. von Hippel, who has been researching innovation for 30 years, estimates that when it comes to scientific instruments 77 percent of the innovations come from users. Fields like medicine can be particularly fertile for creative tinkering. A classic example of user innovation is the heart-lung machine. In the late 1930s Dr. John Heysham Gibbon approached manufacturers about building one, but they did not know how to do it or whether there was a market for it. So Dr. Gibbon spent years developing one himself before this essential device was manufactured commercially.

Imagine going back in time and convincing Sony to work with, not against, their users. Where would they be now? Sony had decades of innovation and created an industry. What happens next is up to Sony but it’s also up to us. The Aibo community was able to get Sony to reconsider their actions, perhaps the maker world can as well. Here is the press contact page for all of Sony. Please consider sending a polite email asking them to drop the lawsuit against GeoHot and the community of makers, hackers, and innovators. I’ll also be sending a physical copy of this article to the CEO of Sony.

This collection of Sony’s missteps is also a handy reminder before your next purchase — where will I spend my next $20 when I need a decent set of headphones? Or a flat screen TV, or something else? Will anyone even bother to hack their stuff anymore, Apple already won the “Walkman” from them – where will Sony innovate, and when? The worst thing you can be in consumer electronics is irrelevant, and that’s where Sony is heading.

Besides — if none of this works — it’s back to tweeting “46DCEAD317FE45D80923EB97E4956410D4CDB2C2”. Just like Sony did…

Update: It appears Sony (Germany) has raided the home of a PS3 hacker today 2/24/2011.

4,543 thoughts on “Sony’s War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators

  1. All the other companies do the same thing, its the US legal system and DMCA thats really at fault here.

    Take out Sony and another dozen or so will fill their places. Nintendo managed to outlaw emulation, Sega sent the guns ablazing too.

    If i clone a playstation and sell it, is it ok ? What about if i clone a teensy++ and sell that?

    1. I agree with Charlie somewhat. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the fault lies in the US legal system but rather that there are laws that govern the use of these products and Sony has a right to have those laws enforced should they feel it infringes on their rights. If you don’t like their policies, then you have the right to not purchase sony’s products. You also have to the right to speak to your representatives and challenge laws or create new ones that will change the current system. I don’t think it’s appropriate say that Sony is declaring war against makers. If it feels their rights are being violated, it has a right to defend itself in court.
      Yes, it’s been proven that makers are great for innovation and maybe Sony should embrace the movement, but again its their choice and until legislation is established that protects makers legally we are bound by our agreement when we purchase things. Hack at your own risk.
      But we should ask another question though, is Sony upset that devices were hacked or are they upset that the information on how to hack the box was shared with others?
      Thanks for the write up, it’s a great discussion topic.

      1. @Miguel While you make some good points your statement abut the US legal system is false in a way. Yes it may be the law that allows the actions but these companies spend millions of dollars on lobbyist to get these laws in place. I doubt a large number of politicians are really all that tech savvy so these ideas must be coming from an outside influence. As far as contacting your represenative, who do you think has more access me with my extremely small disposable income or Sony with the millions they donate to campaigns and the millions they spend on lobbyist to ensure favorable laws? You are correct though about voting with your dollar. I propose we boycot them outright.

        1. It’s not that long ago that I used to poke around the insides of old radios, locks, toys, turn-tables, vacuum-cleaners, and other “consumer appliances” and tinkered with them however I pleased, without fear that I was breaking the law or laying my parents open to some sort of legal action from the manufacturers or developers — and if anyone had suggested it ought to be otherwise it would have been just too strange an idea to even be a funny joke.

          In fact I could even get books from the public library about “improving” old hardware or modifying old hardware to serve new purposes, or building new “cool stuff” from the parts. Well-known magazines (also at the library) included regular columns and features along these lines, too. I spent more than one rainy day browsing my Dad’s Popular Mechanics home encyclopedia of do-it-yourself projects.

          So what’s changed? Why should we accept that programmable devices have now become some sort of “special case” if they’re sold as consumer appliances? (Or consumer appliances because they contain programmable components?) On what grounds?

          Why are such notions somehow more rational or more acceptable when practised by manufacturers and coders on the production line? And why would anyone (home tinkerer or public servant or politician) who has ever found it useful to tinker with anything, swallow such a line?

          Now, we’ve reached the point where people are getting sued for merely helping people to use the product as it was designed to be used — and as it was prominently marketed to be used.

          Does anyone know how we got from “there” to “here”?

      2. I disagree with you on one point: “we are bound by our agreement when we purchase things.”

        Purchasing a physical object means it is now your property, and you have the right to do whatever you want with that property. Making a purchase doesn’t mean I’ve signed away my property rights. Even if there were some sort of implied contract, If I buy a PS3, the financial transaction would be with a store, not directly with Sony, therefore the contract would be with the retailer.

        1. I think if that was the way the courts saw it, we wouldn’t be having this blog/discussion.. ?? Internationally speaking..

        2. BUT… what does the EULA, that we all agree to, state?
          “… The purchaser shall not use the product for any use not sanctioned by the manufacturer…”
          Does this sort of wording border on an unconscionable contract? ®

    2. you asked – If i clone a playstation and sell it, is it ok ? What about if i clone a teensy++ and sell that?

      no, there are copyright and trademark laws for both of those products. that’s not the point of the article, sony has a long history of abusing the DMCA and shutting down legitimate innovation. what harm was there in programming your own robot dog to dance?

  2. Thanks for a good an thorough summary. Makes for a good QED on why to avoid Sony.

    By the way, don’t send the magic number in the Sony contact form, it won’t go through ;(

  3. I haven’t bought any games since Other OS was removed. I’m not risking an update of the firmware. This also means no Home, but no big lose there.

    Gamy developers, use your force to have Other OS reinstated or I won’t be purchasing any of your new titles.

  4. This is ironic in a couple of ways:

    – Sony makes ample use of open source code in their products:
    as I learned when my flatscreen came with a copy of the GPL

    – Sony also makes the excellent constructionist game Little Big Planet for the PS3, which allows kids to do visual programming, create and share worlds and objects.

    Both of these show that Sony has a foot in maker culture even as they work against it in other areas. Well, big companies often have multiple personalities.

      1. Not only parts of the company. With regards of the PS3 it is one of the only companies that DOESNT enforce regio coding in their games. I have bought games in Japan that even had the dutch (my language) localisation on the disc.

        And what to say about hardware signing with the PS3 that doesn’t exists for peripherals. You can even build your own arcadestick ( or use a cheap usb stick instead of over expensive memory cards. I even use playstation hardware on my pc to tinker with unbelievable ease… .

        The reason why I find this lacking in the article and why I mention it is because you give Micosoft a pad on the back but fail to mention that at first they weren’t that friendly to kinect hacking. It wasn’t until the thing got hacked they suddenly became “hobbyist friendly”. You are aware that when adafruit did a contest for open source drivers Microsoft friking “condemned” the action ? Adafruit as a reaction doubled the bounty. And if they where truly “hacker” friendly they would design as much of safeguards (which in the end got broken) to prevent tinkering to begin with. It is just a PR decision not because as a company it is in their DNA.

        I found your article about the arduino refreshing but this article seems to be the typical “Sony is pure evil” mantra with no room for just 2 colors: black & white.

    1. I used to work for a large Japanese company like Sony and it was interesting to find out that many of the different divisions in the company operated independently from one another and even had different philosophies on how to do business so this doesn’t surprise me.

    2. Sony basically has not progressed into the 21st Century where technically competent users may be as good at hardware and software as their own engineers and “average” (literally) Sony product users (or prospective users) are as well aware of great products in the marketplace and those that are not.

      Just like the Muslim Autocrat/Totalitarian governments are finding out their unemployed college graduates can read & listen to what is going on in Europe & the US, Sony is different. It apparently doesn’t realize its potential customers can search the Internet and read blogs and discover that Sony doesn’t play fair and has a “lock down” attitude.

      I myself bought my last Sony product after the TV I bought had its remote fail within 14-18 months and not only would Sony not replace it, they NO LONGER SOLD that remote anymore!

      Sony has a “king of the mountain” autocrat view of itself that is causing its own destruction.

      1. Not very good service from Sony there, but it would be worth your while trying to get hold of a sony tv remote from the next gen of tv’s, their IR codes tend to be fairly consistent for several generations of TV – if you cannot easily source one of these, buy one of the cheapest one-for-all remotes with a built in code database, it will almost certainly work…

        1. what about copyright law in general?

          the reason we’re in this absurd, legally restrictive, intellectual property mess in the first place is because we have a hopelessly outdated and well-abused patent and copyright system.

          1. If you take all the money that lawyers/corporate attorneys take ~across the board~ out of the equation, everything becomes chrystal clear. Most of the trouble world-wide comes from having to pay them.

          2. “If it were not for lawyers, we wouldn’t need them.”
            –A. K. Giffin. “Lawyer’s Paradox.” In Paul Dickson, comp., The New Official Rules, p.126, 1989

  5. Since NONE of the Sony execs did a bid in federal prison for hacking in the wake of the Sony-BMG
    rootkit fiasco as they should have, I have waged a one-man boycott of all Sony products. When I talk
    to people about them I always take care to ask them if they were found guilty of hacking — rootkitting a computer — do they think they would get off with a stern lecture as Sony did? Invariably, people say that they most likely would go to jail.

    So I ask them why they should reward criminal behaviors. It is fun to see their brains overheat on that question.

    Sony can take ALL of the crap they make and eat it for all I care. They are a criminal enterprise, guilty of hacking and just generally not very nice. Unless and until those at Sony who were involved with, directed, approved, supported the rootkitting of people’s computers go to jail, we should all tell Sony to stuff their products, all of their products, where the sun does not shine.

    The other instances of Sony-being-Sony (== incredibly stupid and boorish toward their customers) are just additional reasons to boycott their sorry crap. There are plenty of other companies out there who don’t treat their customers as criminals and doormats that we should do business with instead of one who gets away with criminal behavior like hacking your computer.

    1. yeah and never even mind that,they are still doing a similar thing today with the ps3,i mean they have spyware on the ps3 that “phones home”to sony and reports everything on your system and connected usb device,and software,movies pictures,they can see everything on your system,and you dont even have to be connected to the psn for it to report back to sony,i dont know if its in the eula for psnor not ,cause i dont use psn,but since i nevr agreed to suscha breach of privacy and im not sure which fw this started in,hence it may have been something they added to my system after i purchased it without my knowledge ,so what i want to know is how the phuck can the call what geohot and other ps3 scene devs are doing “hacking”and sue him under the computer fraud act,when he is only moddifying code on his own purchased amchine and for his own use and purposes ,that is not hackin,and certainly not covered uder the computer fraud act,but what they are doing most certainly is,adding and or sometimes removing code to/from someone elses machine ,and since most people dont know about this ps3 spyware,without their knowledge,across a network,for thier own purposes of taking and using data on a private machine you own,spying on you and examining all your data and everything you do,how is that not considered hacking someone elses machine,and across a network no less,that should be considered hacking more than what geohot has done and should definitly fall under the computer fraud act as well,not what geohot is doing ,”hacking”his own paid for machine,and not across any network,not connecting to another machine not owned by him ,like sony is doing,not spying on people,or adding and or removing code to another persons privately owned machine across a network,they are total hipocrites ,like they wanted to make betamax ,a so called circumvention device,like they make cd-r,like the mc lars song says,they want it both ways,sorry sony you cant have your cake and eat it too,stop ,trying to gang up on us with the riaa and mpaa ,stop lobbying and trying to buy unfair laws like dmca,super dmca and coica,yeah sony im sure you are loosing sooo much money from piracy or this sort of piracy which i call and you yourself called during the betamax trial,”fair use”,oh whats that,do you hear that sound,oh nevermind it me ,playing the worlds smallest violin for tommy matolla and clive davis and all other multi millionare or billionare record industry and media company execs

  6. I’m a regular MAKE reader, and definitely read your first column on the Arduino. I don’t know what the future of your editorials hold, but I must admit I was very impressed with this piece. Keep up the good work, it’s a credit to the Maker community!

    Your sometimes fan sometimes critic,

    1. they were sued for selling the PSP early right? if so, i didn’t include that, it wasn’t directly related to the war on makers.

      1. another fail by sony was their key2audio drm. Not only was it bypassed with a whiteboard marker colouring the protection track (inner ring)… but it also crashed some apple mac’s, making them unbootable. The only way to fix this was a dis-assembly of the mac and drive.

  7. Only things I’ll say here:

    – I agree that Sony is mega-heavy-handed about all this, but as the article highlights the long history of Sony hating it’s customers I’m not shocked.

    – I agree 100000% that we should be able to do whatever we want with devices that we buy, but as a consumer that reaps the benefits of modding the sh*t out of everything my opinion is slightly biased.

    – That tweet by a Microsoft rep about giving homey a phone is super swell and all, but keep in mind that Microsoft jealously guards their Xbox 360 software and tries to squash every 360 mod, too: dashboard updates and Live bans abound.

    1. microsoft is doing a good job lately, they saw all the cool kinect hacks and they’re releasing a SDK, i think they’re really trying – but in the past they did go after many people for hacking the xbox, etc (bunnie the chumby inventor hacked the xbox!)

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  8. I think you’ve convinced me, in a well written and well-documented article, to avoid future Sony purchases. I’ll check the mail tomorrow for the legal documents from Sony telling me I’m being sued for using their name in a negative manner.

  9. However bleem used copyrighted images inside their emulator and it was deemed fair use. So where’s the line ? The teensy++ isn’t much more than a reference circuit on a breakout board. So what is you’re saying differently in that its a choice between which copyrights and patents are enforced or not, or whats the line on who can use what ?

    I’m not entirely sure how you abuse the DMCA anyway, its written in such a way as to allow this sort of thing to go on, Sony are within the law. Which again goes to my point of that its the law thats at fault. The spirit of the law is even to do this, lots of corporations and lobbyist groups getting this sort of law in.

    A lot of emulators use the BIOS from the original system and they defeat the copy protection built in so you can play games on different hardware

    Also Sony lost the court case, the developers pulled bleem and they all work at Sony now, they’re probably doing better financially now than they were, Sony pays well for assembler programmer types.

    Nintendo however didn’t lose the battle against emulators, yes the legal costs may have made the decision for

    Copyrights and patents particularly have to be enforced or you lose them. Again this is a function of the law, not the company. If you don’t do it, someone else usually will and then they’ll use them against you.

    1. hi charlie, i think the people who cloned the teensy used paul’s name and images.

      as far as sony and the dmca goes, yes – they can abuse, i think they have – the law is broken and so is sony, they actually do not need to go after robot dog owners, it’s their choice.

      1. >>If i clone a playstation and sell it, is it ok ?

        If you don’t infringe on all the hundreds of patents on the parts of the hardware and all the IP in the software and you can reverse engineer it without breaking the laws in your country .. go for it I highly doubt you could do it but there’s no harm in trying is there?

        >> What about if i clone a teensy++ and

        I think you know very well that that argument doesn’t hold water but you have gone through with it because you think people here aren’t maybe aware that you are talking crap. I think you know that cloning a PCB and some basic software is nothing like cloning a complete, incredibly complex system and that such a comparison is “comparing oranges with nuclear power stations”. I think know very well that if you cloned the micro used on that board that Atmels IP lawyers would be all over you… ARM and MIPS have done this.

        >>i think the people who cloned the teensy used paul’s name and images.

        He should defend his rights then. If he doesn’t have the money do to so he should seek legal aid. The law works for the little man too.

        >>sony, they actually do not need to go after robot dog owners, it’s their choice.

        The law means that companies have to defend against all potential infringements or none at all.
        It’s unfortunate that Sony decided to go after robo dog hackers but unfortunately that is how it works. If you want open hardware that you can mod either buy stuff that is advertised as such or build it yourself. Don’t cry like a baby when a massive company with enough spare cash to sue you into the ground defends their rights.. or you know, you could keep what you have done quiet enough so that it doesn’t show up on ‘s radar and thus they don’t have to defend their rights.

        1. “If you want open hardware that you can mod either buy stuff that is advertised as such…”

          The PS3 WAS advertised as being open to a certain degree by having Other OS support. And then Sony took it away after customers bought the device. I suppose if Other OS was only removed from new PS3s your argument might stand. This was not the case. Users were advertised a device that had both Other OS and full gaming support. They paid for it. And then Sony made them chose one or the other.

          Also, even if Sony did only remove Other OS from new consoles marketed after they stopped advertising Other OS it would still be bad treatment of their previous customers as their OS would likely cease to be supported much sooner than they originally had reason to suspect.

  10. Sony has long been a mess of a company due to internal culture clashes. Starting a year before and the Rootkit fiasco Sony Music was releasing CDs that wouldn’t play on Sony Electronics CD players.

    Sony engineers are among the best in the world and produce amazing hardware at realistic prices.
    Sony software on the other hand is among the worst in the world. Buggy, invasive, and sometimes openly hostile to the user. A lot of this is due to being a Japanese company at heart, and the management by committee style that those companies have.

    I always like to compare Sony to Apple, which also has a team of smart engineers outpacing most other companies. They also ram new formats down our throats. (See today’s Thunderbolt announcement among others) and throw their weight around trying to control what everyone does with their hardware. And yet Apple is generally loved and Sony is generally hated.

    The only real differences are:

    1) Apple is much more vertically integrated. Hardware, software, and online services all interoperate smoothly. (Mostly) And all the devices work with each other. Sony on the other hand makes CDs and DVDs so copy protected that they won’t even work on their own players. Again, Sony’s sprawling mess of management makes sure that its hands don’t know what the other is doing.

    2) Single vision. Apple has Steve Jobs’s vision driving everything and everyone else at the company has to bow to it. Sony is a Japanese company so even when a talented engineer makes something great a committee erodes it to nothing.

    3) It’s not nearly as sue happy. Yes, Apple gets cranky when internal information is leaked, and they don’t like it when you jailbreak, etc. But they live with it because they don’t want to be ‘that guy’. They do appreciate their customers. Sony on the other hand, (ironically especially their entertainment arms) treats the customer like the enemy.

    I’m constantly surprised that someone hasn’t bought and gutted Sony. There is a lot of good in there, but it’s destroyed by its internal mismanagement and fear.

    1. Sounds to me like you’re almost apologizing for them. The fact that some of their people might be (are) good does not excuse the company in general from being a pain in the public butt.

      Get the heck out of there and go take your expertise to some company that will use it in a better way.

      I’ve got a lot of Sony products around the house – from 8mm cameras to TVs, stereos, and such – but no more, ever! They can die and I’ll salt the earth behind them as they’ve crossed the line far too many times. Nothing can excuse them anymore.

    2. It’s not that Apple minds being “that guy” — they just don’t want to be known as “that guy”. Being “that guy” isn’t cool, and their marketing image is based on cool (supported by “just works”) . So they push it as far as they can, and when the world starts to notice, they back off a little, and find more subtle ways to “guide” their customers choices and control their options, while pouring forth sophisticated propaganda about user freedom.

      Admittedly, it’s unusual for a mega-corp like Apple to maintain such an image for such a long time, but they’ve managed to (mostly) follow that fine line — helped no doubt by the counter-balances offered by companies like Microsoft and Sony. The other important thing is that their products generally do actually work pretty well, are pretty easy to use and fairly robust, to the point that their resale value is the envy of other manufacturers. I’m not a fan, but many people care less about freedom than about glitz, “cool” and ease of use, and Apple is meeting that demand, without offending their customers through ham-handed control.

      I wonder how long they can keep it up>

  11. Whenever I purchased Sony stuff, I noticed a pattern: The purchase was fantasitc initially… then the barbs came out. Barbs you could never learn about before purchasing by looking at the packaging or reading reviews. When your discman headphones wore out, a proprietary plug meant you had to buy sony earphones – which were $140! When you created your own media on Sony products, then tried to share your work…it would ensure only a degraded version of your work could be extracted. And so on. For many years.

    I realised that I could never win that game – Sony could _always_ sneak barbs and cripples into their products just deep enough that I would not find them until after I’d owned the product for a while. And they always _would_ do this.

    So I had to stop buying from Sony in self-defense!
    And, my life is actually better for it.

    I’ve come to realise that Sony is not a consumer electronics manufacturer. Sony is media/content company that has an electronics manufacturing arm. Sony electronics are designed to act in the interests of Sony media first, and only a distant second priority is to perform the job for which the consumers purchased the device, purchased in the mistaken belief that money changing hands mean ownership changed hands too.

    Sony devices are sexy, but they always stab you in the back. Don’t try to win, you can’t. Just stop buying their wares. You won’t regret it. You’ll be better off.

    1. “Sony devices are sexy, but they always stab you in the back. Don’t try to win, you can’t. Just stop buying their wares. You won’t regret it. You’ll be better off.”

      Just like Apple.

      Sony always seem to have some great hardware design, then their stupid internal politics wreck what could have been a truly spectacular product.

      1. Just like Apple? I’m running three OSes on my MacBook Pro and I hack drivers in OSX for interesting devices. How is it just like Apple?

        1. well i give you the best example .,the ipod,the iphone,the ipad,and apple tv,what do these devices have in common?you ask?well if it isnt immediately obvious (as it should be but consumers really arent all that smart these days) then i guess ill have to tell you,THEY ALL HAVE NO SD CARD SLOTS,i mean WTF,the iphone which everyone thinks is the greatest most technologically advanced thing ever ,doesnt even have a feature present on any 99 cent cell phone (w/contract) or any $10 per pay cell phone?,FFS it a feature ALL cell phones have had for YEARS now if not a decade,not to mention mp3 players,i had the worlds first mp3 player,the diamond rio,pmp 300,and guess what?it had a memory card slot,imagine that,sure it was a smart media slot but SM was one of the 2major portable storage technologies at the time,that and CF,how many generations of the ipod have there been?how many hw revisions?,4 generatoions of iphone,2 apple tv’s,and going on 2 ipads,and no ability to upgrade the memory or transfer something via sd,like if i want to take a pic with my digital camera and pop the memory card in my phone to email it ,i cant,not without a computer,not to mention that the earlier iphones had a ccd or cmos sensor ,but you could only take still pics,WTF at the time every cell phone was capable of taking video for YEARS,even cheap ones,but the software wouldnt allow it on the iphone,now they have the iphone 4 ,mind you its called the 4g(because its the fourth itteration of the device,i know)but how ironic is that,a phone reffered to as 4g that cant use 4g,when most other smart phones in the same class,(or i guess i should say a close class) can,its so ridiculous to have to buy a whole new ipod,ipad,iphone,or touch ,just to get more memory,it sucks,and not to mention crapple charges you double the price or more for memory than it would cost if you got it on sd,its a double slap in the face,i guess steve jobs thinks he can take his money with him when he dies of pancreatic cancer next week,so now i guess the company will really be over run by corporate dooosh bag types and there will be no hope of an sd slot on ipad 2,unless he comes to his senses and feels like being philanthropic enough to put a stipulation in his will saying it has to have 1,or unless 1 of u makers can figure out a way to solder in a micro sd socket to these devices,it would be the best ,most sought after hw hack ever

        2. well i give you the best example .,the ipod,the iphone,the ipad,and apple tv,what do these devices have in common?you ask?well if it isnt immediately obvious (as it should be but consumers really arent all that smart these days) then i guess ill have to tell you,THEY ALL HAVE NO SD CARD SLOTS,i mean WTF,the iphone which everyone thinks is the greatest most technologically advanced thing ever ,doesnt even have a feature present on any 99 cent cell phone (w/contract) or any $10 per pay cell phone?,FFS it a feature ALL cell phones have had for YEARS now if not a decade,not to mention mp3 players,i had the worlds first mp3 player,the diamond rio,pmp 300,and guess what?it had a memory card slot,imagine that,sure it was a smart media slot but SM was one of the 2major portable storage technologies at the time,that and CF,how many generations of the ipod have there been?how many hw revisions?,4 generatoions of iphone,2 apple tv’s,and going on 2 ipads,and no ability to upgrade the memory or transfer something via sd,like if i want to take a pic with my digital camera and pop the memory card in my phone to email it ,i cant,not without a computer,not to mention that the earlier iphones had a ccd or cmos sensor ,but you could only take still pics,WTF at the time every cell phone was capable of taking video for YEARS,even cheap ones,but the software wouldnt allow it on the iphone,now they have the iphone 4 ,mind you its called the 4g(because its the fourth itteration of the device,i know)but how ironic is that,a phone reffered to as 4g that cant use 4g,when most other smart phones in the same class,(or i guess i should say a close class) can,its so ridiculous to have to buy a whole new ipod,ipad,iphone,or touch ,just to get more memory,it sucks,and not to mention crapple charges you double the price or more for memory than it would cost if you got it on sd,its a double slap in the face,i guess steve jobs thinks he can take his money with him when he dies of pancreatic cancer next week,so now i guess the company will really be over run by corporate dooosh bag types and there will be no hope of an sd slot on ipad 2,unless he comes to his senses and feels like being philanthropic enough to put a stipulation in his will saying it has to have 1,or unless 1 of u makers can figure out a way to solder in a micro sd socket to these devices,it would be the best ,most sought after hw hack ever

          1. Bostonblah,

            I hate to break it to you, but it is currently possible and on the market to directly connect both Secure Digital memory cards and USB devices to the iPad. It is made possible by Apple’s own Camera Connector Kit, which can theoretically work with ANY apple device using the ubiquitous iPod dock connection.

            The reason why your first mp3 player had a memory card slot instead of built-in flash memory was because flash memory was then and still continues to be one of the most expensive components to add to a product, and therefore it behooves a manufacturer to leave such accessory choices to the consumer rather than to mark up the price of their player. Basically, the SD slot enables the manufacturer to sell you a nonfunctional product because you can deal with that component yourself. Apple, on the other hand, generates complete solutions, and most people appear to appreciate the convenience of the simplicity inherent in this approach, given the popularity of portable Apple products.

            You complain that the iPhone is not yet 4G speed capable, but what use is a more expensive smartphone when the 4G infrastructure does not yet widely enable 4G speeds for any given 4G device? According to Verizon’s website, 4G won’t be available nationwide until the end of 2013, and only a fifth of the population currently has access to 4G data speeds. According to Sprint’s website, only 29 of 50 states have any 4G coverage; only seven cities in all of the populous state of California have any 4G coverage, and only three cities in New York State have any. And AT&T doesn’t even bother to create a 4G coverage map, since they’re still expanding their 3G coverage. Put simply, most customers would be paying for unusable and unsupported tech if they bought an iPhone capable of 4G speeds.

            You complain that you must buy a new iPod, iPad, or iPhone in order to acquire more memory for such devices, but this is actually a basic logistical problem (not just limited to Apple products) that can be circumvented in a number of ways:

            1) don’t buy the product whose memory capacity you will find insufficient within a year, and instead opt for the model with ample memory
            2) use the compression method appropriate to maximize the use of the available memory
            3) stream your media over the internet via your home computer, or through services such as Napster, rather than requiring all of it be present in the immediate storage of your portable device
            4) if you are incapable of any forethought and still need to get a new iProduct, take care of the old one and it will retain a decent resale value for you to put the money towards the new

            If the world positively comes to an end because you cannot add 8GB to the hardware of your portable device, I suggest you make a utility belt for all of those SD cards you feel are so essential to a quality device experience. You can name them, color them, and stack them on your desk like a Scrooge with coins. At some point, however, most of us realize that less is more, which is precisely why most people prefer Apple products over SD card utility belts.

          2. Am not starting a flame war here but you are so blindly defending Apple that it stinks. You say “flash memory was then and still continues to be one of the most expensive components”. Now, I went to VZW site. iPhone 4, 16GB version costs $200 while 32GB version costs $300 (that’s with contract). So using your logic 16GB MicroSD or any other memory card would cost 100$ since the two devices differ only in storage space. Now, if you go to ANY site that sells stuff online, like Amazon and eBay, you’ll see that 16GB MicroSD card costs around $24.

            Using logic and some really simple math you can see that Apple is charging 4x more for those 16GB of memory. Now if you have a phone with SD card reader, upgrading your memory consists of buying different memory card while with iPhone you have to buy a different device. Plus you can easily switch between cards and get access to all your files, while when you change iPhones (for more memory) you loose everything unless you sync with iTunes which requires a desktop computer.

            So you can’t really say memory is expensive. Well I guess you can, it is for you since you need to change the whole device and difference between them is at least 4x the value of a single memory card.

            Neither of these comments really have too much to do with the article here but the angry BostonBlah guy (I suppose) is right. You can’t have innovation when you cripple those who do it. Imagine if Apple made iOS open source. I think we would see it on dish washing machines by now and Android wouldn’t be nearly as powerful.

          3. well yes i have seen an accessory made by apple that connects to the dock connector of your ipod at one end and that has a usb on port on the other end of it so you can plug in a digital camera to your ipod and dump the memory card contents from your digital camera on to the ipod drive ,but not be able to view the photos or videos until you get to a pc to sync with itunes,but the apple store no longer sells them ,and havent for a long time ,because i was going to get one,as far as connecting an sd card to the dock connector ,i cant remember if i saw an accessory for that,i think i did but the device was huge ,who wants to carry around another device?or an adapter plus a usb cable?why would you want some big goofy device sticking out of your ipod,ipad or iphone,?who would want that when for a few cents apple could have just included one internally?isnt the whole idea of their products that they are supposed to be sleek and sexy and aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing?and do everything in one device ,devices?what is so sleek,sexy or aesthetically pleasing about having a big goofy adapter hanging out the side of your device just to plug in an sd card ,a feature that every other cheap ass device can do internally with no adapter?it kinda defeats the purpose dont you think? you say the manufactures of devices with sd slots sell you a non functional device but thats not true either,the diamond rio i had that was the first mp3 player ever made did have a smart media memory card expansion slot ,but it also has onboard memory too,as do allot of devices that have sd card slots ,its to add MORE memory,and not only that but most all devices with sd card slots do also come with an sd card,some come with onboard memory and an sd slot and an sd card,i never said apple should sell their devices with no memory,im saying they should have the same memory options they have now for their products but just add a cheap micro sd card slot or sd card slot,it would add almost nothing to the cost of the device,there is absolutely no reason or excuse for it,they could put one one in ,its not going to complicate the device or make it nonfunctional or somehow less simple or less of a so called”complete solution” as you imply,apple doesnt do it cause they want to rip off their customers and sell them a whole new device just so they can add a little bit of memory,its ridiculous,its creating more waste,more e-waste,and they charge you twice as much for their memory as it would have cost you on sd,it just fuckin mean spirited abuse of its consumers,either that or shortsightedness ,which i dont buy,i think they know EXACTLY what they are doing,they know they have a cult following of mac whores that will buy and worship any device they make no matter what it is,how many flaws it has,or, how many bad decisions they make,but yes i do have a few ipods,and i do like my ipods ,but the company does make alot of decisions that are ass backwards as fuck,take the ipod touch for example ,i sat there for 4 hours trying to figure out why the song titles that are too long to fit on the screen were cut off and not scrolling across,after hours of trying to figure out how to make them do that ,i finally figure out that it CANT be done,so a feature that my 2nd and 3rd gen nano have ,is not included on the much newer and more expensive 400$ touch?WTF!!!the titles dont scroll ANYWHERE, not on the list of songs when you are selecting them,not even after you select the song and it is playing ,my nano does BOTH,an older and much less expensive model,there are plenty of other bad decisions that there is absolutely no excuse for that i wont get into ,im nobodys fan boy ,nor am i against apple,there are just allot things that ruing what otherwise could have been a perfect product,and there is absolutely no reason that r&d or product testers should have missed those problems and let the devices out the door with such obvious and annoying flaws ,but what do you expect from a big corporation ,those type of people have no fucking common sense what so ever ,and make decisions without any rhyme or reason

    2. Proprietary earphone plug? What?
      Sony may have gotten irritating over the years, but they’re not Apple.
      I’ve owned quite a number of Walkman cassette players, Discman CD players, and even a couple “Network Walkman” (stupid name) devices over the years, and all of them use a standard 1/8″ headphone jack.

      Now, if you mean that you were using a remote control on the earphones, that would be proprietary, but there really is no standard connector for remotes.

  12. It seems like more and more corporations are trying to control how their products are used, more often than not to the detriment of the end user.

    I’m personally quite tired of feeling like instead of buying a product I’m leasing it. I sometimes feel as if instead of purchasing a product I can call my own I’m instead paying the manufacturer to agree to use it according to their rules (which constantly change) until the product dies or the product is no longer officially supported. Why do I have to sign a user agreement for nearly every piece of electronic equipment I purchase? Why can’t I take apart (or hack) my purchased product to repair it or improve its functionality without fear of being sued? I bought it, don’t I own it? Or did I simply buy the right to access said corporation’s intellectual property until they deem the product beyond its useful revenue life cycle?

    I think it’s great that someone at Microsoft finally realized what side their bread was buttered on and figured out they would sell a LOT more Kinects (and get free marketing) if they opened it up and embraced makers instead of trying to fight them.

  13. 46DCEAD317FE45D80923EB97E4956410D4CDB2C2 sounds good to me – wonder if they’ll try to do this shit here in Canada.

    So far we don’t have the DMCA – but the Conservatives are trying really hard. The “first sale” doctrine sure seems to be bent by Sony – good thing I’ve decided never to purchase another of their products.

  14. Couple of points: LAME is LGPL as stated, so Sony did not “violate the GPL” just the LGPL. This is a lot less important as LGPL allows its code into closed-source products provided an offer of source is made for the library, so it’s not much more than an administrative issue (making the offer of source). A GPL violation would require the entire component to be rewritten or licensed.

    And come on, MICROSOFT make an ironic offer of a doomed phone platform to GeoHot and suddenly they’re the good guys? Some people have very short memories …

    1. I don’t think anyone is trying to claim that Microsoft are suddenly the “good guys”, but they have been a lot more accommodating in recent years. They haven’t for example gone after those hackers that have produced their own open source drivers for the Kinect.

  15. If Sony didn’t make such good products none of us would care. No one wants to avoid Sony we just want to push them around a little.

    That comment about if you really wanna screw yourself take Linux away …. no kidding. I dont think it would have ever been cracked the way it was if they didnt.

  16. Good article. There is one inaccuracy in the article, though. I was an employee of Connectix from 1992 to 1999 and did some development of the PC version of Virtual Gamestation. Connectix did in fact engage in a legal battle with Sony (FWIW, I left the company while the case was still active). Initially, Sony won an injunction against Connectix which forced Connectix to pull the product off the market. Connectix appealed and won that appeal — see for the 9th Circuit Ruling and also for some of the impact of this ruling on reverse engineering and fair use. The case was eventually settled with Sony buying the rights to Virtual Gamestation from Connectix. I don’t have enough insight to know whether these terms were punitive enough to discourage further similar suits by Sony or whether the suit was an overall win in terms of business impact for Connectix. Users still lost out since they were unable to use the product — Sony simply buried the product after they purchased it.

  17. excellent summary. sony’s appalling consumer outlook is not limited to consoles & robotics either. my partner has always fancied top range vaio notebooks. sadly she is now stuck with unusable 3G after an upgrade from XP to windows 7. why? virtually no support from sony for anything much over 6 months old. shameful stuff. never again, sony, never again.

  18. I watched a video on disruptive technologies by Clayton Christensen, an HBS faculty member. He discussed Sony and how they used to create disruptive items (the Walkman, Betamax, cassette players, TVs, etc.) that would shake up the market.

    About the mid 90s, Sony started to change and didn’t do this as much. His reasoning? They hired a bunch of MBAs and went from innovating (they never did market research, they just created things) to what is called “sustaining.”

    When you’re sustaining, you’re just looking to maintain what you have. Anything disruptive, such as hackers/makers/tinkerers looking for new ways to use your products, is, by default, a threat to your business model.

    It’s no surprise that Sony is now doing all these things. What else can it do? Make new, innovative products that shake up the market? That would require a massive culture change back to its roots. That’s hard to do when it has the DMCA dealer giving it its next fix.

    1. I would not say they hired MBAs and the transitioned happened. They hired the wrong people at the top w/ or w/o MBA’s to keep an eye on the future. No one can argue that they have effectively missed the wave in music, hand held portables and consuls based on the market results. (full disclaimer: I have a MBA and do research)

      1. Actually, I would agree with Christian. Sorry, Dwight, but I think you’re a rare exception to a group of people who’ve done incalculable damage to society and the economy.

        The narrative of the MBA programs – worldwide – is to create managers who can manage anything, irrespective of their lack of domain knowledge. Risk takers. Leaders.

        All self-evident nonsense.

        In reality, you create someone who manages numbers, because they don’t know enough about what they’re managing to actually be useful. So they eschew insight and innovation in lieu of market research and industry surveys.

        Fundamentally, an MBA is also not a risk taker, and innovation is a risky activity. If you’re a risk taker you go out and start a company and work your way up. Or you work in an existing company as an innovator. You don’t spend three years of nonsense at a college, then walk out expecting to enter the C-suite because of a piece of paper. That’s the opposite of risk taking. That’s risk avoidance. And it shows that the concept of the average MBA as a risk taker is pure marketing.

        But the worst aspect of the MBA fantasy is that it breeds contempt for the people who actually are the experts and innovators. In reality, this is a subconscious threat response: the average MBA is terrified experts and technologists, because they know that most of those people could easily (and should easily) be doing their job. The reverse is not true. “Mediocre But Arrogant” is not only true: it’s deliberate.

        I strongly encourage anyone interested in this to listen to the ABC Background Briefing show entitled “MBA: Mostly Bloody Awful”. And I will guarantee you that any maker or innovator will be furious at the end of this show:

  19. I resolved never to buy Sony goods after the Rootkit scandal in 2005. Even if they turn their company policies around, I don’t think I’ll be back. Ever.

  20. The sad thing is, if you want to play video games you can’t really say “Screw Sony, I’ll support the good guys”–because there aren’t any good guys with a game catalog worth speaking of. It’s Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, and they’re all evil in various ways and abuse customers with lock-in, DMCA threats and region codes.

    I mean, yeah, there’s nethack and Oolite and FreeCiv, but…

    1. Uh, that’s not exactly the case.

      Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have a trioply on the CONSOLE market, not the VIDEO GAME market – and there are still plenty of games out there that you can play on a PC (or an x86-based Mac, if you so choose).

      Here are a few examples:

      The Red Faction series.
      The Command & Conquer series
      Beat Hazard
      The DOOM series
      The Half-Life series
      The Unreal series
      The Quake series

      The list goes on, and on, and on, gentlemen.

        1. that is a pretty good point, there doesnt seem to be much reason why they wouldnt support linux. but for all we know, its next on the list after mac and they’re working on it as we speak. i’m giving them the benefit of the doubt because gabe seems smart enough to me to do something like that

          1. Valve will more than likely extend support to Linux if there is enough of a demand. a lot of their stuff was written for directX and windows, once they get the openGL versions working to the point where they’re satisfied, and they code a compatible client, it would be much easier (though not trivial) to add Linux support. I say this because I have a feeling valve is trying to go for a sort of buy once, play anywhere mentality, especially with the PS3 portal 2 coming with a code to download for the PC for free. meaning you pay for the content, not the system it’s on, which is something I support completely.

            like i said before, they need to have enough demand. so go out and create some ;)

  21. 46DCEAD317FE45D80923EB97E4956410D4CDB2C2 is the Dongle USB Key, and not the one Sony is getting arsey about.

    erk: C0 CE FE 84 C2 27 F7 5B D0 7A 7E B8 46 50 9F 93 B2 38 E7 70 DA CB 9F F4 A3 88 F8 12 48 2B E2 1B
    riv: 47 EE 74 54 E4 77 4C C9 B8 96 0C 7B 59 F4 C1 4D
    pub: C2 D4 AA F3 19 35 50 19 AF 99 D4 4E 2B 58 CA 29 25 2C 89 12 3D 11 D6 21 8F 40 B1 38 CA B2 9B 71 01 F3 AE B7 2A 97 50 19

    R: 80 6E 07 8F A1 52 97 90 CE 1A AE 02 BA DD 6F AA A6 AF 74 17
    n: E1 3A 7E BC 3A CC EB 1C B5 6C C8 60 FC AB DB 6A 04 8C 55 E1
    K: BA 90 55 91 68 61 B9 77 ED CB ED 92 00 50 92 F6 6C 7A 3D 8D
    Da: C5 B2 BF A1 A4 13 DD 16 F2 6D 31 C0 F2 ED 47 20 DC FB 06 70

    Thats the set people should be tweeting.

  22. Brilliant article.

    Look what ‘almost’ happened to Microsoft. Before Kinect and Windows 7, they were as useless as the largest tech company gets. Now, by welcoming the hacking community to Kinect, Microsoft may have just revived their sagging fortunes.

    What is Move ? A Wii ripoff. And it took them 5 years more than Wii to get there. Once upon a time, Playstation was the only console I had heard about. Now, I know that when I save enough money, it’s going to Redmond.

    Sony needs to adapt to the changing times. The tech community is more vibrant than ever. Thanks to internet, more people are in contact with each other than in 5 billion years of the universe’s history. And best of all ? They are getting attracted to hacking, making and innovating. The DIY culture is undergoing a revolution. The community is all set to expand. And a tech company that makes enemies in the tech community is doing itself no good.

    To give a crude example, most of the people I know call me for a ‘sanction’ on their tech-purchase plans. If someone calls me with a ‘PS3 or XBox’, I’ll have a solid answer, and a solid reason for them. I never recommend Vaio laptops to anyone. The car audio community never recommends Sony products, although I don’ t think that’s the case with home audio.

    Look at motherboard manufacturers, they have, what I’d like to think, the highest interaction between industry and community today. Look at how motherboards have evolved. Look at how a brand like ASRock could gain a respectable share by just having very good interaction with the PC gaming community.

    Unless Sony mends its ways, its tactics will send it to where it belongs – the past. It’s not like we’re lacking innovation, or a company that’s willing to invest in it.

  23. You mention users in your article, but not the headline. Along with proprietary flash media (memory sticks) rather than generic, dime-a-dozen compact flash or SD-Cards, the single. most. annoying. thing. ever. that Sony did to me was fail to post online the software necessary to download video from a camcorder. I borrowed the camcorder from a relative, shot video, then went to Sony’s download site to grab the software to use the camcorder—Because—Who would want it other than someone with the camcorder? It’s not like it’s a revenue source. At this point it’s an obsolete camera, and my relative moved and lost his install CD. So he’s got a $1000 Sony Camcorder that has major partial functionality. They haven’t made it in years. Why isn’t that software downloadable? Is it because Sony wants to make fifty bucks on a box of old install CDs in a warehouse somewhere? (Because last time my relative checked, they were available, but he wasn’t going to buy it just because of General Principles.)

    The lesson, not only to Makers, Hackers, and Innovators, but also to everyday Users, is to Never, Never, NEVER buy Sony.

    Matthew Robbins

  24. An astounding piece of journalism!! :D This proves how wrong is the industry, we have grown as users, we need to open our devices! BTW I first got pissed off with Sony this generation when they dropped PS2 emulation from the PS3

  25. It all comes down to the greed of lawyers who for all practical purposes produce nothing innovative in and of themselves, but ensure their own sustanence, greedily in a frenzy.

  26. Ha, nice! I went to the press contact page and selected I am a CONSUMER interested in PROVIDING FEEDBACK, and it pops up the contact form for press members that says “if you are not a member of the media, do not use this form.”

    1. OH, OH, OH!!! I totally forgot…
      When I was 23, I hacked the Sony Walkman that I worked REALLY hard to afford. I am a guitar player, so i figured that if you tap into the play head of the tape player and input an electric guitar signal, I could JAM along with the tape at fairly equal volumes.
      So Am I guilty of ?????
      Should I be sued!
      WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Is this still the land of the free ad the home of the brave?

  27. About the Bleem situation: back in 98/99 the PSX was still going strong, and the fact that you could emulate it on a midend PII meant almost everyone could use it.

    I think the situation got even worst when they released Bleemcast, which allowed you to play PSX games on the Sega Dreamcast, which was becoming popular. So sony went ahead and killed both Bleem and the Dreamcast.

    And may I add that sony also disabled the HDD posibilities of the PS2, and that sucked pretty bad since hackers had found a way to copy your games there, which dramatically shortened loading times, let alone saving that craptastic DVD drive sony made, which broke down every 5 sec. Now if you buy a PS2 you have to deal with all those loading times and broken lens, you’re SOL.

  28. A suggestion (if it’s not too late?):

    “To recap: Sony delays disclosing the vulnerability and then it turns out they also violated the GPL.”

    might benefit from a little additional explicit clarification (for those who aren’t necessarily familiar with the GPL/licensing issues) that in other words, Sony’s “copyright protection software” itself violated someone else’s copyright.

    Other than that quibble, I thought it was a terrific article, which I am saving for future reference.

  29. 10 – 12 years ago, I was a HUGE fan of Sony and its products. Name any consumer product category and the best usually turns up Sony. But now all the products and innovations are gone. Other companies have overtaken them and left them in the dust. Its imposible recommending any Sony product now.

    So what does Sony do? They blindly protect what they have, not bothering with doing what it did best, make cool and high performing products. Death is coming, Sony.

    Apple is somewhat like Sony, but their innovation streak is going strong which is why its doing great. And what it did with the iPhone was push the other manufacturers to make even better products just to compete with it. We LOVE this! Motorola did this, Samsung too.. but Sony-Ericsson… nope. It took them years to update the software in Xperia and that too an older version! Is Sony running out of smart people? It sure seems so!

    1. i dont know ,since when would sons name come up in any catagory of consumer electronic as the best,that is bullshit,even 12 years ago,even 20 years ago,it because of their marketing,their consumer electronic have always been cheap crap,the only reason it was popular was marketing,and because most people were/are just too stupid to know the difference,it far far far from top of the line in any catagory,there are just so many stupid people who believe it is,i will give you an example,their stereo components ,both home and car,and their speakers both hom eand car,people think its the best,because they are just ignorant,its bottom of the line crap,clarion and alipine make much better car stereos,there are many companies that make better car speakers,pretty much all of em,like boston acoustics,there home stereo recivers are crap and always have been ,any thing form onkyo to denon,to harmon kardon ,to mcintosh(if your rich)are better,there home speakers are pure garbage,american companies like bose and cambridge soundworks and boston acoustics have them beat by a million fold,like the other companies i mentioned have them beat by a million fold in the receiver catagory,,adcom,B+W,ads,paradigm,also other much better than sony ,i could go on all day in the stereo catagory,i cant really think of any catagort they exceled in EVER,digital cameras,no,cannon,casio,nikon,and many more have them beat by a long shot,computers,eh ,not to bad i have a vaio laptop,but certainly not the best,always like mitshbishi and jvc for vcr’s and televisions,mitsubishi diamond vision were waaaay better in the rear crt projection catagory back in the day,although i do own a sony cineza hs-10 lcd frontal projector ,wasnt bad for the money but not the best,there trinitron crt tv back in the day were really good and the walkman ,but not much else really ,its ok mediocre stuff ,its an ok deal for the money but none of could be called the best in any category as you suggest,sure not everyone can afford a mcintosh tube receiver or a bang and olfsen,or even bose ,but there still are better choices for the money out there,i once considered buying a 5.1 surround sound system(5 satalites ,a sub,and a receiver)( from them,mainly i liked the
      way it looked),but after i went to caimbridge soundworks,and heard a similar priced system there was no comparison,it was about 30 times louder and 200 times the quality,the package was bundled with a sony receiver ,incidentally ,but the guy at the store asked if id like to upgrade to the oknyo for another 100,the onkyo receiver didnt have half the gadgets or buttons on the remote ,but i got it anyway after the guy at the store told me the sony was crap and no comparison to the oknyo,and he was totally right,and now i need a new 1 anyway ,as it right befor hdmi hit,so now im stuck with spdif and component in/out puts,there total success is completely media driven ,its their image and branding that has made successful ,certainly not their crappy consumer electronic products,

      also it was team fail overflow that did alot of the work on the ps3 ,not team twiizers,yes i know there part of it,and marcan was also named as a defendant in the case ,so it is team fail overflows former team twiizer members that are being sued as well

  30. I posted your story to my FaceBook wall; a former co-worker of mine, who shall remain nameless, and who now works at Sony, replied thusly…

    “…with all due respect, I work for Sony. I don’t see anything in this article that is different than what any other manufacturer would do. Not sure why this guy blogging from his basement (and you) feel the need to single us out.”

    I thought you’d like some perspective from someone on the hardware side. Thanks for the article.

    1. “blogging from his basement”, really? he or she didn’t read the article “The talented artists, designers, and engineers who work at Sony deserve better, and their customers deserve better.”…

      1. Yes, she went there… :-/

        Here’s a further reply from her, verbatim – let’s play a game of “Count the Strawmen!”, shall we?

        “…while the statements that are presented in this article may indeed be true, it is hardly a full and objective account of the whole situation. The assumption being made is that Sony is intentionally going after just “the little guy” who… just wants to mess around and design some cool software to use on their system. We both know the real world scenario is that there are hackers out there that are just looking for an opportunity to hack into a system like a PS3 and mess around and cause some damage because they can! When they’ve had their fun, who is left with the job and expense of cleaning up the damage to both the customers and the brand? SONY, not the hacker who has turned tale and run! I don’t see how you can criticize any company for trying to protect itself from copyright infringement and potential security risks.

        This kid that hacked into the system may not have had any “sinister” intent, but you can’t say that about every potential hacker that gets in. Because of that, it only makes sense that Sony or any company for that matter, takes steps to protect itself.

        We will obviously agree to disagree on this topic I’m sure, but I encourage you to think of it from outside the limited viewpoint of this article and consider the larger implications that may have driven some of these decisions.”

        1. “who is left with the job and expense of cleaning up the damage to both the customers and the brand? SONY, not the hacker who has turned tale and run!”

          which hacker ran? geohot is releasing rap videos and blogging about getting sued by sony.

          what damage did the AIBO hackers cause? what damage did geohot cause? is there a specific example of damage? or only the “potential of damage”.

          what was the damage with someone making ipod cases from old sony walkman?

          please invite your sony facebook friend to stop by the comments here, i’m sure everyone would love to chat with a sony employee that can provide thoughts outside this “limited viewpoint”.

  31. The article states 6 incidents that portray Sony at war with hackers, and most of the emphasis is on the gaming division. Your statements about region encoding are completely ridiculous, because there is no region locking on PS3 and PSP games. It’s all the other systems that have region locking.

    You completely gloss over the fact that the PS2 and PS3 are the only 2 major consoles to embrace and let users install Linux on them. And Sony didn’t take any action against the Linux usage until GeoHot used it to start breaking the integrity of the system. Coincidentally, as soon as the integrity of the system broke down, the online functionality of one of its most popular games was ruined by cheaters and modders.

    But yeah, your right. The company that has supported Linux on it’s last two consoles, has done away with region encoding on their games, supports users upgrading their hard drive with standard hard drives, lets 3rd parties make their own wireless controllers, lets game developers develop their own online gaming infrastructure so it can support in game user content creations (like Little Big Planet, Modnation racers) long before anyone else did, and it still the only console to allow PC generated user created content (Unreal Tournament 3) is way more evil than the companies that purposely create proprietary hardware interfaces (xbox hard drive), purposely creating new interfaces to force you to buy new av cables (xbox 360 av, xbox 360 controllers, wii av), a home development environment that you have to pay a yearly subscription (on top of your existing gaming subscription) to develop on the system (and then still not be able to share those creations with anyone else unless they also pay). And lets not even mention the tens of millions of dollars MS has shoveled into companies like SCO in an effort to extinguish Linux, because that doesn’t even have 1/100th of the impact to the hacking community as Sony buying and installing some cruddy copy protection software scheme to use on 50 music CDs that they recalled.

    1. Region enconding was enforced and present in the PS2, and that’s what the article refers to. There’s also an (unused for now) region encoding flag available for developers in the PS3, if they choose to make use of it.
      They didn’t support Linux on the PS2…
      They have also stated their discontent with third party hardware manufacturers (the ones you claim they support) in recent firmware updates – just read the EULA.

      Finally, “the online functionality of one of its most popular games was ruined by cheaters and modders” is a blissful lie. The cheating in that game existed way before then, and it’s done through the save game file, has nothing at all to do with Linux or even Jailbreaking.

      Also, someone mentioned earlier that they installed a rootkit in 3.56, which isn’t true. The rootkit has been there for years, and sends information to Sony the moment you turn on the console if there’s an active internet connection – whether you log on to PSN or not.

  32. Decent article Phillip, thank you. One point though is that although GeoHot did some useful work in hacking the PS3, the truly key work was done by others, most notably Team Twiizers, so you should really mention them too.

      1. I do understand why it makes sense from a journalistic perspective to focus on GeoHot, all I’m suggesting is a small mention of the importance of Team Twiizers in getting the PS3 running homebrew again (after Linux was removed). You just have to mention them in passing. The way the current article reads it seems like GeoHot did all the PS3 hacking himself. I’m trying to consider this story being read by a wider audience not necessarily aware of the full history of the exploits. Thank you for you consideration Phillip.

  33. What I find funny is the difference in opinion. Game companies and news sites have done such a good job at making anti piracy cool that people dont know what they are bashing. Ive seen people wish GeoHot dead cause he allows piracy on PS3 which isnt even the main issue.

    First off maybe 2% of PS3 owners will hack the system. About 1% of them will use it for piracy. The numbers are insignificant and games still sell. The original Xbox had a lot of people who used modchips. I was one of them but I didnt pirate games. I installed games to my HDD for fast loading and also so I could select them from a list never needing any discs. These were games I owned. I also used it for Homebrew software like XBMC. There are alot of great uses for a game console outside of retail games and hacking allows it. If companies released a homebrew SDK no hacking would EVER happen but they dont.

    1. well geohot never did enable piracy ,and even if he did it would have been a little late because piracy was already possible months earlier,ever since the release of the ps jailbreak
      and there is no way that 1% of ps3 users are pirating games its not even a quater of a % of the ps3 userbase that even has a jb or cfw console,the wii was the most hacked console ever and only slightly less than 1% had a modded wii and not all of them were modded to allow piracy,just like he gets blamed for people cheating when people have been cheating even way before the psjailbreak came out ,its an exploit in a save file and has nothing to do with cfw of jailbreak that allowed cheating,but people are ignorant,especially fanboys who have no idea whats in their own best interest,the idea that piracy hurts the game industry ,or any industry is outright ridiculous on its face,just like napster and 2p2 clients and torrents have put brittney spears in the poor house,she already signed away 98% of her profits when she signed on to her label,so if she is out buying 25 million dollar mansions on 2% of her earnings despite piracy,then im sure the label is doing just fine with the other 98%,also lets not forget that thats just the record industry,the movie industry is even more profitable ,and the video game industry as far surpassed even the movie industry in terms of profits,more money is spent in developing even the shittiest game that is spent on the largest blockbuster movie and the returns are so astronomically higher its ridiculous

  34. I understand your love of Sony products, they’ve got some great features. The problem is Sony hates the hacker community. Every time you buy one of their products, they attack the community…with the money you just handed them. The only way to stop this beast is to choke it out by not supporting it. I’m done buying Sony products because I love the hacker community.

    It’s time to draw the lines of war. Either you care about the hacker community or you buy Sony products. I know where I stand, where do you?

    1. Actually, there are other ways (in addition to that) to stop this beast.

      Not only choking it out (which won’t even be that effective, but is important), but also actively working against them.

      That ranges from lobbying for the laws that they’re using to be repealed (the soap box), to helping finance lawsuits against them and defenses against their lawsuits (the jury box), to voting people into office who oppose Sony (the ballot box), and finally to, ah, watering the tree of liberty with the blood of the tyrants in charge of Sony (the ammo box).

  35. Once a die-hard Sony fan (my original(!) Walkman needed to be replaced 3 times before I got a fully functioning unit) and a Trinitron enthusiast, I watched their products deteriorate into generic quality over the years. When a gift of blank Sony CDs ruined my operating system (mac), after jamming it numerous times, I finally got the word of their malicious root kit. Knowing firsthand of this attack on innocent bystanders I immediately dropped Sony from all future shopping lists and have never looked back. The cult of Sony is for losers. To my mind they’re a failed company, it’s just pure manufacturing volume that insures some useful products keep the public appeased. If you make enough crap someone will surely be enticed to speculate or even purchase. Word-of-mouth needs to return in a big way! You’re more likely to believe friends’ experiences than ads (Sony is verboten in my house).

  36. Sony are going to be launching a dev kit for the magic wand to try and capture the same market that Microsoft did with Kinetic. Need a journalist to stand up and ask why anyone would want to do this with all the law suits that Sony bring to attack their consumers. Then the community needs to warn others makers not to engage with them.

    1. i think this article will help, i’ll also follow up if and when sony releases a sdk for the magic wand, it would good to see some the top tech / gadget sites ask sony to reconsider their war on makers as well…

  37. What GeoHot did Is ultimately harming legit customers. Why did Linux go? GeoHot. Why do I have to put up with lengthy updates that add no new featues? GeoHot. Why are there people cheating In games over PSN? GeoHot. Why will PS3 games get serial keys? You guessed It, GeoHot again. I hope Sony win the lawsuit.

    1. can you provide a specific example of sony stating they removed linux support because of geohot? or he caused cheating on psn?

      1. Actually, in Sony’s words, they removed Other OS support because of a potential security vulnerability found in OOS. this was in retaliation to Geo posting on his blog about 1 week prior to that firmware release. However, on the Slim model, Other OS was removed from the start, and it had no way to recover that functionality. discuss.

        As for the cheating however, it’s completely bull. you don’t need to hack your PS3 to cheat in CoD or games in general. this was actually more of a coincidence as the hacks were released around the same time. Most games that are hacked use glitches. MW2 was a great example, where people hide in rocks, go outside the map, and generally become a pain in the rear to fight. a sort of arms race of glitching is present in those games and it’s no DIY/Maker’s fault. It’s a mix of shifty programming and people taking advantage of situations they shouldn’t be able to.

        I actually have hacked my PS3, and it’s NOT for piracy, nor do I support that community! I want to program in an environment that is easier to use, with less limitations than on the original highly locked down other os. it’s a matter of having fun and producing something good.

        Geo also stated that his work MAY EVENTUALLY give pirates a way into the system, but you needed a specific product first, program it, then solder small wires, turn it on, corrupt a very specific memory address at precisely right time, then pray things didn’t go sideways and break your system. Honestly, the weekend pirate wouldn’t have gone through all that work just to play a few free games (as the tools would be more expensive than the system itself, and there was a huge risk of turning your shiny ps3 into a paperweight).

        It was the work of other pirate groups that worked away from Geo that got games pirated, and they didn’t even use his exploit. The ps3 now has a no wire, software only hack, and Sony is banning those that pirate and/or log in to PSN. and to those that do that, they deserve everything they get. I don’t expect everyone to act as ‘noble’ as I do, but I pay for my games, I make sure that everything is legit on my end, and I don’t expect to be treated like a criminal just because I’m ‘equipped to be one.’ it’s like saying that a woman is ‘equipped to be a hooker’ just because she has a vagina; it’s a baseless and condescending idea.

        As an aside, most people in the piracy groups hate or strongly dislike Geo, they think he’s got a massive ego (“egohot”), and that he steals other people’s work. So, I’d say all the general public hate on geo is a bit misplaced, and those people should really examine the fine details.

        1. well its not just the piracy scene that dislikes geohot and think he has an ego its alot of people in the ps3 scene in general,has nothing to do with them being pirates or not,and geohot cfw could be enabled to allow backup manager without any soldering wires as you say or hardmods needed,all that needed to be done to it was to patch lv2 ,another somod,he even said in a video he made “omg omg omg dont patch lv2,or you will brick”some eople saw it as a warning others said he was droping a hint,also your wrong about the slims it was founf by team fail overflow that there is no reason for linux not to work on the slim ,it has nothing to do with the slim not having the hardware capability,yes they did make the descision to pull other os on the slim ling before geohot and im assuming that were going to remove upport for it on the fat as well ,i dont think their descision had anything to do with geohot,and the peolple that helped develop the lv2 patch and the ability to add peek and poke syscalls to geohots cfw(i step i forgot to mention above)are not part of some piracy scene they are part o the general ps3 scene,there are legit reasond to be able to patch lv2 ,if you want to use homebrew and still be able to play games ,yes even legit games you need to patch lve because of the firmware requirement,you have to run the game from a backeup because it wont run from the disec if it requires a newer fw than you are using and that you have to use in oreder to have homebrew support,you need to edit the sfo and modify the eboot in some cases,plus its much more convienient to play from a hdd and have to keep putting discs in ,and not to mention that games load fasted for the hdd than from blu-ray and you conserve your laser wich is expensive and difficult to replace and frequently burns out,and also putting your discs away to avoid scratching is yet another legit reason for backups,sony are bastards,they are not charging you for a licence to use their software/game thay are charging you 50-60$ for a $1 plastic disc,dont believe me?well just call them and tell them you have a game and your blu-ray disc is scratched and it wont work and then ask them if you can mail back to them with just replacement cost of the medium that the software is on and not the cost of the licence as well,to have them mail you back a fresh new unscratched working copy,and you see what they tell you ,theyll tell you go fuck yourself,and give us another 50$,

    2. The first one, you’ve got backwards. GeoHot did the glitch exploit against the PS3 because Sony pulled Linux from the Slim.

      As for the others… no. It’s not GeoHot’s fault. It’s either Sony’s fault, or it’s the fault of those who are cheating and copying games. GeoHot may have helped them, but he didn’t actually (as far as we know) cheat at or copy a single game, and he stated that his goals ran counter to that.

    3. god peoles ignorance never ends does it. fist ,sony was already planning on removing linux BEFORE GEOHOT glitched the ram and started dumping the hypervisor,and geohot never even released any of his work or his hack to the public then ,(even though he promised he would)you would be putting up with it anyway without geohot,team ps jailbreak from australia are the ones the broke the ps3 security first,they were the first ones to allow jailbreak and they didnt use any of geohot work of hack to do it ,they are not at all related,now for your most ignorant statement,people were cheating long before geohot ever released anything ,and even long before ps jailbreak,cheating is done through a save file exploit,not cfw,not jailbreak,and has nothing to do with geohot,and was already possible without him,and as to your almost as equally ignorant or i should say ridiculous statement ,no sony will never get or use serial keys,IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN,even if it does it can and will easily circumvented,just like it is on the pc and they know that,and they know it will really hurt them unlike their ridiculous claims that “piracy”is hurting them ,this actually will,and companies like game stop will be suing them left and right,you are so stupid and and such a dumb brainwashed sony fanboy that your dont even know wht is or isnt in your own best interest,so keep on drinking the corporate kool-aid idiot,soon you wont have any right at all ,nor will YOU deserve them

  38. Die Sony Die!!!

    Although that is very unlikely, the decisions Sony is making now are pleasing many, Microsoft must be having a blast out of this. It’s great for Microsoft, it’s great for Microsoft fans and bad only to Sony and it’s customers.

    I beleive jailing hardware hardly works for good and I think Sony is shooting it’s own foot. But in the end I beleive this is a good thing. Many companies including Sony will take the results of this attitude as a lesson learned (as Microsoft already has with Kinect) and in the end we will all benefit from learned mistakes.

    It’s like a child that does not beleive the fire is hot until he gets the hands burned.

  39. In the 1980’s Sony Corp. sued Baltimore area Filipino restaurant, “Sony’s” for $2.9 million.. It was named after the founder Sony Florendo. Even changing the name to “Sony Florendo’s” wasn’t good enough. It was still copyright infringement. Still incredible to think about.

  40. Recurring revenue, not one time revenue, is what drives company value. Apple and Sony know this. Giving your customers the freedom to mashup your products and services without any hooks does not create recurring revenue, and neither does giving your customers total freedom to choose competing products and services down the road. Apple and Sony know this also. Companies who know this and act on it will end up buying or driving out of business the companies who don’t know it. And it turns out there is an endless supply of teenagers who want the thing their friends all have, to sustain the model. By the time they grow older and start caring about the leash around their neck, there will be millions of new teenagers to replace them. Ain’t progress grand, though?

  41. A rather pathetic one sided view of things,

    No mention that Sony were the onyl company to support homebrew developers with PS1 NetYaroze.

    No mention that the PS2 offered a PS2 Linux kit for home devs

    No mention that Sony offered PS3 Linux (until Sony took it away because GeoHot was using it to hack the PS3 to enable piracy)

    No Mention of Move.Me

    It also fails to mention the similar actions of many other large corporations who do the exact same thing to protect their income and IP.

    1. your pathetic ,geohot never hacked it to allow piracy,they were removing linux anyway,ps jailbreak team from australia enabled piracy and it had nothing at all to do with geohot ,they didnt use any of his work or hacks,and geohot never even released his exploit when he was using linux and glitched the memory to gain access to the hypervisor,he promised he would release his hack but never did
      when he released his cfw he deliberately made it so lv2 was not not patched to enable piracy or backups,i have nothing against what sony is now trying to call piracy anyway,its not piracy ,its fair use,if there so concerned about piracy,real piracy, why do they manufacture their consoles in china?why like all corporations did they want china in the wto so badly,could it be because they want to exploit people for cheap labor ,and they know that the gains there getting from using cheap labor ,far outweigh any piracy,(the real kind,the counterfeiting kind,not the fair use being called piracy by sony) that could come from china having access to their hardware,not that they even need it,they have tons of factories with commercial pressing machines over there that have been counterfeiting ps3 games since before the ps3 was even released,requires no “hacking”they can make perfect 1:1 copies of anything,bluray ,dvd,or any other kind of optical medium ,i dont see them trying to get china out of the wto to try and slow down that sort of thing ,thats real piracy,not people using backup managers ,that will never amount to even half of 1% of all ps3 owners,and if they are and were still posting record profits quarter after quarter before and after the hacks,even with the Chinese shipping boatloads of counterfeit ps3 games and blu ray movies all over the world every single day,then obviously its not hurting their bottom line one bit,and people hacking their console and using cfw will never amount to 1:10000000000000th of a %of the counterfeiting that is going by the chinese,hahaha protect their income my ass ,they are loosing nothing from this ,that they call “piracy”if they were concerned about their IP or were loosing money from their IP being compromised they wouldnt outsource to china and lobby to get them in the wto,i like how they called it fair use when they wanted to sell beta-max but now that the argument doesnt benefit them they change their tune,they are trying to change the law ,the law that they themselves bought,i guess they didnt even have the forsigt to see how much more greedy they would become,or they just messed up wording it as bad as they messed up the security on the ps3,and psp,people have every right to do whatever they want to their own property after they buy it,its theirs,they own it,not sony,and yes other companies are trying to do the same or similar things,M$ and ninty included,stop blaming geohot ,and to the poster above you ,also an ignorant statement,geohot is not arguing about using psn,his work had absolutely nothing to do with psn,never did,you sound like the people who blame him for enabling peole to cheat on psn too,which he also never did ,there were people cheating even before the ps jailbreak,and if geohot was never born there would still be ps jailbreak ,that would have allowed cheating and piracy,even if cheating wasnt already possible by save file exploits,which it was,people are just so ignorant and like to post about stuff that thet have no idea about ,and have never read or researched about,say what you want about sonys so called attempt to aid homebrew and home developers ,but any tool that they themselves released was gutted out crap,like ps3 linux ,now full spe access ,no rsx access,now they want to set a precedent that will serve as example for any other company ,to be allowed to sue you for using your property in a way said company doesnt like

  42. What you so blindly fail to mention is that many of the things that Sony have struck out against where methods people used to get around having to pay for something. There is nothing wrong with hacking your own PS3, YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ON LINE. Makes perfect sense to anybody who is intelligent.

  43. A dramatic battle between people who take themselves way too fucking seriously and people who take themselves way too fucking seriously with slightly lower standards of hygiene.

  44. Disappointing that you didn’t mention one of Sony’s biggest acts of corporate bastardry, and which spectacularly backfired on them: Sony vs. Stevens in Australia.

    Sony attempted to sue Eddy Stevens, a small storefront mod chip installer.

    Somewhat to Sony’s surprise, he self-represented himself right up to the High Court (US readers think “Supreme Court”), using the argument that he was simply allowing people to play imported titles. For those unfamiliar with the technology, Sony chose to use the same technique to enforce both region coding and copy protection. Stevens argued that he was defeating region coding, and the fact that this inadvertently defeated was irrelevant.

    Further, Stevens argued that regional coding is an unfair restraint of trade because it prevented people from playing legally purchased games from overseas on hardware they owned. It all came down to the definition of a “technical protection measure” under the law, and the high court concluded that Stevens was right.

    So Sony not only failed to prevent someone producing a mod chip, they set a legal precedent which conflated regional coding with an illegal restraint of trade! A spectacular own goal.

    This judgment goes beyond video games, and also includes other regional coding schemes such as Blu-Ray and DVD. This has never been tested in court, as most lawyers I have spoken to feel that the judgment sets a very high bar for a litigant to overcome. Almost all DVD players sold in Australia, even Sony’s, don’t enforce region encoding anymore.

    High Court Justice Michael Kirby included this commentary, which should warm the heart of any Maker:

    * Sony’s interpretation would give Sony ‘a de facto control over access to copyrighted works or materials that would permit the achievement of economic ends additional to, but different from, those ordinarily protected by copyright law’ (ie, market segmentation through region-coding);
    * Sony’s interpretation would lead to a position in law which ‘clearly impinges on what would otherwise be the legal rights of the owner of a Sony CD ROM and PlayStation console to copy the same for limtied purposes and to use and modify the same for legitimate reasons, as in the pursuit of that person’s ordinary rights as the owner of chattels’. A person who purchases a Sony CD Rom in Japan or the US ‘should … be entitled to copy teh CD ROM and modify the console in such a way as to enjoy his or her lawfully acquired property without inhibition’;
    * a broad interpretation here would ‘chill … technological development’ by chilling new technologies to protect copyright owners.

    Those who criticize lawyers need to look at not only the crooks, but also people like Justice Kirby, who have spent their life using the law to make life better. Unfortunately, Justice Kirby retired in 2009.

  45. IT all comes down to the JAPANESE culture which SONY embraces and uses in its operations and that is submission to higher authority. The Japanese are loyal to the governement to death, basically tehy are submissive. This is their culture and it has caried on thru SONY which believes it is the authority and its users are to do as SONY dictates; end of story.

    I used to be a SONY ELECTORNICS ONLY kind of guy but no more. After getting screwed by themn over 2 PS3 systems, both of which failed in a very short erido of time (that darn Blue Ray Disc drive) , and seeing SONYS “SO What SCrew You PS3 users” attitude towards the thousands who had similiar hardware failures (my PS2 and PS1 both still work to this day) I’m not suprised to see SONY so hated by the masses.

    I blieve the only salavation fro SONY is to go to bankruptcy and then be forced (in order to sruve) to change their midnset and approach to inovation and their dictorial control over the use of legally purchased copies of tehir products.

    1. no i think think that is a ridiculous statement,it has absolutly nothing to do with japanese culture ,and it has everything in the world to do with CORPORATE CULTURE ,they are the same as any other big greedy corporatio they will try to get away with whatevere they can ,as long as it increaces their bottom lime then the consumer be dammed ,it has nothing to do with it being a japanese company ,its more ike greedy ameriacn culture of the free market capitalist culture

  46. While you’re on the mark with most of these, I’m compelled to observe that at the time Bleem was released, the PlayStation was at the very peak of its popularity. It was promoted as a way for people to play current, popular PlayStation software without having to buy a console. Bleem was not an abandonware product.

    (The legalities of limiting just what hardware you should get to play a retail game with, when console games are often published under a licence that entangles the title with the hardware manufacturer, are somewhat murkier.)

  47. You couldn’t make this up – after April’s mass hack of Sony PSN, a user has just discovered an “exploit” on their website designed to help users reset their passwords. Apparently with a user’s e-mail address and date of birth, a hacker could reset any user’s account. As far as I’m concerned, that is data recently compromised by Epsilon, so I can be grateful I’m not a Sony customer, nor likely to be. But for those who are…that’s not an exploit, that’s rank amateur design.

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  50. The only way to get out of this ongoing mess is to remove the corporate lawyers and money from the courts. In a fait legal system, it should be the law that determines right from wrong, and not the ability to over buy the opposition and sit on cases for decades. As far as I’m concerned, both parties should have to go into court with a randomly court appointed lawyer with all the sequested paperwork up front, and not be allowed out until the case is done. There would be a lot less frivolous cases where their the only chance of winning is because its too expensive to take them on. Society has become sick with puppet governments dancing to the tune of big business – its just cost us a world-wide depression that is far from over, and most of the guilty earned good jobs (on government) and massive payouts as their punishments – their companies bailed out by the public purse.
    On top of this, America tries to push its laws across the globe, using the same sort of schemes to remove web sites etc as they would call electronic terrorism if perpatrated against them. All the greates inventions and discoveries came form people uninhibited by the legal tangle we see around us now. What does this foretell of future developement with ingenuity, intelligence and discovery stmied by fat cats with pockets full of dodgy patents.
    I read a news story about a pub in the UK named “The Hobbit”. It had had the name for almost a centuary, but Hollywood decided it was copyrighted. WTF? Apart from the fact it was copyright owned by the author (Tolken) and was published in 21 September 1937 – that means under UK law (where the book was written and the pub is) that means it was free of copyright in 2007 (70 years from publication). There have been several films, TV series, books and computer games using the characters and themes. Also, many of the creatures are not Tolken’s invention anyway, but date back to Norse and Anglo-Saxon myths. However, the pub could never take on MGM, so changed the name.

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