PS3 Could Suffer Piracy Levels Higher Than PSP

By Colin Tan on January 13, 2011, 8:51PM EDT

With the PlayStation 3 reportedly cracked wide open, Sony's console could potentially suffer worse levels of piracy than that of the PSP.

According to Martin Walfisz, one of the founders of Massive Entertainment, Sony will be unable to do anything to combat this problem since the crack doesn't require a modchip, making it incredibly easy for people to pirate games on Sony's console.

"If that hack works as reported, I don't believe that Sony can regain any control," Walfisz said. "They could try to employ a similar system to Xbox Live, so that people running hacked systems won't have access to PSN. But Sony won't be able to stop people from running pirated game copies as long as the machines are not hooked up online.

"And given that it seems that users won't even need a hardware mod-chip to play pirated games, I don't believe that Sony can even detect which users to lock out from PSN."

"They way the PS3 seems to have been hacked, it is now completely open. The hackers can create pirated copies that completely mimic the official Sony digital signature, making it extremely easy to use pirated copies of games, without the need for any hardware chip modifications.

"I would assume that pirated copies can be stored on the HDD as well, making it so easy to use that PS3 piracy, given time, might even surpass the handhelds."

The only real way Walfisz believes Sony can reclaim their console would be to revise the entire hardware, which is neither feasible nor likely due to the immense costs.

"I don't think that they can do much. Once a console is hacked this completely, the hardware manufacturer can't really do anything. They could maybe update their hardware for new console sales, which would be a long and expensive process, but that won't stop users from running pirated copies on the current hardware. And updating the hardware needs to be done in a way that doesn't prevent users from running already-released games. I doubt that can be done."

As a result of the situation, Sony has filed a lawsuit against hacker George Hotz and the fail0verflow group who have been ordered to give up all items pertaining to the crack. Interestingly, Carnegie Mellon University professor David Touretzky has mirrored the group's jailbreak files in support of "free speech and free computing rights."

Lawyer Jaz Purewal believes that Sony had no other choice but to go the legal route and that George Hotz and fail0verflow will be hardpressed to win against a claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

"The DMCA makes it illegal for you to try to circumvent technological protection measures which a software company puts in place to protect its software. One example is The Warden, the anti-bot program used in World of Warcraft (and recently in the court's spotlight as part of the WoW Glider case)," wrote Purewal.

"Another is the technical measures put in place by Sony in the PS3 which Hotz has now broken. [It's] difficult for me to see how Hotz will be able to avoid a successful DMCA claim."

"The PS3 console software is a copyright work, which you are only allowed to use in accordance with a EULA," continued Purewal.

"If you jailbreak that software, you are outside the scope of the EULA and therefore likely committing copyright infringement. Which is a bad thing - not least because, in the USA, it can lead to huge damage awards against the infringer."


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