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Geohot: Hero or Zero?

Posted by on 17/01/2011

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With Geohot facing legal action, the big question is whether his actions were justified or just downright negative towards the gaming industry.

Geohot started of “jailbreaking” iPhones in order to allow users to load custom software along with illegal apps. Also, it allowed folks to unlock their iPhone and use it out of the approved countries. Most users were actually happy about this because they would not have to pay for apps, and those living in non-approved countries were able to use it on other mobile networks without problem. Even though Apple tried to sue the failOverFlow team, they won on the grounds of “Fair Use” which says that devices can be modified once it is used for personal use and not sold or distributed to others.

Now Geohot and his team broke the PlayStation 3′s root encryption key, allowing for them to load in custom software to play modified (cracked) versions of games and DVDs.

PS3 fans were visibly upset with the situation because it meant the games they knew and loved were now at risk of being cracked, and as a result can affect online gameplay as well. To prove the point, Call of Doody: Modern Warfare 2 was recently shredded to pieces allowing hackers to change prestige and rank scores, use aimbots and other sneaky hacks.

Do you think Geohot should be persecuted for his actions though? Looking at other consoles like the PC and Xbox 360, programs and games are easily hacked and distributed for free. On the basis of fair use, if someone hacks a system for their own personal use, would the manufacter still have the right to drop a law suit on that said person? In my opinion, systems being hacked is not a matter of “if” but “when”. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) stated that “for an action to succeed under the DMCA, any protection system doesn’t have to be uncrackable, or state-of-the-art; all that’s required is for the company employing it to show that they have made an effort, and that it is non-trivial to crack.”

There are many technicalities behind the entire bill though and drawing a firm line between Sony and Geohot still has to be seen when the case is heard in court again. I do agree with the fair use policy, because anyone should be allowed to tinker with their systems to make it run how they want. However, it should not affect the lives of others and that includes distributing the software (free or paid) and modifying your own games to affect online gameplay of others (namely online hacks). Geohot and his team are great hackers in my opinion, showing their true skill and breaking down any challenging bit of encryption produced by the big names, but he did overstep the boundaries.

Sony on the other hand is taking an active step to protect its 41 million users by ensuring its system is secure as possible. That’s great news to hear because it really is a pain trying to play a game fairly when someone else uses hacks to easy rake up points. It’s a shame that other console developers like Microsoft have not taken that route as well. The PC market can be excluded obviously because of the potential computers have. Since they are not intended for gaming alone, the manufacturers and OS software developers should take no blame.

This leads me to my final point where gaming developers should take a serious note in ensuring their games are “hack-proof” if you want to put it that way. Rather than just sitting on their high horses and riding of Sony’s high horse, they should be proactive about checking whether software is legit or modified. Simple thinks like checksums could be put in place to make sure the software on a person’s system matches up with the server’s original. Obviously it goes well beyond that but folks like Geohot will always exist and game developers should work on better securing their source code rather than throwing around law suits.

What do you guys think? Did he do good to up the standards of the game and console devs or is he just a pain in the backside? Keep those comment civil!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YU67QZMUX23FBE33RSYECWN2KQ Nicholas

    Geohot has done nothing but damage gamers, with hacks, cheats, increased security and inevitable pirated games. Even if he says he didn’t want pirated games, its his initial step that will lead others into pirating. Damn shame.

    I dont love big companies, or corporations but some companies plain and simple deserve the revenue from the games they make, pirates on the PS3 have the potential to turn it into the PSP, which is a bad thing.

    He should apologise to Sony and to PS3 owners, I think its disgusting that he thinks he is justified under the ‘I want to bring other OS option back!!’ Bullshit, he didn’t use it, and very few people did, just a lame excuse to make himself look good. Stupid prick.

  • Anonymous

    I have got no time for people like Geohot, he new what he was doing and what would happen.

    I hope Sony can do everything possible to stop this and for other developers to work along with Sony and Microsoft because it affects everyone.

    I dont no but is it about time for Sony to start making people pay to play online like you do on 360 maybe that could help, im not sure but i hope they fix the problem soon.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/YTM2KQFBUOQLTGCIEFMUENEKAY JeepnDave

    hey world i found the account numbers of this really big corporation with $100 million dollars in it now i am giving you these numbers because i want you all to use the money for the charity of your choice…. that’s all i want the money to be used for and that’s why I am going to put these numbers on the internet for the whole world to see. knowing that there are only good people out there with only good intentions “wink wink” i just know that everyone out there that will use these account numbers will only use them for good “wink wink”……. no really world my only intention is that you all use the account numbers for good. i am totally against “pirating the account numbers for evil” and that is not why I am putting these numbers on the internet for the whole world to use “wink wink”!!!! in other words who ever believes his stupid arguement of he only wanted to get linux back on and open homebrew to everyone is a bunch of bullcrap. he may be young and stupid but he is not that naive to the way the real world works. he knew exactly what was going to happen when he released those codes pirated games and cheaters would be jumping all over it and ruining the gaming experience for millions of people who have no interest in homebrew or pirated games but are now expoesed to all this mess…….

  • Anonymous

    Geohot is an immature, attention-seeking, self-serving tool. He clearly knew what he did would open the door to piracy, and while he claims he put in anti-piracy measures, if one of the greatest hackers of our time has his anti-piracy measures hacked in less than a day, I find it _very_ hard to take him seriously.

    Which means that (despite what he said) he intentionally set out to make pirated games playable on PS3 – which hurts gamers, developers and publishers in numerous ways (primarily less games developed because of money lost to piracy and more cheating online).

    While I don’t like it when corporations sue individuals, in Geohot’s case he had it coming. In protecting their business, Sony is protecting their consumers, which just happen to be us, the gamers.

    I agree that devs may be able to implement measures to make sure the software is legit, but the money spent doing this is money not spent on gameplay or game features (extra maps, what have you) – so them being forced to do this means less game for everyone. Thanks Geohot, by pandering to thieves (there are far better and more secure ways to open up the PS3 to homebrew) you’ve made the gaming world a lesser place.

  • Anonymous

    bottom line- i really really missed playing ps2 games on my ps3, it made it so much more difficult having to have two systems, how ever it enabled games like mw2 to get hacked to pieces,

  • Anonymous

    yes, he did open the door to hackers, however, he also opened the door to allow custom software and total customization of the system. looking on the up side, i can run games that i made, i can make the interface more compatible to what i want and not have unused icons.

  • Anonymous

    If you want custom software and total customisation of the system buy a PC! You’ll find that they’re far, far easier to code for and customise than a PS3, even after it’s been hacked. Unless you’re into some mad co-processing and want access to cheap-ish (but not that cheap these days) access to the cell processor, and are keen to learn how to code for the SPUs, but don’t want to fork out for a PS3 devkit, then it’s like doing up a family wagon to look cool instead of buying a Mustang. Ie, just silly.

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