Yeah yeah, dead horse, but I still feel the need to speak out about this. So it would seem from what I've read in the commentary on the recent Sony articles that alot of people seem to be making the connection of hacker = pirate. So lets discuss this on LEGAL grounds only. Ethics is an entirely different matter, for now I'm only interested in the legality.
What are the hackers doing? Trying to crack their PS3's to bring back otherOS. Is this legal? Damn right, it is THEIR console and they can do to it WHATEVER they want. If it breaks the ToS and Sony cuts them off from PSN, thats fine. But that is as FAR as Sony's reach goes. Because a hacker can do WHATEVER they want to THEIR hardware.
"But why didn't they just refrain from updating and keep the otherOS option?" I hear you ask. "Or just buy a second PS3 and keep the old one without updating?" Well, I ask you, why does it have to be that way? Is there any law that says I can't do whatever I please to MY hardware? No? Then I can download the latest firmware if the mood takes me and hack it to get otherOS back. And it is LEGAL. Can Sony revoke my access to PSN? Yup, and I have no problem with that, but again, that is as far as they can go.
Am I allowed to share the way I did it with other people on the net? Sure can, provided that is ALL I'm doing (which is what geohot and that german chap did) I am completely within my rights to do so. Sony can revoke the PSN access of whoever tries it, but just that.
I am not providing tools for pirating. I am not telling anyone how to pirate. This is 100% LEGAL. Remember, we are not discussing ethics here, only legality, which is what lawsuits are based on. If I have never pirated anything for my PS3, never told anyone how to do it or provided the tools to do so, and in fact spoken out against piracy, then I cannot, repeat, CANNOT be held accountable for what other people try to do with my results. Legally mind, ethically that is debatable (maybe), but we aren't discussing that here.
Pirates are a different matter entirely. They are actively breaking the law, and will get sympathy from no one, except other pirates. Can a hacker and pirate overlap? Certainly, I wouldn't be silly enough to state that they are completely mutually exclusive. I can certainly see a hacker/pirate who just wants his custom firmware to get free games. And that IS illegal. And if he shares it online, it is ALSO illegal. No question.
But remember, this is the exception, not the rule. So whenever you feel the urge to burn the hackers at the stake, stop and think for a second. Get your information regarding the issue, look at what he ACTUALLY did. Because if he has in no way actively helped piracy in any way, then you cannot touch him legally. Simple as that. Because he's simply doing whatever he wants to the hardware that he owns. and you cannot sue anyone on those grounds. If you do find an explicit link between him and piracy, then yeah, that changes everything. But until you do, he is innocent, and Sony can't touch him.
This is a pirate:
This is a hacker: