PSGroove PS3 'modchip' open-sourced

Sony's efforts to prevent the sale of USB-based modchips for its popular PlayStation 3 console have come to naught, with the code behind the devices being released under an open-source licence.

According to PS3 fan site PS3 News, the exploit that formed the basis of commercial USB-based modchips - which, when inserted into a PS3 console, allow the playing of unsigned code - has now been released under the GNU General Public Licence, freeing developers the world over to work on porting it to different USB-based devices.

It's a major blow for Sony - the code, released under the name PSGroove, allows the digital rights management system built in to the PS3 to be bypassed, meaning the console will run code that hasn't been endorsed by Sony.

While that opens the gate for homebrew hackers to develop their own home-made applications for the console, it also paves the way for a simple method to play pirated PS3 games on an otherwise unmodified console.

Although the code available for download from the PSGroove Git repository doesn't allow pirated, or euphemistically-titled 'backup,' games to run, there are already patches available - which we won't link to - that re-enable support for the feature - and indications that many who are using the hack are choosing to do so for the purposes of piracy.

Developers are already porting the code to a variety of devices, including smartphones, which can be used in place of the complicated circuitry that formed the basis of the commercial version of the modchip.

Although Sony's latest firmware for the PS3, version 3.50, quietly removed support for unauthorised USB devices - which prevents the PSGroove jailbreak from working - the developers are working on a fix, and for now the solution is to simply stay on an older firmware if you want PSGroove support.

With Sony's carefully-constructed DRM protections - the mission to protect which saw the removal of the Other OS feature from the PS3 - seemingly defeated, the company could be facing a noticeable drop in profits from its videogames division.