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US prof taunts Sony lawyers over Geohot PS3 hack

A US professor of computer science is prodding electronics giant Sony with the stupid stick by hosting a copy of the PS3's private key on his univeristy's web servers.

Professor David S Touretzky, who specialises in robotics and has been known to try to replicate the spacial awareness of rats in his spare time, has poked his head above the parapet as Sony's lumbering legal team grinds into action in an attempt to stop people spilling its secrets.

The whole sorry mess started when hacking crew fail0verflow discovered that Sony had left the private key to the PlayStation 3's innermost secrets under the metaphorical door mat (opens in new tab).

Infamous iPhone fiddler George 'Geohot' Hotz grabbed a copy of the key and passed it on to the world and its Wi-fi (opens in new tab).

Sony desperately tried to shove the genie, and the bolting horse it rode in on, back into the bottle and the stable respectively by insisting it could fix the problem with a fimware update (opens in new tab).

Just days later, and probably having read all of the counter-claims by hackers that Sony couldn't fix the problem with a firmware update no matter how hard it tried, the Japanese media and electronics behemoth watched in horror as news of the first game hacked using Gehot's finagled firmware (opens in new tab) hoved into view.

Looking for a new angle of attack, Sony then decided to sue everyone involved including the aforementioned Mr Hotz as well as fail0verflow members Hector Martin Cantero and Sven Peter.

The list of charges, which is laughably long, inventive and optimistic to say the least, includes:

Violating article 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; violating the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; contributing to copyright infringement by encouraging and helping others; violating the California Computer Crime Law; violating the PlayStation Network's Terms of Service; Interfering with Sony's relationships with other PSN customers; Trespassing on Sony's ownership right to the PS3; and last but not least, misappropriating Sony's intellectual property.

Professor Touretzky (gotta love that name) has decided to make a stand against Sony's heavy-handed legal barrage by becoming the first of what we predict will be many individuals and organisations providing a mirror of the information Sony wants hushed up (opens in new tab) by hosting a mirror the private key file, and instructions on how to use it.

"Our friends at Sony are having another bad day: doing something breathtakingly stupid, presumably because they don't know any better." he writes. "This time they're suing George Hotz for publishing PS3 jailbreak information. Hotz's jailbreak allows PS3 owners to run the software of their choice on a machine they have legally purchased."

Both Hotz and the fail0verflow have always maintained that they have no interest in commercial software piracy, and have provided the information primarily to allow legitimate users to reinstate the 'Install Other OS' functionality (opens in new tab) yanked from the popular gaming console last year.

"Free speech (and free computing) rights exist only for those determined to exercise them," says Touretzky. "Trying to suppress those rights in the Internet age is like spitting in the wind. [I] will help our friends at Sony understand this by mirroring the Geohot jailbreak files at Carnegie Mellon." monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.