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Hotz not beholden by SCEA's terms, claim lawyers

Lawyers working for George Hotz, the hacker who brought Sony's PlayStation 3 digital rights management system to its knees, have rubbished the company's claims in the ongoing lawsuit - and made the claim that the wrong arm of Sony is bringing the case.

In papers obtained and analysed by Groklaw, the lawyers argue that Sony Computer Entertainment America - the company that has brought the case against Hotz and which is currently arguing to have the hearings held in California - has no case against Hotz, who has been using or abusing a product of Sony Japan.

"When one purchases a Playstation Computer and looks at its outer box, it has plastered on numerous places that it is a product of Sony Japan and all rights belong to Sony Japan," the filing points out. "It only references Sony Japan - not SCEA. When one takes the Playstation Computer out of its box and inspects it, it states it is a product of Sony Japan and all rights belong to Sony Japan. It does not reference California. When one installs the Playstation Computer firmware update that Mr. Hotz allegedly circumvented, which can legally be obtained through the internet as Mr. Hotz did, upon installation, it only refers to Sony Japan."

In earlier filings, Sony's lawyers have argued that Hotz is bound by the terms and conditions of Sony Computer Entertainment America due to the creation of a PlayStation Network account - evidence for which the company claimed to have provided to the court. The defence, however, argues that Hotz has done no such thing.

"Now, SCEA claims that Mr. Hotz must have created a PSN account for the name 'blickmaniac' because the serial number of one of the Playstation Computers that Mr. Hotz purchased [...] was used to register a PSN account. The serial number utilized by SCEA, however, is different from the serial number proffered by Mr. Hotz's attorney."

This, Hotz's team claims, indicates that 'blickmaniac' is a third party - and further strengthens the claims that Hotz has never created a PSN account, and thus has never agreed to the terms and conditions imposed by Sony Computer Entertainment America that he now stands accused of violating.

While the documentation provided with PlayStation 3 consoles sold in America includes a licence for use that does reference SCEA, Hotz claims to have never opened the sealed package containing the licence - and thus cannot have agreed to its terms. As evidence, his lawyers have the still sealed documentation ready to present as evidence to the court.

What could prove to be the final name in Sony's coffin, however, is a bit of legal flim-flam that is likely to rub the judge up the wrong way: a document that Sony claims Hotz agreed to when creating an account that, by its own admission, post-dates the alleged account's creation. "It is also worth noting that SCEA has failed to proffer any PSN TOS that could be applicable to Mr. Hotz, even assuming everything SCEA has said is true, because the PSN TOS SCEA has proffered was created after Mr. Hotz purportedly created a PSN account," the filings point out.

The judge is still to rule on whether to allow Sony to force Hotz to trek to California to defend himself.