PS3 hack ban upheld by court as free version released

Image caption,
A similar lawsuit has now been filed also in the US

Sony's battle to block the distribution of a hack for its PlayStation 3 (PS3) has been won in an Australian court but lost on the internet.

The court ruled on Friday that a ban on distribution of the PSJailbreak "dongle", first issued on 27 August, would be made permanent.

However, on Thursday the software code behind a similar hack was released free on the internet as PSGroove.

The hacks allow homemade games to be played on the console.

While the PSGroove software was specifically designed not to allow the playing of pirated games, as PSJailbreak does, it has already been modified by other hackers to permit the practice.

Also on Friday, it emerged that Sony had filed a US lawsuit against Zoomba, the firm that runs, a site selling the device.

The lawsuits specifically name the PSJailbreak device - software loaded onto a USB data stick - but reports have surfaced that the device has been replicated and could soon be widely available through other vendors.

The Australia ban prevents resellers OzModChips, ModSupplier and Quantronics from importing or distributing the device in Australia, and names the supplier as Chinese firm China Sun Trading Limited.

The court order demands that the distributors hand over any stocks of the dongles, China Sun Trading to send any ordered dongles to the court, and calls for as-yet undetermined damages to be paid to Sony.

OzModChips posted an apologetic message to its Twitter account on Friday, saying "Sorry 4 the lack of updates, its been a long day. Bassically the injunction still stands but its not 100% over yet. Not allowed to say more."

The BBC has learned that distributors in the Netherlands have received substantially similar court documents banning the sale of the dongles.

Choice and innovation

However, the court's action was pre-empted when another group of hackers decided to develop and release PSGroove, the code behind the hack, on the internet.

Mathieu Hervais told BBC News he was one of about 20 hackers involved in PSGroove's development.

"We want people to run the software they like on the system they paid for without it having to be licensed by Sony," he said.

"We released it on the internet because we believe in openness, choice and innovation from everyone.

"We understand (games console makers') point of view as well when it comes to protecting their income or business models, we just believe compromises could be made to keep everyone happy."

Sony declined to comment on the court cases or the release of the open-source code.

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