This is a real conversation that happened between me and a friend recently (names are made up, but the email exchange is real):
me: Hey Jim, didn’t you have a PS3 you wanted to get rid of? I’m interested if you haven’t given it away already. I’d need it for a few tests.
Jim: I actually promised it to Bob, what do you want to do with it? Are you going to destroy it?
me: No, I just want to run custom stuff on it. Mine is on 4.11, so I can’t hack it, but I seem to remember you haven’t touched yours in years, so if I’m lucky it’s in 3.55 or below. Do you know what firmware is running on it?
Jim: Hey, for the playstation, forget about it, dude! I don’t want any trouble the day Sony gets access to all your email in court. I’ll give it to Bob, and he will use it for games! Otherwise, I’ll just throw it away, and please, don’t email me anymore on that subject.
My friend Jim is a software engineer, the kind that uses Linux on a regular basis, who understands open source, etc… not a hacker, but not your typical brainless gamer either. And yet, last year’s event between Geohot and Sony had such a strong impact on people like him (people who are vaguely aware of hacking news, as soon as they make it to mainstream media) that he simply refused to even discuss about giving away his console for hacking purposes. Let me emphasize that I’ve known the guy for years. I am shocked that he thinks I am planning to do anything that would be remotely illegal.
I am sure this is the type of result that Sony’s lawyers are expecting when they go after a guy like Geohot. Months after the event, people don’t remember who was right, who was wrong, what were the fundamental reasons behind the legal action. No, the only thing people remember is that if you try to tinker with a Sony device, you get into massive legal trouble, even if what you planned to do was perfectly legal.
Slowly but surely, companies like Sony are changing the rules of ownership, making it sounds more and more normal that you are not buying hardware, you just rent it, independently of what the law has to say about it. To a point where even your friends point fingers at you the day you are doing something that is outside of the boundaries unilaterally put in place by the manufacturer, even when you are in your own right.
Oh, and before you ask, no, I am not on my way to hack the PS3, I just want to catch up and be less clueless on the subject But oh well, my only good lead is gone now.