It has been a while since we’ve reported on the happening in the case between Sony and infamous hacker George “GeoHot” Hotz but a new development has definitely caught our attention. Hotz has apparently fled the country according to Sony after a court order to have the hard drives he owned seized and has put his case in further jeopardy by appearing to have lied about not ever creating a PSN account.
In court documents (PDF) filed by Sony, it was revealed that:
after Magistrate Judge Spero ordered an inspection of Hotz’s devices and ordered Hotz to appear at a deposition in California, SCEA learned that Hotz had deliberately removed integral components of his impounded hard drives prior to delivering them to a third party neutral and that Hotz is now in South America, an excuse for why he will not immediately provide the components of his hard drives as requested by the neutral. Hotz’s attempts to dodge this Court’s authority raise very serious questions.
When SCEA echoed TIG’s request that the components of the hard drives be delivered immediately, Hotz’s counsel responded that Hotz was in South America.
On January 12, 2011, Hotz submitted a declaration to the Court (Docket No. 19-1) in which he made unequivocal statements on a number of topics. However, when it came to discussing the PSN account, Hotz equivocated, stating: “To the best of my knowledge and belief, I do not have a PlayStation Network account.” Hotz also provided interrogatory responses that he has refused to verify, stating that he has not accessed the PSN. Bricker Decl. ¶4.Hotz identified four PS3 Systems in his possession. Bricker Decl., ¶4, Exh. C. He explained that he had purchased one of these consoles new in February 2010 and provided the serial number for that console. Id. SCEA used that serial number to determine that on February 25, 2010, Hotz purchased the PS3 System at a Gamestop store just miles from his home. Law Decl., ¶6; Bricker Decl., ¶6, Exh. E. SCEA’s records show that the same PS3 System was used on March 10, 2010 to create a PSN account under the user name “blickmanic.” Law Decl., ¶6, Exh. A. The IP address associated with the registration is located in Glen Rock, New Jersey, where Hotz lives.
Hotz’s ownership of the “blickmanic” account is further supported by the fact that an Internet search of the user name “blickmanic” reveals a posting discussing the jailbreaking of cellular phones – Hotz’s original “claim to fame.” Bricker Decl., ¶7, Exh. F (“Just curious what people would pay for exclusive rights to this solution. [Motorola] Tracfone W175g unlocked and debranded. PM me.”) As discussed above, to create his PSN account, Hotz was required to first agree to the terms of the PSN User Agreement and thus he is clearly subject to personal jurisdiction in California. It is well established that a valid and enforceable forum selection clause operates as consent to personal jurisdiction in a designated forum.
Update: Hotz fires back at Sony accusations.