In addtition to protecting online privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is also committed to preserving freedom of speech on the Internet. So when Sony filed suit against researchers who found and published details about security gaps in the company's PlayStation 3 that allow users to run Linux on their machines despite Sony's efforts to prevent that, the EFF was quick to speak out about it.
But let me back up a bit. Sony filed suit under the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and asked the court to impound everything used to circumvent Sony's technology-including the researchers' computers as well as their actual research. But as the EFF's Corynne McSherry and Marcia Hofmann note, the results of the research were published online, so in essence, the only people who will be denied access thereto will be the researchers.
And since it's impossible to "put the cat back in the bag," the writers say, the only motive Sony can have is to scare researchers away from publishing results of similar research in the future. And that, they say, is unacceptable.
What's more, Sony is also alleging criminal violations under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. From the EFF:
The basic gist of Sony's argument is that the researchers accessed their own PlayStation 3 consoles in a way that violated the agreement that Sony imposes on users of its network (and supposedly enabled others to do the same). But the researchers don't seem to have used Sony's network in their research - they just used the consoles they bought with their own money.
The writers say Sony's argument won't fly-especially in light of cases like U.S. v. Drew and Facebook v. Power Ventures, in which courts held that it is not a crime to violate a company's user agreement. A breach of contract, sure. But not a crime.