South African police arrest man for selling jailbroken PS3s

This is the first criminal prosecution of a seller of PlayStation 3 jailbreak technology

South African police have arrested a 28-year-old Johannesburg man accused of selling jailbroken Sony PlayStation 3 machines and pirated game software.

Naseem Ebrahim Motala was charged last week with violating South Africa's Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, following an Aug. 2 raid on his home in suburban Johannesburg, according to Jacques Botha, a director with the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT), which investigated the case on behalf of Sony. "We have a mandate to act on behalf of Sony in South Africa," Botha said. "They fully support us."

According to Botha, Motala offered to jailbreak and install free games on PlayStation 3 consoles for R500 (US$69), advertising the services online and in ads in local newspapers. "He operated from a very good middle-class apartment in Johannesburg," he said. "He was doing quite well."

This is the first time anyone, anywhere has been prosecuted for circumventing the copy protection system of the PlayStation 3, according to Botha. But it's unlikely to be the last. His organization is working with police to prosecute other distributors of PlayStation 3 jailbreak technology. "We have some other cases that we are expecting to execute very soon," he said.

Although it is illegal to use jailbreaking software in South Africa, SAFACT is bringing cases to authorities only against people who distribute the software.

Muddying things is the fact that a jailbroken PlayStation 3 can also be used to run legitimate software that would otherwise be blocked on Sony's gaming platform, such as the Linux operating system. That's what Sony hacker George Hotz figured out how to do before Sony filed a civil lawsuit against him in the U.S., forcing him to stop distributing, and even discussing his work.

Because the Hotz case involved legitimate uses of the PlayStation 3, it isn't really comparable to the South Africa case, said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"At the end of the day, what Sony was really after was to shut down any efforts to engage in security research with its computers," she said. "We want a world in which people were able to tinker with their machines... I think Sony was sending a very strong message: You do that and we will take you to court."

Motola is free on R10,000 bail. He is set to appear in court on Sept. 29. If convicted, he faces five years in prison.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalgamesPS3CriminalGame platforms

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?