Sony CEO blurs line between Linux and piracy at shareholders' meeting

Ignoring a call for his resignation at Sony's latest shareholder meeting, CEO Howard Stringer blurred the line between installing Linux on the PlayStation 3 and pirating software.
Written by Peter Cohen, Inactive

Sony CEO Howard Stringer told shareholders that his company was the target of hacker attacks in April "because we tried to protect our IP (intellectual property), our content, in this case videogames."

In April Sony was forced to take its PlayStation Network (PSN) offline for several weeks after hackers broke in and stole information from more than 70 million user accounts, finally relaunching it in May. A similar attack also affected Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) servers, which control Sony's online role-playing games. Combined, more than 100 million user accounts were affected.

The hacker or hackers responsible for the security failure have not yet been named, though Sony Computer Entertainment America boss Kazuo Hirai - Stringer's presumptive successor - implicated the hacker collective "Anonymous" in a letter delivered to a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

"Anonymous" targeted Sony earlier this year after Sony proceeded in court against George "GeoHot" Hotz, a programmer who attempted to enable the PlayStation 3 to run the Linux operating system.

The ability to run Linux was originally supported by the PlayStation 3 using an "OtherOS" function built into the console. In fact, Sony's early marketing for the PlayStation 3 actively promoted the capability to install and run Linux. Sony removed the capability from the original PlayStation 3 in a mandatory firmware update when its "slimline" model debuted, even after promising the feature would remain. The company claimed "security concerns" were the cause for the change.

Sony ultimately dropped its suit againt Hotz. And earlier this week, it was reported that Hotz has been hired by Facebook.

Now, with Stringer's comments, Sony's trying to blur the line between installing Linux on the PS3 and pirating software. There's little question that some PS3 owners used exploits exposed in the OtherOS function to run pirated software, but Stringer's comment casts a wide net that unfairly implicates many PS3 owners who simply wanted to run another operating system on their consoles.

Stringer ignored a shareholder call for his resignation during the meeting.

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