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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?