PS3 Jailbreak Raid in South Africa

PlayStation 3 jailbreak raidOn Tuesday, August 2nd, a residential property in Parktown, South Africa was raided and $14,000 (R100,000) worth of computers, PS3s, hard drives, jailbreak software and USB kits, along with fake PS2 games and original PS3 games were confiscated, according to Games Industry (registration required) and Joystiq. One suspect was arrested by the Commercial Crime Unit of the South African Police Service after receiving complaints from the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT). The suspect was in custody but trying to make bail. He is expected in court on September 29.

Press release below, courtesy of South African site EGamer:

PRESS RELEASE – PS3 JAILBREAK RAID AND ARREST

South Africa, 2ND August 2011, Johannesburg: The first Playstation 3 jailbreak raid took place earlier today at a residential property in Parktown, Johannesburg. Jailbreak devices are used to circumvent the security features on PS3 consoles to facilitate the playing of pirated PS3 games.

The raid was conducted by the South African Police Service’s Commercial Crime Unit, Johannesburg after receiving criminal complaints from the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft (SAFACT). The Police were assisted by the SARS Computer Forensics Lab.

Various state of the art computers, circumvention software packages, jailbreak USB devices, PS3 consoles and hard drives were seized. In addition fake PS2 games, original PS3 games, believed to be used as masters and documentation were seized.

One suspect had been arrested and he will remain in custody until the court appearance for bail in the Specialized Commercial Crimes Court in the next couple of days. It is the first PS3 circumvention arrest in the world.


Analysis: This is more of a piracy arrest than a jailbreaking arrest. Jailbreaking is cracking a system, like an iPhone, so that it can run third-party software. Piracy is when you’re copying software. Both are unauthorized, but only one is illegal (at least in the United States): the kind that got this man arrested. Looking on the SAFACT website and their FAQ, it seems they’re only really concerned about piracy as well.

Surely they have a right to be concerned. According to the latest research by Business Software Alliance, piracy levels are at about 35% in South Africa totaling up to an estimated $513 million lost annually. Oddly enough, 61.2% of people polled believe intellectual property creates jobs and improves the economy. Compare that to the United States, which has a piracy rate of 20% totaling up to an estimated $9.5 billion lost and where 62.6% believe intellectual property creates jobs and improves the economy.

They also claim this is the first PS3 jailbreak raid. Perhaps they meant in South Africa, but I don’t believe this is the first one worldwide. One only needs to be reminded the George “GeoHot” Hotz case where the IP addresses of the people who visited GeoHot’s blog were confiscated, or when his friend, graf_chokolo, had his house raided by German police in February to know otherwise.

I have no problem with jailbreaking. It’s your product; you do what you want with it. If you want your PS3 to be able to run Linux, fine by me. If the guy was emulating or hacking a ROM, I have very little problem with that, either. That’s on an individual level and the individual involved takes up the risk for that. But this guy’s intention seemed to be focused on profit. Why else would you  have multiple PS3 consoles and hard drives?

It’s intellectually hypocritical to want innovative games and refuse to pay for them. You can’t ask for more games for systems and try to profit off of them by selling copies of them to others. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that.

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