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Judge OKs PaypPal Subpoenas in GeoHot Lawsuit

Federal magistrate Joseph Spero has given permission for Sony to subpoena electronic payment provider PayPal as part of the consumer electronic’s lawsuit against George Hotz, the hacker who published the PlayStation 3 jailbreak program. The subpoena would cover all transactions made over PayPal between January 1, 2009 and February 1, 2011.

Sony is hoping that the information in Hotz’s PayPal account will show that he accepted money from northern California residents. Were they to find any, it would bolster their claim that the trial should be held in San Francisco and not Hotz’s home state of New Jersey. Readers will recall that this was the same intent behind Sony’s early subpoenas aimed at Google, Twitter, and the hosting service for Hotz’s website. Many internet privacy advocates have already registered their concerns about Sony’s subpoena of social networking services.

Of course, simply finding transactions will not be enough. Sony will have to prove that Hotz accepted money for his jailbreaking tool, a claim that Hotz denies.

Hotz faces charges under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the federal law which prohibits, among other things, posting tools that subvert copyright protection. The tool Hotz created gave PS3 users complete control over their systems, allowing them to do everything from playing pirated games to installing alternative operating systems.

This is only the latests salvo in the ongoing lawsuit, and surely not the last. Remember: The trial hasn’t even started yet. The real fun is yet to come.

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