Sony CEO Howard Stringer equates Linux to piracy

At a recent shareholders meeting, Sony CEO Howard Stringer, claimed that the reason Sony was targeted by hackers was because they were protecting their intellectual property.  Stringer’s specific quote to shareholders was, “because we tried to protect our IP (intellectual property), our content, in this case videogames.”

Stringer was referring to the April hacking attack that caused Sony to shutdown the PlayStation Network and keep it offline for weeks.  The attack resulted in the personal data of 70 million accounts being stolen and credit card information potentially being exposed.  Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was also hacked exposing even more user accounts.  In a letter to the Senate, Sony executive Kaz Hirai implied that the hacking collective responsible for the attacks was Anonymous.

This whole sordid affair started when Sony sued George Hotz and Alexander Egorenkov, both of whom were actively working to hack the PS3 to allow users to run their own custom code as well as reinstate the “OtherOS” feature. 

The OtherOS option was originally included with the stock PS3 firmware, allowing consumers to run Linux from their game console. The feature was removed by Sony when the slim model of the system was launched, supposedly due to “security concerns.” The lawsuit against Hotz was eventually settled, under undisclosed terms.

What Stringer is claiming in his statement about Sony protecting their IP, is that running Linux on your PS3 is directly equivalent to pirating software.  This is not only a broad statement but categorically untrue.  Many PS3 users used the OtherOS feature of the PS3 to leverage the device as a powerful computing platform for research purposes.  With Linux installed, the system served as a powerful and affordable computing platform for large scale calculations.  Implying that every system owner who used the OtherOS feature was a software pirate is just wrong.

During this same call, another shareholder asked Stringer to step down from his position so the company could have a fresh start after the hacking nightmare that the company had gone through.  Stringer ignored this call to resign from his position.  The company can likely move forward with Stringer still in his current position, but when he makes broad and untrue statements, he paints a negative picture of not only himself but all of Sony.