Should Customers Have The Right To “Hack” Their Consoles?

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For every video game console, there’s been dozens – no hundreds – of gamers who’ve tried to hack the system. The ability to mod your own device is part of the fun for some avid players who want to be available to install other operating systems, run homebrew (user-produced software that runs on systems not meant to run consumer-created products) or turn their console into the ultimate media station. Rather than discourage the “hacking,” some gaming companies have embraced it. Microsoft charges $99 a year for XNA, a set of tools that aid in game development and management for Xbox 360. The popular Kinect “hacks” have shown other uses for the motion sensor including 3D camera capabilities, and the company that helped create the motion sensor plans to release their program to help others develop their own technology. Sony released an official PS2 Linux kit in 2002 that turned a PS2 into a personal computer.

However, it seems that Sony isn’t happy about the recent efforts to hack into the PS3 system. The company has filed a restraining order against George “Geohot” Hotz, the hacking team fail0verflow (Hector Cantero, Sven Peter, “Bushing,” and “Segher”), and numerous others who have successfully broken into the system, Engadget reports. Check out Geohot’s evidence below. He installs his own program on his console using his program.

With groups like fail0verflow claiming to be vehemently against piracy and saying they only want to hack their PS3 in order to run other operating systems and homebrew according to the BBC, it seems that Sony’s reaction is a little extreme. Though the company hasn’t filed claims of copyright infringement or taken any other legal action, they are stopping potential game developers from creating new technology. It is true that modified PS3 could lead to the proliferation of copied games, but other systems have faced this type of hacking in the past and have survived. Xbox games still remained popular even though it had quite a large homebrew community; even though the PS2 hacks were readily available, people still went out and bought games. Modified gaming systems foster a community for people who enjoy showing off their own programs and offers another way for people to enjoy video games. There’s always a risk when allowing customers do whatever they want with your products, but if they legally bought your property and want to change it to operate other systems and products what’s the harm?

More on TIME.com:

EA Games CEO: PS3 Can Beat Out Xbox

What We’re Looking Forward to in 2011: Video Games

PlayStation Phone Images Leak in China

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