Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Apr 2011 22:17 UTC
Legal Well, it seems like Sony vs. George Hotz has ended pretty much without a bang. Sony announced on its Playstation blog that the two parties have settled the case. Under the settlement, Hotz agrees to a permanent injunction fo his jailbreaking hack, but admits to no wrong-doing. A wise and, dare I say it, mature end to the lawsuit.
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RE: civil lawsuits can destroy your life
by gregorlowski on Tue 12th Apr 2011 13:36 UTC in reply to "My take"
gregorlowski
Member since:
2006-03-20

I haven't commented on osnews for years, but I had to bite in response to this:

If you trivialize the potential severity of a civil lawsuit then you are misunderstanding the positions of individual people and corporations in western market economies today. I'm in the USA, but I'll put forth a European example for you -- Jérôme Kerviel. It's a somewhat incongruous example because Kerviel was found guilty of a crime and forced to pay restitution to Societe Generale as a result -- to the sum of about 5 billion euros (and he got effectively 3 years in prison). However, courts can award both compensatory and punitive damages in civil cases. To use an American example, consider the OJ Simpson trials. The dude was found innocent of crimes but then lost a subsequent wrongful-death civil trial with a judgement of $38 million in damages.

In Europe, as in the USA, most people spend most of their lives working for money. You need money to survive in our societies. When you work, you are trading your time for money. Well, what then is the implication of being forced to pay millions or billions of dollars to a corporation? For most people, it is comparable to a life sentence in prison. If you earn any money, the courts can garnish a cut of any wages that you earn to put toward civil legal claims.

My sister (a lawyer) used to work for a firm that processed debt claim lawsuits. Some of the claims were large (housing-loan foreclosures) but some were small (person defaulted on a used-car loan). The courts would garnish maybe as little as $100/month from someone who is living at the poverty level and has to feed a family. It's no Dickensian debtor's prison, but how much better is it? Maybe it's not hell but it's purgatory. You have to work to eat and feed your family, but anything you earn above the poverty level is taken away from you by the state -- possibly for life.

So say a multi-billion dollar international company is suing you and you could possibly face a judgement of millions of dollars in compensatory and possibly punitive damages. Go ahead, call Geohotz a pussy or a wanker, but I know what I'd do if I were in his position and had the option to settle the case permanently and ensure that I won't spend the next 50 years paying out any money that I earn, above what it costs to buy a few loaves of bread each week and live in a poorly maintained rental unit 100 miles from an urban center, to a megacorporation.

For Kerviel, what's worse -- 3 years in the can or paying back 5 billion Euros? Societe Generale has put forth public statements that they won't go after the money, but they *CAN*. The reality of that can basically destroy someone's life.

Geohotz should pay back any donation money leftover after he pays his legal fees. If he doesn't, he's a wanker. But he has absolutely no moral obligation to face a lifetime paying back legal claims to become a free-speech martyr.

Edited 2011-04-12 13:46 UTC

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