Sony Interactive Entertainment (Sony) is requesting $16,800 in damages from a California man they accuse of selling jailbroken PS4 consoles filled with pirated games. Because the man failed to respond to the accusations, Sony is now asking the court to issue a default judgment for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.
For many years, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) appeared to be an impregnable fortress for pirates.
This slowly began to change during the summer of 2017 and, following the release of a new jailbreak version a year later, the popular console has now fallen prey to pirates large and small.
The outburst of piracy prompted the Japanese company to take a stand. Last October, it filed a lawsuit against a California man, accusing him of selling jailbroken PS4s filled with pirated games.
According to Sony, defendant Eric Scales used the handle “Blackcloak13” to sell the jailbroken PS4s preloaded with dozens of pirated games on eBay. In addition, he also maintained his own website, informing people that they can “stop buying games” and use pirated versions instead.
In the months after Sony filed its complaint at the California federal court not much happened, with the defendant failing to respond. This left the gaming company with few other options than to file for a default judgment.
This is exactly what Sony did last week. In the accompanying memorandum, Sony reiterates its accusations.
“Defendant Eric David Scales advertises and sells ‘jailbroken’ PlayStation®4 video game consoles on eBay. These ‘jailbroken’ PS4 consoles are loaded with pirated copies of PS4 video games. Defendant Scales also advertises on his website that he provides ‘jailbreaking’ services,” it reads.
According to the gaming giant, it’s clear that the defendant infringed the copyrights of dozens of games. However, Sony requests compensation based on violations of the DMCA, due to the defendant circumventing the technical protection measures of the consoles.
Specifically, Sony requests $800 for the two consoles that were sold and another $200 per pirated game, which it sees as separate products that violate the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. With 76 listed games, that brings the total damages to $16,800.
This is a reasonable amount according to the company, which notes that it didn’t include the man’s July 2018 offer on eBay to sell a jailbroken PS4 console with a “170 game collection,” or any of his other offerings. In addition, it’s also far below the statutory maximum damages.
The $16,800 is also warranted since the California man knew that he was breaking the law and failed to show up in court to defend himself, Sony adds.
“This amount is warranted in light of Defendant’s willful infringement and
violations of the DMCA, his refusal to appear in this action, and his acknowledged understanding and intent that his products be used to deprive [Sony] of the opportunity to sell genuine PS4 video games..,” Sony writes.
In addition to the damages, Sony also requests $3,458 in costs and attorney’s fees. If the judgment is granted, this brings the total amount owed to more than $20,000. Sony hopes that the court will issue the judgment. If not, it fears a dangerous precedent.
“[I]f this Court were to decline entry of a default judgment against Defendant Scales, it could set a dangerous precedent, allowing the purveyors of pirated PS4 video games and ‘jailbroken’ PS4 consoles to avoid liability by simply not responding to [Sony’s] claims,” the company concludes.
At the time of writing the defendant’s website is no longer online. The eBay account where the infringing items were previously sold has nothing on offer either.
Here are copies of the proposed default judgment (pdf) and Sony’s full memorandum (pdf), both obtained by TorrentFreak.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.