No, the Sony Server Hack DID NOT Reveal that Sony was Pirating eBooks About Hacking
That archive has proven to be a treasure trove of insider secrets like the fact that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood was and is a puppet of the MPAA, and The Daily Dot would have you believe that the archive also revealed that Sony was a pirate.
Unfortunately, the evidence presented so far doesn’t support that claim. I took a few hours this evening to confirm the report, and I reached an entirely different conclusion.
While I can confirm that the ebooks were and are available in the archive, I cannot say with any certainty that they were pirated.
The books in question, Inside Cyber Warfare and Hacking the Next Generation, were published by O’Reilly Media. As anyone who buys programming books can tell you, O’Reilly sells its books in multiple formats – without DRM.
You can indeed buy these ebooks as PDFs, which means that before we accuse Sony of piracy we first have to make sure that these ebooks were actually pirated and not legally purchased.
Sony did have copies of Inside Cyber Warfare and Hacking the Next Generation on its servers. Both books were posted as PDF and as text files, yes, but certain details suggest that the ebooks might have been legally purchased.
For example, the PDFs look nothing like the versions hosted by Safari Books Online (the text, formatting, and organization is different), nor do they look like they were scanned from the original paper copy.
Instead, the two PDFs look like they were sold as PDFs. What’s more, one of the supposedly pirated titles looks like the copy I just bought.
For the sake of thoroughness, I went to the O’Reilly website and tried to buy Inside Cyber Warfare and Hacking the Next Generation. I bought Hacking, but passed on Carr’s Inside Cyber Warfare because Sony’s copy was the first edition, and I could only buy the second edition.
After an hour of eyeballing the two versions of Hacking, I can’t find any evidence that would show that Sony’s copy was any less legal than my copy. Sony’s copy was slightly larger (7MB vs 6.47MB) and had not been modified since it was produced in 2009. My copy had been modified in 2013.
I can’t tell you why the file sizes are different ( I don’t have access to a comparison tool which would work on PDFs) or exactly how they differ but I don’t think that is a critical issue.
What I can report is that there is insufficient evidence to prove that Sony pirated these two ebooks. For all I know someone at Sony legitimately bought its copies before uploading them to its servers.
One could argue that Sony is pirating the ebook simply by hosting a copy of the ebook, but I would remind you that O’Reilly also does corporate sales. There’s no way for us to determine, based on the evidence so far, that Sony did not buy the correct license from O’Reilly.
Folks, you are welcome to reach whatever conclusion you like, but I remain unconvinced that Sony pirated these PDFs.
I plan to go dig through the archive tomorrow and look for other pirated ebooks, but at this point I don’t know that I will find anything which I will be able to prove was pirated and not acquired legitimately. Stay tuned.
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