Your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 will only play games and run apps Sony has signed off on. If you stick an unauthorized game disc into your PlayStation, it simply won’t work. Sony spends a lot of time and money ensuring its PlayStation platform is secure and that you can only use approved software.
But what if you wanted to run your own code on a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5? This process is known as jailbreaking, and it could allow you to run your PlayStation outside of Sony’s Terms & Conditions.
But if Sony goes to such lengths to protect their hardware, is it legal to jailbreak your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5?
Is It Legal to Jailbreak a PS4 or PS5?
Jailbreaking is the process of reverse engineering hardware to enable access to previously hidden settings, run unsigned code, use homebrew apps and games, and help developers create emulators for the device.
However, jailbreaking isn’t easy and relies on hackers finding software exploits that they can use to access settings and make tweaks outside the manufacturer’s design.
With that in mind, the first question regards the legality of jailbreaking a PS4 or PS5: where do you stand?
Well, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act says that you can legally jailbreak almost any device you own. If you own the device, you can tinker and find exploits, run code and homebrew games, and more, all without issue.
But just because the process of exploiting and jailbreaking your PS4 or PS5 is legal doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences. Sony spends a great deal of time, money, and effort protecting its hardware and ensuring that it controls the code that will run on its devices.
Can You Play Pirated Games on a Jailbroken PS4 or PS5?
Now, although tinking with and finding jailbreak exploits on your PS4 or PS5 is legal, some of what happens afterwards definitely is not. One of the reasons that people want to jailbreak their PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 is the lure of “free” games, downloaded and burnt to disc or even just copied to the device hard drive and ran from there.
The moment you download and attempt to play a pirated game on your PS4 or PS5, you’re breaking the law. There isn’t really much of a gray area here, either. Pirating PS4 and PS5 games is illegal, no matter what spin you put on it.
While the DMCA protects your right to find PS4 and PS5 exploits, it doesn’t allow you to steal content or games and run them on a jailbroken platform.
The Consequences of Jailbreaking Your PS4 or PS5
Downloading and playing pirated games on your PS4 or PS5 is illegal. But there are other consequences to jailbreaking your PlayStation that you should take into account.
PlayStation Network Ban
For one, Sony may well ban your PlayStation Network (PSN) account. You wouldn’t be able to play a pirated game online with your jailbroken PlayStation anyway, but Sony is likely to bar your entire account from the network if it is connected to a PS4 or PS5 jailbreak. Sony cannot take the chance that an account is running or will attempt to use an exploit during gameplay, and it is easy to ban a PlayStation user for suspicious behavior or activity on their device.
Broken PlayStation EULA, No PlayStation Warranty
Second, although a PS4 or PS5 jailbreak is legal in terms of the law, that doesn’t mean that Sony (or other manufacturers, for that matter) will continue to recognize your warranty. The PlayStation 5 EULA has a fairly extensive (yet also fairly standardized) section on PlayStation 5 Restrictions, covering everything you might expect.
You may not lease, rent, sublicense, publish, modify, patch, adapt or translate System Software. You may not reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble System Software, create System Software derivative works, or attempt to create System Software source code from its object code. You may not (i) use any unauthorized, illegal, counterfeit or modified hardware or software with System Software; (ii) use tools to bypass, disable or circumvent any PS5 system encryption, security or authentication mechanism
It carries on in this vein, making it clear that “restrictions will be construed to apply to the greatest extent permitted by the law in your jurisdiction.” In short, muck around with the PlayStation 5, and Sony will come calling. There is a similar warning if Sony determines that you have violated its EULA.
SIE Inc may itself or may procure the taking of any action to protect its interests such as disabling access to or use of some or all System Software, disabling use of this PS5 system online or offline, termination of your access to PlayStation™Network, denial of any warranty, repair or other services provided for your PS5 system
Locked to Old Firmware, Miss Out on New Features
Another issue you may face is the loss of other features. For example, PlayStation 4 jailbreaking only works with certain firmware versions. At the time of writing, the latest PlayStation 4 firmware is 9.00, but PS4 jailbreaking only works with older firmware versions. If you decide to jailbreak your PS4, you’ll be stuck on the older and potentially insecure firmware. When new features roll out to newer firmware versions, you won’t be able to download and use them.
Brick Your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5
The final issue is that you might irrevocably damage your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 in the process. Wanting to jailbreak your PS5 or PS4 is one thing, but blindly following a jailbreaking tutorial is another. And, as you’ve just read in the PS5 EULA, modifying the console is likely to result in the loss of warranty. If you brick your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 during a jailbreak attempt, Sony won’t be picking up the pieces. Your insurance company is unlikely to look favorably on your activities, either.
You Can Jailbreak a PS4 or PS5 if You Want To
The other thing to consider is that you might unintentionally break the law while attempting to jailbreak your PS4 or PS5. Unfortunately, figuring out where one law ends and the other begins is difficult for the layman, and you’re unlikely to have a team of lawyers backing you up if you did cross that boundary.
Not that we’re trying to stop anyone from jailbreaking their PlayStation. Tinkering, hacking, and uncovering exploits is vital to technology. Big companies like Sony miss massive exploits in their platforms all of the time. Many of the people looking for jailbreak opportunities are also involved in the world of security. They often report their findings to the company beforehand so that “black hat” hackers cannot exploit holes for personal gain.
Just be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when you begin jailbreaking your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5.
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About The Author
(990 Articles Published)
Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, a regular contributor to the Really Useful Podcast, and a regular product reviewer. He has a BA (Hons) Contemporary Writing with Digital Art Practices pillaged from the hills of Devon, as well as over a decade of professional writing experience. He enjoys copious amounts of tea, board games, and football.