Category — Piracy Cases
Five Hundred Mexican police officers raided four Mexican video game piracy operations in the Tepito area of Mexico City (the center of the local black market) netting some 28,000 pirated game copies, 290 DVD/CD burners and 900,000 game covers.
Categories: Piracy Cases
Here’s a countervailing opinion on end-user game copying/piracy. It’s not a new argument. Essentially it goes, but for piracy as a kid, I wouldn’t be a loyal purchaser of your products today.
As part of an investigation that started last August, the RCMP have seized about one-thousand counterfeit “Magic Mega Game Plug and Play” video game systems from three Ottawa-area malls. The consoles were sold for about $60 and features over 150 copyright-infringing Nintendo games among others. No charges have been laid – yet.
The FBI has shut down an illegal game operation that allegedly provided subscribers with fraudulent service to, and code for, Lineage II. Apparently L2Extreme.com (now seized by the FYI) had some 50,000 active users. NCSoft says it lost millions in revenue from this. The operators of L2Extreme.com face a fine of $250,000 and up to five years in jail. NCSoft has said it has no plans to pursue the users.
This case is different from the Blizzard v. BNetD case because in the BNetD circumstance, they had reverse engineered the Blizzard server software and, presumably, wrote emulating software in a “clean room” without access to the original Blizzard server software – thus no direct copyright infringement. In the L2Extreme case, it is alleged that the L2Extreme.com server software was pirated (ie: copied) NCSoft server software.
On September 11, 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken assessed more than $9 million in penalties against France-based mod-chip maker Divineo for trafficking in mod chips and the associated HDLoader software. HDLoader allows users to copy their games from CD/DVD disks to their hard drive. Despite legitimate use by legions of honest gamers, this mod-chip/software bundle works by circumventing copy protection measures contained on the game CD/DVD and thereby contravenes the controversial DMCA.
Dale’s Comment: Mod-chips and software like HDLoader is hated by game developers/publishers because they are commonly used to distribute pirated video games on PS2 consoles. For honest gamers, they are a terrific way to install all purchased games on a hard drive so that they can be quickly and conveniently served up like records in a jukebox. Without it gamers must manually flip game disks each time they want to change the current game.
A man was arrested and police Seized twenty duplicating machines and 5,000 master discs were seized from the man’s premises in Lowestoft, Suffolk UK.
After serving a 12 month jail sentence for PS2 and XBox game related piracy and counterfeiting offenses, 46 year old Merseyside England woman Susan Roach has had $474,000 in assets seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
An ex-couple, Andrew King (53) and Angela Susan Jones (42), were ordered by a Liverpool court to pay $4378K and $835K respectively within six months or serve 21 months/six years in jail. If they fail to pay by the deadline and serve the jail sentence, they will still have to pay the outstanding balance.
According to the ESA, the Mounties seized thousands of pirated games in Markham, Ontario’s Pacific Mall. One person was arrested. Stores in the same mall had previously been raided in April of 2005, but piracy continued there regardless.
In what would certainly be good news for purchasers of the low-end PS3 (which will not have HDMI outputs), the leading German newspaper Der Spiegel claims to have information on an unofficial agreement struck between the movie studios, Sony, Microsoft and others which will see HDCP, and the Image Constraint Token (ICT), being consigned to the scrap heap for at least four years. This move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the ICT – a security feature which restricts/down-rez’s high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.
Dale’s Comment: This is a remarkable development if true. I have been participating in online forums for years where this has been a major subject of contention for early HDTV adopters. With the constant delays of HD-DVD and Blu-ray and the many competing HD standards appearing on the horizon, this may spell the demise of HD down-rezzing and the ICT. Recently, Professor Ed Felton suggested that HDCP is Eminently Crackable. All this said, since main-stream press has not yet picked this up, I question its veracity. But, its fun speculation in the meantime.Update: October 15 2006: Save for one or two titles, the first couple hundred Blu-Ray and HD-DVD releases have been released without HDCP/ICT activated.
- HDCP is Eminently Crackable Says Professor Ed Felton (April 17, 2006)
- Windows Vista Proofed against Video Piracy (August 31, 2005)
Authorities in Malaysia have revealed that they have seized 1.5 million pirated game and film DVDs and CDs worth an estimated 51.3 million ringgit ($14m) in raids so far this year. Almost half of these were meant for export, showing that video game piracy of physical discs is still a major issue in many regions.
Amidst growing complaints of potentially harmful security breaches and the recent filing of a class action lawsuit, French publisher Ubisoft has officially ceased its use of Starforce copy protection.
Twenty-nine individuals were arrested in the North of England. Merseyside and Lancashire police raided seventeen separate addresses in the Sefton and Skelmersdale areas of Liverpool, with a total of five major duplicating operations apparently being uncovered.
During a 2003 raid, more than 13,000 items were seized including pirate videotapes, CDs and DVDs. The pair had been selling pirate copies of games and film both online and from their store. They were charged with conspiracy to produce counterfeit product, with Forhad sentenced to serve 15 months and Ajad nine months.
A retailer was ordered to pay 3,310 pounds ($5,768 USD) in fines and serve 240 hours of community service for manufacturing and selling counterfeit games for all console systems after being apprehended by a joint operation of the ELSPA, Staffordshire Trading Standards, and the local police.
William Agnew, aged 50, of Hamilton in central Scotland, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service after admitting to trademark offences. 4,000 pirated DVDs, CDs and games on PlayStation, Xbox and PC platforms were seized during the raid on Agnew’s business premises. Agnew was known to sell the goods from his ice cream van.
Text of Sony v. Filipiak Decision
On Dec 27, 2005, In this decision, Sony was awarded more than $6 million in statutory damages against an individual that sold Playstation mod chips in contravention of the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. The statutory minimum and maximums are $200 and $2,500 per violation. Sony was awarded $800 per “wilful” circumvention/infringement for initial violations and the highest possible, $2,500, for violations that occurred after the defendant had signed a consent judgment agreeing to stop such violations – he didn’t! In this case a computer forensics expert was able to determine that the defendant had erased thousands of incriminating transaction files/records just prior to handing his hard drive over to Sony’s counsel as agreed in a consent judgment.
Biren Amin, owner of Pandora’s Cube, is: (i) sentenced to five months in prison, (ii) sentenced to three years of supervised release, including 5 months of house arrest, (iii) fined $$247,237.05; and (iv) ordered to complete 80 hours of community service, for copyright infringement and DMCA violations.
- Maryland Video Game Pirate Sentenced (September 16, 2005)
- Pandor’s Cube Pirate Sentenced (July 27, 2005)
- Xbox-Modding Retailers Plead Guilty to DMCA Violations (June 7, 2005)