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back to article Lawyers pursue banned Xbox Live gamers

Are you an Xbox 360 owner recently banned from Xbox Live? Has the ban left you feeling short changed? Perhaps you’ve experienced other console problems as a result of the ban? If you can answer 'yes' to any of these questions, then US law firm Abington IP wants to hear from you. The “intellectual property law and consumer class …

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Grenade

Ambulance chaser with a weak stomach

so he's chasing petty modders instead.

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Pint

It's MY console.

And if i want to run a back up of my game then i shall!!!!!

Without fear of being banned.

As it happens, my hacked console has never been banned as its never been on the live network.

And it wont be but thats not the point.

Beer, cos its Friday

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it is not the user who is banned

from my noledge as a hardware modder and reading posts on www.xbox-scene.com forums it is not he user of xbox live who gets banned mearly the modified console is banned. the user can still use an unmoddified console to access the service.

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Gates Halo

Only In America ....

Typical Microsoft response in cross examination on a XBox user.

MS: Did you agree to the EULA when you signed up the XBox Live, and when using the XBox.

User: What is a EULA

MS: The long text that you need to say yes to to continue using the game or hardware.

User: Yes I agreed

MS: And in the EULA it states that we can pretty much screw you over if you modify our kit for the purposes of using pirated software

User: Errr... Does it?

Abington Lawyer: Judge that is irrelevant, we can show that this person lost all of his friends due to Microsoft's actions.

Judge: Microsoft are not responsible for the ability of the users of its' hardware and software to get a life.

Judge: Find for Microsoft, case dismissed

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@gareth 5

Spot on, MS have stated numerous times that your account isnt affected.

Doubt this will get off the ground as they are also wanting people who are having issues not attributed to Live, because all MS have to do is ask them to prove the modding process hasnt caused the issue.

Would you expect MS to fix the red ring of death after you had invalidated the warranty by modding the box?....No?....then stop crying and buy a new one.

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Anonymous Coward

Of course...

"Modification of Xbox consoles is arguably against the terms of use for Xbox/Xbox Live”, Abington (and you) states... so, if you're one of those prick that modified the console breaking the law, please came forward so we can sue the shit out of you... I mean, we can all sue Microsoft and get a cut at all those juicy billions of dollars they have in a bank somewhere.

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@gareth 5

Written like a truly dedicated Xbox gamer!

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@ the real jacob

You need to read the article properly, he wants to take Microsoft to court not the modders.

Pretty strong stomach i'd say!

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FAIL

Backup my Rssss

It's MY console. #

By cornz 1 Posted Friday 20th November 2009 15:57 GMT

And if i want to run a back up of my game then i shall

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah come on. If thats really the defence then microsoft should be sitting pretty.

You willing to tell a judge you had your xbox modded just so you could use backups cos those game discs fail so often and they're so expensive to replace!

I guess you backup your dvds too.

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WTF?

Re: it is not the user who is banned

Problem - from my point of view - is that not being able to get to XBox Live (XBL) means that you ain't going to be able to get access to the patches that are issued via XBL for games. And, if my limited experience is typical, then there's patches issued pretty frequently.

What I disagree with MS over is what exactly constitutes a modded XBox360 - I suffered from the RRoD so I was looking at the various clip mods that are out there. If I put one of those on the 360 does that now count a "modded" and so banned. (And yes, I _do_ appreciate that it's damned difficult/near-impossible for MS to remotely tell that the heatsink mod's been applied)

Still I suppose it's all 'work' for US lawyers... (worst luck!)

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Black Helicopters

Interesting way of...

...collecting the names and addresses of all the potential pirates out there :-)

Personally I'm of the mindset, if you mod your console, then you're taking the risk of possible problems. When I soft-modded my original XBOX to use XBMC, I was well aware that it would possibly risk the console being banned from XBOX Live, but I accepted that. I also understand that if I take my XBOX360 apart then I will invalidate the warranty and I'll be on my own if I have a problem (I must admit though, the fans on my XBOX 360 Elite are bloody noisy so when the warranty does run out I'll probably look at replacing them with something a bit quieter if possible).

Anon and black helecopters because, well you don't know who's reading.

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Grenade

Whine and Cheese on Friday

So let's pretend you sign up for a service, and in the action of signing up for that service you agree to certain conditions. Sound good? OK, now follow me here. Let's say the agreement states that if you step outside of the aforementioned conditions that the service provider can then cut off said service from you. OK, now let's say you break one of those conditions.

What is it that you deserve? To have your service cut-off. Period. Enjoy your service-less life.

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Grenade

Just when you thought all lawyers were evil

It really is time, ok actually about 100 years past time, to bring the full force of the predatory laws that governments use to threaten the life and liberty of REAL people to bear against corporations.

The easy way to do this is to put their directors in prison for many many years. Since we won't see that until the next French style revolution, I'm all over civil penalties that will PERSECUTE companies that are basically evil.

I am completely unaffected by this fiasco as I never thought an xbox was worth modding. But that doesn't mean M$ should be allowed this blatant violation of fair use. Seems being reinstated, a binding order to never do this again, and maybe $5,000 per month for each month they are banned to each disconnected user would be a very just settlement here. It's time to stop this stuff cold!

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Megaphone

@ the real jacob

RTFA

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useless suit

Yes its your console and you can mod it to play 'backups' if you want. Just wont be able to do so on the Xbox Live network.

You will notice that MS doesnt actually brick your console to make it unplayable.

I really dont see any merit to this suit. They mention contacting them if you weren't refunded for the remainder of your subscription. Well your subscription is still active and will work fine on another unbanned console.

People are complaining that the ban also bricks the HDD. Well it doesnt. Again the HDD works fine on an unbannded console.

All in all I don't see how they expect to win with this?

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Pirate

"Backups"??

This is the sort of user who's had his console banned: http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/technology/newsid_10000000/newsid_10002900/10002915.stm

I quote - " I mean it's always at the back of your head using pirate games you know there's that possibility".

IMHO, the vast majority of Xbox owners who claim to have modified their consoles so that they can use "backups" of their legitimately owned software are lying thieves! I'd say all of them, but I'm sure their are one or two red-palmed anoraks who can't face putting their original GTA disks in their Xbox!

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Backups my ass

Consoles are hacked to play pirated games.

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Grenade

Whatever

If you mod your 360, you break your agreement with MS. If you've broken your agreement, MS knock that machine off Live. It's that simple. Those are the rules you agreed to when you powered on that console. Sony will probably start doing the same thing, and then Nintendo. If you hack Windows, you don't get tech support or updates if they detect you've hacked it. Same principle.

As for people saying they modded the console so they can back up games - well guys, you can RIP THE GAME TO THE HARD DISC AND USE THAT IF THE ORIGINAL IS IN THE DRIVE. And it's a lot cheaper than modding it!!!!!!!! The ones complaining about being kicked off are the ones who just can't be bothered to buy the stuff in the first place.

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Boffin

@Chris Harrison

Actually, I _do_ back up my DVDs. The first thing I do when I get new software is to generate a copy and then install from the copy, keeping the original in a safe place where it won't get scratched, warped, or broken. Any software which can't be copied is immediately returned to the vendor. If I can't make a backup, I don't want it. This also applies to movies and music. Let's just say that if I _didn't_ follow that procedure at home, I'd have purchased at least four copies of one recent (and highly popular with pre-teens) cartoon movie. Instead of buying another copy, I merely ripped a new copy from my original, and put the original back into the child-proof storage area.

There are certain products which are difficult to back up; I have made a note of the vendors of such products, and no longer buy from them. If they make it difficult to protect my investment, I will decline to give them my money.

And, before you ask, yes, that's why I don't have a Blu-ray device anywhere on the premises. Blu-ray is a giant exercise in copy-protection, and those who indulge in it will not get any money from me until after there is a safe, simple, reliable, method for backing up my purchase.

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FAIL

Ha

I don;t want to say anything but one of the major issues with XBOX 360 Discs is that just a small number of scratches or prolonged time in the drive whilst on causes damage to the Disc and ultimately you have to go out an buy a new one... If they offered replacement discs as part of buying the software then no problem, no need to mod, but as far as I'm concerned it is a legitimate concern. Funny how you get all these twats who spent their spotty experimental years in the 80's copying music off the radio from tapes taking a jibe at all the kids copying games and music off the net today. As fro ripping to the drive if you have over 30 games how can you fit it all on the measly 120Gb HDD?

I reckon that they need to start an OpenConsole development push free software into the front room.

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FAIL

@Backups my ass

You deserve to have something backed up your ass, that's for sure.

Just because you might have hacked your console to play unlawfully copied games doesn't mean that everyone else is of your shady, trollish character. XBMC alone is enough reason to mod an xbox.

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Silver badge

RIP EULA?

Perhaps we'll finally see the end of totally one sided EULA which in most cases say the end user agrees that they are entitled to jack sh*t and the supplier can do what the hell they like.

I know it's a long shot but it would be good to see.

Then we can all go after M$ for polluting the world with all their other worthless products.

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Flame

xbox pirates need to stop bitching

seriously, STFU. You have been owned, okay?

Buy your games next time dipshit.

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Not hitting the right people

The problem is that the justification for the ban is a breach of the TOU for XBox live but there's a disconnect between the person agreeing not to violate the TOU and punishment applied. Lets say that the xbox is owned by someone who hasn't agreed to the TOU but modded the console. Then an Xbox live enabled profile uses the console and the owner of the console now has abox that's been crippled due to TOU violations that he's not signed up to.

My eight year old has just lost a level 103 Viva Pinata profile (hey - it's important to him OK?)because his elder brother took the memory card round to his mates house for quick blast of illegal MW2. The 16yo is fine because his profile's been recovered, but the 8yo is screwed because I didn't let him sign up to Live.

Fact is you can't be punished for breaking a contract you haven't signed up to and that's what MS are doing. Now you can argue that there are terms that allow the removal of the signing functionality but MS didn't use those - they used the TOU of the XBox Live contract which is distnctly differnt to the console licensing

What they should have done is banned the profile thus linking the violation to teh person breaking the rules.- but that would have cost them a lot of money. On that basis this lawsuit has every chance of succeeding since persons who haven't violated the TOU have been damaged directly by MS actions.

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Pint

@Ed 17

Bang on mate! Well done!

The modders always come out with this crap about playing some wank Jap title that only had a 250 limited edition release. Bollocks! You, like the rest of us, are fed up with paying £45 a copy for a game, so you plaid £40 quid for a modchip, then rented games from BlockBuster, after making a 'backup' of said rental games, just to ensure you can help BlockBuster out if they have any trouble!

When you licensed the console from MS and license the games, yes that what you do with them, you don't own them, you license them, the EULA clearly statez, you will not break those little silver stickers that say VOID, you will not rip off games for you and your mates, if you do, then we can bend you over a barrel an mess with your squidgy bits as we see fit!

I don't know what all the fuss is about really, they have had this power for years. The original Xbox console chips always had a switch on the outside, you turn it on to play, ahem "foreign imports", and turned it off to play online with genuine games, as you knew that if you went online with your chip active, you would be permanently banned from Live services.

Once again, we have muppets at work! Modern gamers buy a chipped XBOX360 off that well-known tat market for double the price you can pay down Argos, then don't have the nous to understand what chipping is all about, the consequences of chipping. I have an original Xbox that's been chipped, they make absolutely perfect media centres to stream vids and music from a home NAS when they're running XBMC. I never play games on it anymore, and it's firewalled inside my LAN.

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Pint

@AC @17:57

Want to know how to get more games onto the Hard Disc? Like this:-

Buy a 2.5" SATA Laptop hard disc from your retail store of choice, capacity of your choice

Open up HD Caddy on 360

Take out drive that's in there

Put in drive you bought

Clip caddy back together

Reattach to console

Power on.

Still-cheaper-than-modding-it and you won't get kicked of Xbox live. A win-win, no?

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@ James O'Shea

I agree, I'm exactly the same, original copies remain where they can't be damaged.

I've not yet come across much that can't be copied, but have a 100% return rate for those few items.

Hell I even created a disc image of my TomToms SD card just in case.

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Linux

I don't own or want an eX-pox

Are there known specific problems with modded hardware that prevents XBL from working properly, or is purely a software scheme designed to protect Microsofts' monopoly^H profits^H rights ?

If Microsoft can't show specific cases of modded consoles of every type causing a problem, I really don't see what the issue is here - whatever happened to the "first sale" doctrine, beyond which what the purchaser does with the product is supposed to be outside the scope of the vendor/manufacturers' limit of control ? (like preventing games being sold second-hand because of an online validation system that refuses to allow it to be installed). They're not allowed to control hardware (or any other type of goods, like a hairdryer) in this way, yet that is what they're doing here by the back door.

That the purchaser may be playing copied games - whether they own a "licence" (these should be illegal too) to or not - should remain outside the physical capabilities of the hardware they purchased.

They bought the hardware and have a right to do with it what they want. Playing an *illegally* copied game is a distinct offence and actionable in its' own right, whereas modifying a console you bought should not be.

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Black Helicopters

sledgehammer, meet nut

If this is just an XBL issue, why don't MS use the Steam method?

You can copy the game as often as you like, but only login and use the network from one host at a time. You can copy your media, make disk backups of your games or re-download it at any time. You can "go offline" to play standalone as well. This doesn't stop stand-alone pirates, but neither does the XBL ban. Just include a XBL registration code (which is tied not to an xbox but to an xbl account ) in the with the game DVD and its all good.

It seems MS is using xbox live to punish modders. It's punishing modding, which isn't quite as legitimate as punishing the piracy directly. The correct and proper way to punish piracy is to sue the pirates. If you don't really know who the culprits are, you shouldn't be handing out punishments.

I would agree that most modding is probably to enable piracy, but that isn't the issue. The issue is a company hiding behind a EULA using heavy handed techniques because it can't be bothered to follow the proper procedures for dealing with customers who infringe copyright. Seriously, if MS sent out messages over XBL saying "pay us online for this game we've seen you pirate, or we'll cut you off XBL and take you to the small claims court" I suspect they could get some cash and keep their customers for future revenue generation. Cutting off units from XBL seems like a revenue destroying plan. Do people really go out and buy a new xbox or buy more games for a banned box?

Which leads me to another conclusion. Maybe game piracy isn't the chief issue. Maybe the chief issue is control - perhaps banning modded boxes is more about creating a TPM-environment, preparing for digital video content distribution. Are they banning mostly old systems in the hope that people decide an upgrade is worthwhile? "Xbox banned? How about a new one for Christmas!" Oh, did I mention that if a new box is bought, MS get all the revenue rather than the manufacturer's whose games were pirated? The games writers have to suffer any drop off in revenue if the xbox is ditched (MS has already been paid) and have to wait for future supposed drops in piracy to reap any benefit.

As mentioned at the top, if controlling online gaming is the method chosen to combat piracy, there are far better ways to do it than banning the consoles. That just stinks of ulterior motive.

And no, I'm not bitter - I've never had a console.

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FAIL

You buy our shite...

...we own you. What more do you need to know? You don't like it? Don't fucking buy it, retards.

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FAIL

Steam.

Steam method? Tying a game to a login ID?

The reason I buy games for my xbox instead of through Steam is so that I can sell the games later if I so choose. Can I do that through Steam? No. No I can't.

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@AC 17:57

"Funny how you get all these twats who spent their spotty experimental years in the 80's copying music off the radio from tapes taking a jibe at all the kids copying games and music off the net today."

::snort::

I have several hundred kilos of 1/2inch tape that contains the first ever playing of two or so decades of vinyl recordings. I used the half inch tape to make cassettes, and later CDs, so as to not further damage the vinyl with the needle. Most of the second playing of that vinyl went directly to digital. I, me, personally, bought all that vinyl. I feel (and the SCotUS agrees with me) that I have a right to backup that investment.

I cut my eyeteeth in radio at KZSU (as a student) and KFJC (as a teacher). My personal 1/2inch air-check tapes from 1967-1973 were converted to CD years ago ... with a little help from Tascam. I will happily give (not sell!) a personal friend a copy of any of the CDs. They are MY personal form of art, and I defy any prosecutor to prove different.

I also have no issue with anybody making backup copies of software that they have already purchased ... in fact, I encourage it. Stuff happens. Backups are good.

But copying games and music off the 'net is (according to current law) STEALING.

THAT said, I personally think that the current laws need to be revisited ... The folks who own the copyright on the material in question no longer have a monopoly on the distribution channels. Like it or not, once something is digitized, anyone, anywhere, can make an exact copy. And people WILL, for the simple reason that humans seem to be programmed for both theft AND gift-giving (probably a simian/lizard hind-brain thingie ... easy-pickings means less effort for more calories, and giving gifts means a safe place to stay and/or more sex).

Despite the above rant, I do not have any answers for the RealWorld(tm). Caveat emptor.

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FAIL

Everyones rights

You are absolutely right that M$ has the right to ban people from Xbox live. People also have the right to never spend another dollar on M$s joke of system. Instead of wasting more of your money on another xbox that may or may not RROD or get banned again anyway, make the headache go away and buy a very similarly priced PS3 instead. The PS3 hardware is much higher quality and the only reason xbox sold so many systems in the first place was due to the piracy. The PS3 online service is free for life and if you want to punish M$ and its shareholders the best way to do so is to help make the Xbox division bleed even more red by denying them the lucrative high margin low overhead Xbox live and DLC extortion. If they are going to force you to buy the games anyway go with the better system and deny them yet another way of pumping up their fake sales numbers of consoles (lol I bet they have only sold about 10 million original systems and the rest are replacements they find away to count as new sales).

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WTF?

@jake

"But copying games and music off the 'net is (according to current law) STEALING."

no.. copyright infringement.

stealing involves pyhsically taking something.

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FAIL

All this DRM is a money-making scam!

These companies all try to extract as much dosh from the customer as possible under whatever pretense they deem necessary.

This is all I ask:

If I "own" the software after purchase, then you better let me make my own backup copy of it.

If I "lease" the software after purchase, then you better give me replacement media when it breaks!

Sorted!

But no, they try to say you "lease" or "rent" the software "code" from them, they don't let you make backups, but they won't replace it when it breaks either. WTF? FAIL!

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Stop

Installing to the hard drive?

You can't use backup's as an excuse because it's a feature already built into the Xbox. My old Xbox scratched my disks up to the point of not working but after I copied them to the HDD using mates copies I was able to play my games again.

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Boffin

Lulz

Either way it's beyond the point... In law we should not allow any company to deny customers the option of modifying what they have purchased... ownership of that item should transferred to the purchaser end of story. Furthermore this modification shouldn't then ban you from online services. If I modify a chair and add some arms... I'm no longer allowed to sit on it or even worse play "Musical" chairs with my friends, what a pile of total bollocks this system is, and lets not even get started on copyright there should be a 10 year maximum copyright then everything becomes public domain, that's more than enough time to make some cash. Winblows is prime example of how copyright and licensing stifles innovation... the free software community had hardware accelerated 3d desktop environments years before M$ implented it.

Furthermore for the past 20 years the Entertainment Industry has used its control of the means of production to exploit the consumer base and drive up pricing to unrealistic levels. The Average wage per hour in this country is £6.22 yet the average new album is £12.99, £40.00 for a game or £15 for a DVD, it's insane of course people are going to pirate. Now that people have control over the means of production so to speak the idiotic entertainment industry is crying foul rather than getting off their slave owning plantation chairs and changing their business model to one of cheap bulk buying via online subscriptions etc... a model that people are crying out for, to someone on £800 pounds a month £15 per month subscription for unlimited downloads is doable.

The whole media has either got you fools thinking "Oh the poor pirates have rights" or "Oh the poor entertainment Industry is going down the swanny" when the reality is that both parties are the extreme and somewhere in the middle is the solution.

The answer is heavy curtailing on industry control over market pricing, stronger policing of mass scale pirating (not jo blogs at home downloading the newest "cam") and safe official alternative low priced subscription service.

Draconian Sith laws banning people form the net won't change anything people will just trade DVD's and Music CD's again like they've done for years, furthermore it's not hard to rip iPlayer streams or Music from Spotify via your sound card using free program like Audacity this whole bullshit is insane.

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@styx-tdo

"copyright infringement."

Of course. But that isn't the way the lawyers are working it ... nor is it the way the lobbyists are working it. Please re-read the paragraph under the one you responded to. Trust me, I get it. If you have time, please read my friend Janis Ian's 2002 article on the subject:

http://www.janisian.com/article-internet_debacle.html

It's a long article, with a lot of references, well worth getting a cuppa (or a pinta) and spending however long it takes you to comprehend what she's saying. Keep in mind the article is coming from a recording artist with a slightly longer career in her field as I have in IT ... "Society's Child" was first released about three years before I first made money with computers.

Insert the final line in my 07:30 post here.

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Thumb Up

You messed with your console and were warned - it's tough!

To all the people who modified their console, whether or not you modified it to play illegal games or backups it's tough. You read and agreed to the terms and conditions of the X-Box console. If you keep your original discs safe they should easily outlast the playability of the game anyway so you should have no need to back them up. As for the ones who have been using illegal discs in your console, you put your hand inside the cookie jar and got caught. It was so obvious that at some point Microsoft, and no doubt many other games consoles will put a stop to illegal gaming through online lock down, it is the best and most easiest way to stop piracy. Even if someone comes out with a fix for it Microsoft will just introduce a new patch to stop you going onto XBox Live again. Do the decent thing, stop breaking the law and only buy legitimate games for your console and give the developers their money.

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FAIL

XBox 360 Mods.....

FACT: Most modded consoles are modded for the purpose of playing pirated 360 games. Key word here is MOST. When I modded my original Xbox console I didn't care about pirated games. I cared about using 3rd party software that was not digitally signed by Microsoft and running homebrewed games as well as copying my existing games to the hard drive for better performance and some game modding.

Now if Microsoft did allow modified consoles on XBL then that greatly increases the chances of XBL players cheating & hacking from their consoles and could also result in the spreading of XBL virus if someone felt like developing one. So Microsoft's anti modding stance is a good thing. If you open your console you void your warranty much like most electronics these days. If you make any modifications to it you should not be allowed on XBL. This is why true modders who dont mod for piracy should buy 2 consoles. One for mods & one for XBL and having a legit console. So if you were banned go buy a new console and don't open it up. You will still get your XBL sub's money worth and you can still continue to mod, homebrew and whatever else you do with your modded console.

That being said if Microsoft was smart the would sell a warranty plan that covers modified consoles that costs extra money so those who crack their boxes can send them in when they solder the wrong wire to the wrong spot or accidentally wipe their nvram. That way they can make money off the happy mod community and not have to bitch about them fucking with their hardware. I myself have 2 xbox's a 1st Generation Original Xbox modded with a Xecutor 3 chip, Xecutor 3 Front panel with USB & LCD, 500GB hard drive one of those alternative CD/DVD drives and it runs XBMC. I think a modded original xbox is way cooler than any 360 just because of XBMC alone. XBMC has far better network support for media and can play virtually any damn media file that exists unlike the one in the Xbox 360 which I have a Elite that I will never think of modding because to the best of my knowledge there are no good homebrew software to run on a modded 360 yet.

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FAIL

Imagine...

Imagine if anyone tried this same heavy-handed approach to the Internet - "OK, you're not using precisely the same hardware/software config as when you bought your computer, so you can't get on the Internet. Meanwhile, you can't even write your own software or use software a friend wrote without either (a) paying us money so we can slap our logo on the disc or (b) modifying your PC" Meanwhile, Corruped Shadows, the XBL network as it exists now is ripe for virus attack. Just like when Dutch Elm Disease wiped out nearly every elm tree in the United States, every box hooked to the VPN has the exact same hardware/software config and therefore the entire network is incredibly susceptible. A healthier network, as a healthier biodome, has a variety of "species" and "varieties" so that what damages one will not harm all.

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Pint

I have to wonder...

...if any of these people whinging about 'rights transferral upon purchase' or 'denied use of a service' actually reading the article? Or more importantly, understanding?

1) Microsoft are not bricking your console. You can still use it, just not on XBox Live

2) Microsoft are not bricking your profile. You can still use it, just not on your modded console.

Microsoft provide a service. It's not a god-given right that you are allowed to play on XBox Live. You use THEIR service on THEIR terms. Welcome to the concept of 'business', you bunch of mindless, dribbling, morons.

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@asdf

It still amazes me there are fanboys on el reg, I've come to expect a better class of comment here. It may surprise you to know there ARE legitimate reasons to choose a 360 over a PS3 - I should know, I've got both and, hey! They're both good.

If I've got you wrong and you're just a troll I apologise. You should really think of some funny names for the systems you don't like, it'll give people more warning of what type of post they're about to read.

As for pirates getting booted off live, I love it!

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re..Imagine...#

Er....we don't need to imagine, we can see that on the internet. It's full of viruses and malware and scareware and lots of other nasty words with ware added to them.

The point MS are making is that you mod the console then you risk the service for everyone else. Therefore you are more than welcome to mod the console, but as a result we won't let you use the service. If you don't like it...get a Wii.

MS and security....dammed if they do and dammed if they don't.

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Contract Law

IANAL, true, but I know a little baout contractual law, and clicking "I Agree" on a e-EULA does *not* amount to a 'contractual agreement'. Instead, it operates as a disclaimer, inasmuch as it acts as evidence that you have read and understood the EULA, not that you have contractually agreed to it, even if the button says "I agree" rather than "I understand the terms and conditions".

The key element missing from this transaction that would convert the EULA to a contract is the signature of BOTH parties. After all, *anyone* could've clicked that button....

Also, the power of a EULA is limited in a large number of countries. In the UK it falls into a very grey area that is still disputed in contractual law, and in Germany it hold no weight at all because it could only be read *AFTER* the purchase was made, making it an 'unfair imposition of terms'.

It may well be that Microsoft is on good ground in the US, but I think a class action coming out of Europe might give them cause for concern if they rely on the argument that the end user breached the EULA.

On the other hand, opening a box and tinkering with it certainly breaks the Warranty and the manufacturer is no longer obliged to provide technical services, including support, and that may provide for the withdrawal of software services as well (Such already happens if you crack open a digitial TV decoder ~ your service can be withdrawn if you're detected.) and, I believe, that ANY service can be withdrawn by the provider under any circumstances they wish without need to give notification or reason ("The management reserves the right to refuse entry").

I think it's going to be an interesting debate....

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