back to article Bloke, 22, in knockoff Microsoft Xbox ring gets 18 months in the cooler

A 22-year-old member of a games-hacking ring that sold counterfeit Microsoft's Xbox One consoles could spend the next year and a half behind bars in America. A US court sentenced Canadian David Pokora to 18 months in the slammer for his involvement in a group accused of stealing an estimated $100m to 200m worth of source code …

  1. chebucto
    Pirate

    What do the beancounters say about the value

    If the property in question was worth $100 to $200 million, did the beancounters mark that much down as a loss on the books in the time between the 'theft' and the arrest? Methinks not, given that it was copied, not stolen.

    PS, note to author re: 'intellectual property'; you might find this interesting: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html

    1. Fibbles

      Re: What do the beancounters say about the value

      If a company spends $200 million on research and you break in and steal a copy, then you have stolen $200 million worth of research. It doesn't mean the company has lost $200 million worth of research. Though the research being in the public sphere will devalue it.

      1. chebucto

        Re: What do the beancounters say about the value

        Using the cost of the research as the value of a copy of the results of that research is misleading on its face. Why, if Xbox One software is $200m worth of research, are the machines sold for hundreds of dollars?

        They didn't steal $200m worth of research, they made an unauthorized copy of the results of $200m worth of research. At no time was the company deprived of anything - a fact which makes this type of crime fundamentally different from what is colloquially called 'theft'.

        1. YARR

          Re: What do the beancounters say about the value

          I don't know the legal definition of theft, but since most information is digital nowadays, anyone obtaining an illicit copy of information is not depriving the original owner of their information. They are instead depriving them of control of the use of that information, which for a business could result in lost sales or give an advantage to a competitor. In this instance, the value of the loss is substantially more than one retail unit cost of a console or game, but will be less than the total development cost - which likely is hundreds of millions of dollars.

          Copying the source code is like finding the secret recipe of a renowned soft drink, rather than obtaining the drink without payment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What do the beancounters say about the value

            Theft: "A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it."

            I'm guessing they left the originals in place, in which case it ain't "Theft".

        2. WalterAlter
          Megaphone

          Re: What do the beancounters say about the value

          So, bottom line- we're finally entering an era where possession of intangible IDEAS are considered wealth and not the possession of tangible money. This puts us only a heartbeat away from the practical observation that a human mind is a priceless asset to any nation and that nation should do all in its power to amplify the cognitive functioning of its citizenry- better methods of parenting, better schools, better testing, better routing of talented kidz, making smart people media stars, national scholarships. What have YOU done in this direction today?

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    I want to know more about how these jokers managed to build bootleg current gen consoles! Did they actually work, and if so where did they get the parts?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No kidding. Seems like somebody should be offering them jobs instead of suing them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This really is the strangest thing I've ever read about console piracy, it surely is a mistake. Either the person that wrote this article is really out of the loop, or the people supplying this information are really out of the loop. I don't even see how it would be profitable, shit you can't even get the DDR5 by itself reasonably (if at all, same with CPU and GPU).

        Also, I like how the software could be worth $100 million, or say....double that ($200 million). Sounds like they just picked a number then doubled it for good measure of guesstimation. Try doing this shit with your insurance company after your house burns down..."Yes agent, it was worth $200,000. You know what, make that $400,000".

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        On reflection, it's probably just a slightly more elaborate version of the "package with a brick in it" scam. In this case you get a shiny brick shaped like an Xbox One.

      3. Turtle

        Job Offerings.

        "Seems like somebody should be offering them jobs instead of suing them."

        They will indeed be offered jobs. In the prison laundry, for example.

    2. emmanuel goldstein

      i would *really* like to know how they could build current gen consoles AND make a unit profit.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        It seems they sold one console for $5000. This goes into more detail...

        http://www.itworld.com/article/2694992/it-management/how-hackers-accidentally-sold-a-pre-release-xbox-one-to-the-fbi.html

        The hardware is pretty easy to find but I'm still not quite sure how they did the OS considering the Xbox's private keys are supposed to be private.

    3. Fibbles

      It's just an x86 PC with a slightly custom APU and fast memory. You could easily build something similar, though with slower memory. The tricky part is getting the OS.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Thank you Dan 55 for that link. It makes things clearer - the accused accessed information destined for 3rd party developers. These developers would have used fairly standard x86 AMD machines to develop the XBOX One games. This makes sense - they start developeing these games many months if not years before the actual console hardware is finalised,

  3. tempemeaty

    This does not come off like it was a $100Mil manufacuring enterprise

    Correct me if I'm wrong but it sounds like a handful of gamers who couldn't wait for product releases managed only to roll their own & build their own plus some for a handful of friends. Not that big.

    If I'm wrong then where did the capital come from to manufacture and sell knock off boxes?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poppycock

    Nobody but a lunatic would build and sell and knock off console that worked exactly like the real one. It would cost a fortune. More likely is if someone had the blueprints and skill to build one, they would just hack the hell out of the OS. Then they would make and sell modchips or hardware to crack the real thing. As nobody to date has hacked the new gen consoles this is just bullshit. It's all about New Nazi USA extending it's laws to control the world. What was the name of the country that did that last time around 100 years ago? This is just the beginning.

    1. Fibbles
      Trollface

      Re: Poppycock

      Britain?

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Considering the number of commodity parts in a current gen console, they probably used parts that performed better but at greater cost, modified to fit a compact chassis and then applied the firmware. While not being tailored to run in that exact hardware having more powerful kit would compensate for non optimised code and games.

  6. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

    If they managed to get a working knock-off then I'm hugely impressed, that's really no small feat but I suspect that what they managed to get going was a laptop/notebook board with separate Radeon compatible GPU board with heavily modded firmware. Again no small feat but slightly less impressive.

  7. Vince

    Why is it these companies have source code on internet connected kit in the first place!?!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Convenience?

  8. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'm impressed

    I'm duly impressed that they could mock up an XBox One.

    As for the value oft the docuemnts, there's a long tradition in the US of ridiculously inflating these figures. The example I am aware of is the 1990 case where AT&T sent the Feds after some LOD/H (Legion of Doom/Legion of Hackers) members for pilfering a confidential AT&T document. First, AT&T claimed the document was worth $75,000. Then $35,000. Then, they had the feds drop all charges when it came out that a) This document was available -- for free -- at various public libraries, including the defendent's local library, it was not confidential at all. b) AT&T would ship it in printed form to any and all for like $50 shipped.

  9. RobDog

    "Protovision...

    ...I have you now!"

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