Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Microsoft Bans 1 Million Xbox Live Users for Modding Their Xbox 360's

Microsoft made the bold move this week by banning 1 million Xbox live subscription accounts because Xbox believed those users had modded their Xbox 360 in order to play pirated games. Xbox 360’s have security protections in place that only allows the Xbox to read and play valid and verified game disks. However, you can get a mod chip or other device installed on your Xbox, usually for about $100, which bypasses the inherent protections allowing pirated games to work. Somehow, it isn’t clear yet, Microsoft was able to determine which users had mod chips or other similar mods on their Xbox. The banned users can still play offline; only the online play capability provided by Xbox live was removed.

It is important to note that not only is making pirated copies of video games illegal (assuming no fair use right), but so is modding an Xbox. By modding an Xbox, the user has bypassed the protection put in place by Microsoft that prevent unauthorized disks from being read by the system. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) says that “no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work.” By modding the xbox, people are violating the DMCA.

Given the fact that Microsoft had the identities and account information of all the people who modded their Xbox, those users should feel lucky that they are only losing their Xbox live subscription and not facing a lawsuit.


  1. If the DMCA can only be enforced in the US, I wonder, would it be illegal for users in other countries to have their Xbox modded? Or would that also be illegal as Microsoft is a US corporation?

  2. I believe that it would only be illegal if that Country adopted a law similar to the DMCA. However, DMCA clauses are potentially being added to the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). See Ars Technica's Article.

    If DMCA is added to ACTA, that could spread it to many countries. As of now, Microsoft is relying on basic contract rights (breach of terms of service of xbox live) to keep people from modding their xbox's. Basic contract rights should be enforceable in most countries.

  3. Probably not in Iran. HAHA

    DMCA is a travesty, but that's another topic.

    I don't think they should feel lucky.
    It is simple business strategy from Microsoft's end. If they go after them legally, it'll be very expensive, to little yield.
    If they simply just ban them from online, they'd likely go and buy a new xbox, so more profit for Microsoft.

    Now, Piracy is wrong.
    But Consoles suck, they're not YOURS to own and use as you see fit. Which is BS.
    You pay for a flower pot stand.
    PC forever!
    No console. No apple. No junkbox that you cannot open and fix and upgrade on your own.