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.