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Xbox Hackers, Linux, the DMCA, And Modchips 343

Posted by timothy
from the oh-my dept.
HardcoreGamer writes "The New York Times has a long article on Xbox hacking, why Microsoft hates it, and who does it (Google). 'Xbox hackers are exploiting Microsoft's business model, which is to sell Xbox hardware at a loss...' but Microsoft doesn't make the money back on software -- as it planned to -- if you decide to load up Xbox Linux. Where else can you get a PIII-733 with graphics and audio for $180? The reporter talked to the IDSA; Andrew Huang, author of 'Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering'; a Manhattan exec who hacked his Xbox and said 'The reality is that if you could bypass Microsoft's operating system you would end up with a fairly powerful computer for less than $200;' and others. The article discusses the DMCA, modchips, the Xbox Linux Project and lots more. A good -- if long -- read. A shorter version of the story is at the International Herald Tribune. Best quote? 'Microsoft is a company passionate about innovation and creativity. We are also very committed to respect for others' intellectual property and we request the same respect applied to our innovations.'"
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Xbox Hackers, Linux, the DMCA, And Modchips

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  • Respect ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theefer (467185) * on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:26AM (#6423504) Homepage
    Since when is this word part of the capitalist vocabulary ? Doesn't seem to consistant with the ongoing lawsuits, FUD wars, hypocrisy, etc.

    Exploiting other company's business model flaws is the basis of the world economy, so let's not be stupid, if they don't want flaws to be exploited, they've better not have flaws in the first place. Too bad, it's too late now.
  • by grimani (215677) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:28AM (#6423515)
    I think the P3-733 for 180 comparison is not completely valid.

    The XBox is not really extensible like a regular PC. How many PCI slots do you have? How many USB/FireWire ports? As a console, many 'regular' features unnecessary for a console that we take for granted are not included.

    This kinda limits the usefulness of the XBox.

    It's kinda like those deals on the Dell server machines you can get with some creative configuration and coupon applications.

    Sure, you get for $300 a full powered server machine...but it has no AGP slot. So much for gaming...

    Are there updated drivers for the XBox video card available at all?
  • Slashdot (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:32AM (#6423527)
    ..where stealing is ok as long as it's not GPL'd.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:32AM (#6423529) Homepage
    I thought that the XBox selling costs covered variable costs (ie the parts in the box), and so even if it doesn't entirley cover the fixed costs (ie the factory) at low volume it will do eventually when enough units have been shipped has been reached?

    If this is the case then XBox Linux helps MS by raising the volumes (not to mention giving them better sales figures to lie about to their game makers).

    If of course they are selling below variable cost then well, count me in for loads of the things - I have no problems attempting to bankrupt the swine who injected cash into SCO to prolong their litigation.
  • Creativity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonMagic (170846) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:33AM (#6423535) Homepage
    So...

    They're all for innovation and creativity... but you should respect their own...

    Yet you can't innovate or create new items with their hardware that you PURCHASE, because they won't respect YOUR innovation and creativity.

    Sounds like they want their cake and to eat it, too.
  • I get it now. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rosyna (80334) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:36AM (#6423544) Homepage
    Microsoft is pressing charges against people that blatently point out their flawed business plan. When other companies sell "at a loss" it does mean they actually lose money, just that they don't get enough profit from it to make it worth it.

    And you know because it's MS they've never be able to fix all the exploitable (security) holes in the XBox.
  • Limited RAM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:36AM (#6423545)
    64MB is a problem too, yes you can solder on another 64MB if you're skilled enough. But that's a lowly amount of RAM by modern standards.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:37AM (#6423551) Homepage
    Don't troll.

    The fact of the matter is that an XBox has
    TV-out and excellent graphics and sound cababilities.

    Walmart machines do not.

    People want to use the XBox as a multimedia center for their living room. A quote from another article related to this one (I refuse to read NYT) said something along the lines of, "the XBox looks excellent next to a TV in your living room, it's more silent than a typical PC, and its small form-factor make it perfect. Not exactly what Bill Gates had envisioned."
  • To claim that they are doing it for price is a bit off. The people do it so that they can feel in some way they have gotten away with something. They are told that they shouldn't, then they do, and they gain bragging rights. They gain a tiny amount of control in a world that has little of it for the average perosn - they are briefly a David to the Goliath of Microsoft. The money isn't an issue.

    True, to get a PIII 733, a NVidia graphics card, etc etc for $200 is a good deal at first glance I suppose.
    Were I in the States, I could go to pricewatch and order me up some parts.
    PIII 733 by itself is $67, you figure you still need a motherboard and case, that is easily another $80 at least, and then you need the graphics card...

    But looking again, you can get a PIII 1G and the motherboard as a combo for $65.
    You can get a case for about $30. You can get the video card for about $80.
    So a better system for cheaper... and the thing is, that is only if you are still looking for the PIII, if you stepped up to an Athlon XP, you would then get far more processing power, and you would only be spending a little more.

    Granted, that doesn't help you if you have no clue how to put together a system, and you only have $200... but I have a feeling the type of person willing to hack a perfectly good game system, and then run Linux on it, is going to be able to put together a computer system on their own.

    In the end, I think the monetary reasons for hacking are non-existant, aside from those bad at math.
    It is the fun factor and the thumb-your-nose-at-MS factor.
  • by Greyjack (24290) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:43AM (#6423572) Homepage
    If all you want is a cheap PC, just get this [walmart.com] instead. Useable PC for $200, including keyboard, mouse, & speakers. Hell, they'll even ship you one with Linux (Lycoris) on it for the same price.

    Granted, it doesn't quite have the same graphics horsepower, but hey, it's cheap!

  • Reality Czech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Asprin (545477) <gsarnold@3.14yahoo.com minus pi> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:43AM (#6423573) Homepage Journal

    They are requesting respect for their innovations, huh?

    IIRC, the whole idea was to take existing off-the-shelf PC parts that used an existing PC architecture and put them in a box that could easily mass produced with a very short time-to-market and an OS that allowed existing developers to leverage their existing skills.

    Hmmm... That sounds familiar... now where have I heard that before?

    Oh, of course! That's what made BG a gazillionaire in the first place! [about.com]

    I'm not against MS wanting to control a closed platform they developed, but I am insulted by their insistance that this is an IP issue. It's not an IP issue, it's a PP (physical property) issue. If they don't like people voiding the warranties on their hardware, they should have made their CDs spin backwards like Nintendo.

  • Re:Respect ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sespindola (542253) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:45AM (#6423576)
    Amen.

    IANAL, but it seems to me that the lobbying efforts that companies throughout the world are making in order to save their tecnically inept asses, is sending "fair use" down the drain.

    Imagine you buy a Ford, and is stops in the middle of nowhere. And you can't even touch the engine because it could be seen as "modding" it.

    Hold on people, we are about to face some rough corporate times.

  • Form Factor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:45AM (#6423579) Homepage Journal
    its a bit more then 'because I can'.

    The Xbox is designed to 'fit in' to the entertainment center..

    Getting a pc small enough to 'fit in' would cost more then the average white box..

    And if its JUST for use for video/dvd.. why bother with building something that sticks out like a sore thumb anyway
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:49AM (#6423592) Homepage Journal
    Then, there's also the point that a good number of people who are buying it for hackery purposes are also going to go and buy X-Box licensed games. Why not; you've got the console anyway and geeks like games.

    This hard-nosed approach is a clever marketing move to play you X-Box hackers for rubes, I think. Not that it's like it's a bad thing to be taken advantage of this way; X-Box has a superior lineup of games and better hardware than the other systems out there anyway.

  • by CrazyJim0 (324487) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:55AM (#6423610)
    Sounds like a monopoly trying to flood the market with cheaper goods to kill off the competition.

    Its actually the #1 reason monopolies should be controlled.

    Is anyone awake out there, or have we lost our rights?
  • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @10:56AM (#6423615)
    Ok, build me a $180 computer.

    It must have at least:
    733MHz PIII
    5.1 channel surround sound audio
    GeForce 3 graphics
    64 MB RAM
    8/10 GB HD
    4 USB ports
    TV out and support for HDTV
    Ethernet jack
    DVD-ROM
    1 controller
    2 games

    I'll ignore the other parts of a computer (such as the power supply) as I'm sure you'll factor those into your equation.

    Now, assuming you can find a machine with all of those components for $180, let me know how well it plays games, DVDs, etc. Will it play games with the graphical qualities of Halo, JSRF, or Brute Force? Will I be able to hear such games in 5.1 surround sound? Can I watch DVDs on this machine with my HDTV (after some hacks to enable progressive-scan)? Will the machine be able to pump out DTS surround signals to my reciever like the XBOX can?

    I'm not saying you can't build a decent media computer for cheap, but I hardly think you should discount the power and capabilities (both before and after hacking) of the XBOX.
  • by HisMother (413313) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:02AM (#6423631)
    > Microsoft is a company passionate about innovation and creativity
    Yep, sure. As long as their customers aren't being innovative or creative, they're cool. Big Bro... I mean Microsoft retains that right for himself alone.
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:09AM (#6423649)
    "We are also very committed to respect for others' intellectual property and we request the same respect applied to our innovations.'" Yea, we've seen some _Very_ good examples of that in the past...
    I am wondering what they think is so innovative about the X-Box? It's just a PC with chip developed by Intel, a motherboard and graphics processor developed by NVidia and piss-poor security developed by god-knows-who. It is the cheapest possible way for them to get into the market. I honestly can't think of a single thing they've done that could be labelled "innovative".
  • uhm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FunkyELF (609131) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:22AM (#6423699)
    No PCI slots, why would you need one? You have ethernet and audio. Why would anyone upgrade their video drivers for linux anyway...anyone actually play tuxracer? USB ports...it has 4, all of the controllers are misshaped USB controllers. All you need is one adapter and a hub and you're all set.

    Ok, so you can't upgrade the RAM, but it has all a 733MHz needs. You think all this limits the usefulness of the XBox...I think its the best thing that ever happened to linux, no hardware compatability issues for xboxlinux because everyone that runs it has the same hardware. Its cheaper than web_tv. People are in the process of turning the xbox into a PVR. I would rather use my xbox on the TV than any other device, its perfect for it...almost like it was made for it or something.
  • by Troed (102527) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:23AM (#6423705) Homepage Journal
    Yes. People who _work_ with analyzing these kind of things say that Microsoft lost money on the xbox back when it was $299. Parts have gotten cheaper (but not by much since they're special made now when they're old). Best estimates say that MS is still losing ~$100 on every Xbox.

    You could probably dig up a few links yourself if you're really interested.

    (There's also a popular myth saying _everything_ loses money on the hardware and gain it back on the software. It's wrong. Sony and Nintendo are both making money on the hardware as well)
  • by jakupovic (258719) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:27AM (#6423717)
    Lest you forget ...
    "Some advocates, however, say that while software piracy is illegal and morally offensive, the mere act of modifying hardware should not be illegal. "The most important dimension of this debate from our view is that
    people should have the right to tinker with the stuff that they own, " said Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties group in San Francisco."
  • Re:*sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FunkyELF (609131) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:34AM (#6423751)
    Agreed...I love my xbox. I love streaming divx from my PC to my xbox in the living room. I love playing emulators on it. I love borrowing games for 10 minutes and ripping them to the 120Gb HD that I put in it. I love how jealous everyone is of my xbox. I think its an awesome bargan for all of that, but everyone is saying $180 without including the price of the modchipo. Also....I don't think this graphics issue is completely valid for one reason alone. Yes is has awesome graphics on the TV but you have to realize that it is running at TV resolution. I'm sure my Geforce2 Ultra would kick its ass in comparable games if I ran it at 640x480 (which AFAIK is more than TV)
  • by UnkyHerb (12862) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:40AM (#6423780)
    Everyone always complains how Microsoft loses money on their xbox's and how their plan was to make the money off of the software. That's great but who cares what was in their plan, it's hardware, I'll do what I want with it. If they aren't making money, then maybe they should charge $500 for a box and make even less money. Who really cares what their plan is?
  • by rnd() (118781) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:48AM (#6423818) Homepage
    I think it's silly to expect a $300 PC that is being marketed as a server to be designed for a top-end video subsystem.
  • by Tidal Flame (658452) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:50AM (#6423832) Homepage
    Good point, but, Live can detect modified hardware and ban a system from the service. I imagine this could be bypassed too, but at least it's not as easy as it could be to cheat on Live.
  • Re:Respect ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:51AM (#6423835)
    It did make sense until the arrival of the internet.

    Once a console's copy protection has been busted and the method is easy, then it's game over. See Dreamcast for an example of that.
  • by Tidal Flame (658452) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:56AM (#6423853) Homepage
    Three words: Opening the XBox It's a book about, basically, all the decisions Microsoft made during the time they were working on the XBox. If that doesn't alleivate your doubt, I don't think anything will.
  • by Blackknight (25168) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @12:16PM (#6423924) Homepage
    I will respect their IP rights. I don't pirate MS software or anybody's else's software.

    However, MS has to respect that once you buy something, you have the right to do whatever you want with it. If I want to buy an Xbox and use it as a door stop, that's my right.

  • Prediction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BillsPetMonkey (654200) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @12:20PM (#6423936)
    This is another example of giantkiller technologies like XML , P2P and Linux. The battle lines are still being drawn, but the core message is the same - businesses have to adapt to the new model, because it's not going away. Notice how PS2 modders have been pre-empted with PS2 Linux? That was no accident. That was just smart thinking from Sony (albeit rare). Wait until XBox sales start flagging, and watch the reins come off the modding community. I'm sure even Microsoft's CEO is capable of some smart thinking.
  • Re:Respect ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @12:25PM (#6423956)
    don't think this is some new business strategy that MS through the years, this is standard practice, and it works for gaming systems (otherwise all of the gaming companies would be out of business by now)

    The main difference is that older gaming systems had hardware that was either an underpowered toy, or totally incompatible with any software, or both. It was intrinsically useless for most other purposes.

    Microsoft may have made a mistake by boxing up a standard PC that can run off-the-shelf software, selling it below cost, and then trying to lock it up with a flimsy electronic scheme. I realize that they were trying to leverage PC game software for their platform, but there are downsides to that approach that they have to live with now.

  • by rilister (316428) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @12:27PM (#6423965)
    I'll bite: How about the Securities and Exchange Commision? Do they count?

    From http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/29171 .html

    "...new figures filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the USA revealing that in the three months leading up to the end of December (2002), it lost $348 million on its Xbox division, on revenues of $1.28 billion."

    that's in THREE months - i.e. $1.4 billion lost annually. I realise that doesn't prove they lose per unit sold, but if they are making a profit, that's a staggering amount to be paying for payroll, R&D etc.

    in contrast, this is about quarter of the operating profit made from selling Windows over the same period - so it is verging on a significant loss, even for MS.

    The loss-per-unit figures are usually speculation, mainly because there's no reason on earth MS would discuss it's BOM cost or individual components with anyone else. However, serious analysts believe that MS loses about $150 per box e.g.:

    http://www.redherring.com/insider/2002/0624/xbox 06 2402.html

    "The costs of goods for every Xbox amount to $325, according to the source. That means that Microsoft is currently losing at least $150 on every box, and probably more due to shipping, advertising, development overhead, and return costs. Microsoft sells the box wholesale to retailers for $175. Microsoft would have to sell a lot more than three games apiece to break even.

    By contrast, Sony is believed to be losing only a small amount of money on the PlayStation 2, which costs an estimated $185 to manufacture."

    either way, it ain't a money spinner.

  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shadowbearer (554144) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @12:37PM (#6424012) Homepage Journal
    "I honestly can't think of a single thing they've done that could be labelled "innovative"."

    Yeah, they didn't put MS Bob or Clippy on the Xbox...

    SB
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:32PM (#6424235) Journal
    People always miss the point on retail sales.

    Ever notice how books top the bestseller list before they can be bought by the public? You know why? Because the people who BUY books are not consumers: They are bookstores.

    Same goes with the Xbox. Microsoft sells to electronics stores. If an Xbox is in the store, they've sold it already. If an Xbox game is in the store, it's already been sold.

    Microsoft doesn't care if the consumer buys more games, they just care if the retail store buys more games. Admittedly they are connected, but you have to remember that it is possible for MS to break even on a product that is ONLY bought by the retail chains, and never sold to a single person. Indeed, they can make a very nice profit if the hype is effective.
  • by Kwil (53679) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:42PM (#6424273)
    Do you blame the hackers, or do you blame the people who made the games without thinking about the hackers?
  • by jidar (83795) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:49PM (#6424300)
    The majority of Xbox linux users -also- buy Xbox software. I know that's how I do it. Splinter Cell and Halo are awesome.. so is Linux.
    The way I see it, I'm just a legitimate customer who found some uses for his hardware in addition to what the manufacturer intended.
  • by Interested Spectator (670344) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:53PM (#6424314) Homepage
    My thought is don't blame anyone. Just don't give them your money if they don't provide a good service/product. Vote with your money!
  • Re:Umm @ Wal-Mart? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:01PM (#6424345)
    you justify theft in order to obtain a product for a lower price.
    Which bit am I missing here? If I buy and pay for an Xbox with my own money, and I run Free software on it, where exactly does theft come into it?
  • Re:Respect ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maul (83993) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:22PM (#6424441) Journal
    At launch (and up until recently IIRC), Sony WAS selling the PS2 at a loss.

    The difference is that the PS2 has sold more games.

    I don't personally believe that the PS2 has the _best_ game lineup, but it seems to be the most popular.

    Selling the console at a loss is OK if you end up on top of game sales.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:44PM (#6424544)
    Modding the X-Box to bypass game security is clearly a violation of the DMCA. Even if you are running unauthorized third-party games rather than illegal copies, you are still using Microsoft's Intellectual Property contrary to the software lisence that was granted with the sale of the unit.
    Not only is this hypothetical "software license" BS (I don't believe you "agree" to any "license" when you buy an X-Box), but usually the modchips completely override MS's code.
  • Re:Respect ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mathonwy (160184) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:45PM (#6424549)
    let's just say that the odds of the XBox making them money is quite low.

    Ahh, but there's the trick. It doesn't HAVE to make them money right now. This is microsoft we're talking about. They can afford to take a hit. (Heck, if they wanted to, they could probably afford to just GIVE every household in the united states an XBox) Making money would be nice for them right now, but that's more of a side bonus. The main thing they need to do is cost their competitors (Sony/nintendo/etc) market share. Even if they have to sell at a loss for a while to do that, they can probably afford to. And having a complete monopoly on household gaming would almost certainly be worth that kind of investment....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:52PM (#6424572)
    "Where else can you get a PIII-733 with graphics and audio for $180?"

    Damn, I can do better with PriceWatch:

    $64 Soyo M7IWM/L Motherboard, Celeron 1GHz CPU
    $56 MGS Powered by ATI RADEON 7500 128MB SDRAM
    w/TV-Out+DVI AGP 4X/2X
    $20 MID ATX Turbo CASE W/ 230W ATX POWER SUPPLY
    ---
    $130

    Now add this $32 hotswapable 20 gig HD I found at HTC Net Store and for about the same price, you get a hard drive.

    Now, out of the U.S., this will be hard to do, but if you live in the Imperial Homeland, the argument that modding your XBox is cheaper than building your own PC does not fry.

    Note: I did not include links for two reasons: 1) every changes so fast, they would probably dead or misleading by the time you read this and 2), I ain't a sales person. Do your own searching.
  • Re:Reality Czech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmaxwell (43234) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @03:25PM (#6424688)
    What if there is a EULA that you agree to when you open the plastic case?

    Nonsense. I notice that the business conservatives here are all about respecting property rights UNLESS it is an individual's property rights. EULAs are absolute horseshit. I sign a notarized contract that's one thing. If I see a little piece of paper fall out of a used X-Box I bought off someone, I'm going to use it to make an airplane or light a fireplace. Actually, that goes double for something I pay real money for in a retail establishment.

    That little piece of plastic and cheap electronics is my physical property. If I hack it to run Linux, that is none of Bill Gates' business. If he thinks its his business he can blow me. Running Linux has nothing to do with pirating games or cheating on X-Box Live. It does screw with MS' business model but I couldn't give a flying fuck. That's their problem. The phrase "business model" is not a holy sacrement. It entitles to them to nothing.

    MS put out a PC with an integrated motherboard and lousy lockout protection and then sold it at a loss. None of this obligates an X-Box owner to anything except not to steal software or cheat on-line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2003 @04:06PM (#6424832)
    "Selling of modded X-Boxes is clearly an abuse of Microsoft's Trademark."

    Hardly. I can buy a Chevy Corvette, mod the crap out of it and sell it as "Bill's Modded Corvettes". Chevy couldn't care less. Why does MS get a different set of laws than anybody else?

    "you are still using Microsoft's Intellectual Property contrary to the software lisence that was granted with the sale of the unit."

    There is no license granted or implied with the sale of a piece of hardware. I own an XBOX, and I've looked. I bought one, I never agreed to anything when I bought it. I never agreed to anything when I started it up. You may imagine there is one, but I may also imagine I am the prince of persia, too.

    " That's completely legit, especially if you are essentially just enabling the PC industry standard parts."

    If you divide that line any further we won't be able to see it. You're saying there are certain parts in an X-BOX that I can do with what I want, there are others that I can't. Nobody seems to have this inventory. I suggest the moment you say that there are significant portions of the XBOX that are non-proprietary that you can't tell me that I can't use the box for whatever I damned well please.

    Remember, just because MS (or Sony, or Nintendo, or GM, or Xerox, or Apple, or ANYBODY) doesn't like it doesn't make it illegal. It doesn't make it a violation of copyright or DMCA. It just means that a lot of big companies have a short-sighted board up their ass that makes them act contrary to their own long-term interests.
  • by Laur (673497) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @04:24PM (#6424903)
    Interesting? Informative? No, how about incorrect.

    Selling of modded X-Boxes is clearly an abuse of Microsoft's Trademark.

    So if I put a new engine in my Ford truck and sell it I'm violating Ford's trademark? No. Building your own game console and calling it an XBox would violate Microsoft's trademark. Selling a used item, in original condition or no, does not in any way violate the original manufacture's trademark.

    Modding the X-Box to bypass game security is clearly a violation of the DMCA. Even if you are running unauthorized third-party games rather than illegal copies, you are still using Microsoft's Intellectual Property contrary to the software lisence that was granted with the sale of the unit.

    You do know that there are several boot ROMs for the XBox which use no Microsoft code whatsoever don't you? Also, the latest hack doesn't ever require flashing your ROM, just using a special font file. Running pirated games is certainly illegal. Running 3rd party games or Linux should not be. Is using these hacks in violation of the DMCA? Maybe, maybe not. That is for the courts to decide, not you or me. BTW, I know of no software license you agree to when purchasing an XBox. Microsoft's Xbox firmare is covered under copyright law, not licensing. You are correct that using this code in another boot ROM is illegal, but under copyright law, not DMCA.

  • Re:Respect ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Simon Brooke (45012) * <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @06:29PM (#6425273) Homepage Journal
    does anyone seriously believe that enough people are going to buy an XBox and use it for non gaming purposes to actually hurt M$ financially ?.

    Possibly.

    Remember that XBox security is in effect a precursor to MS' proposed new 'trusted platform [trustedcomputing.org]', the next generation of their OS and of their business model. If what is happening here is that we are developing a cadre of skilled reverse engineers who can find their way around and through MS' security schemes, then they will not be able to lock down the next generation of PCs as they propose, and it's essentially game over for them.

    Remember, any business, however big, can come crashing down if the economic niche that it filled disappears. Linux will take away the market for closed proprietary operating systems. Other initiatives, mostly Open Source ones, will erode the market for closed proprietary office software. The same dynamics which made Microsoft dominant in the first place can quickly make them irrelevent.

    Microsoft know this and their current strategy to avoid it is to evolve a technical and legal wall around the hardware, so that it's impossible to get 'untrusted' (read 'open source') software to run on it. The XBox hackers, by demonstrating to the world that this does not work, are undermining Microsoft's new fortress. And it's particularly delightful that Microsoft gave them the tools to do it.

    Go XBox hackers! Develop and hone your skills. The real test is yet to come, but I have faith in you...

  • by August_zero (654282) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @06:54PM (#6425340)
    Hacking AN X-Box hurts no-one other than a convicted monopoly company that's using it's extreme wealth to prop up a product that would have gone down the drain by now if it had come from anyone else a 'la dreamcast.

    To be honest, I don't think that the modding is really even hurting MS. They expected to take it up the pooper so to speak on the x-box, and thats what they are getting.

    I think blaming moders for loses is in the same league as the RIAA blaming piracy for all of the recording industries ills; It gives them something they can tell the stock holders to explain why the industry has had less than perfect performance.

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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