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Microsoft

Microsoft Shuts Down Lik Sang 814

Posted by timothy
from the real-life-consequences dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has taken legal action, shutting down popular import gaming site Lik Sang for distributing X-box mod chips. Lik Sang is a popular import gaming site based out of Hong Kong. The full article (MSNBC) can be found here." Several people have pointed to the same story on news.com.
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Microsoft Shuts Down Lik Sang

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  • Abuse of power? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gleffler (540281) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:36PM (#4381221) Journal
    So MS can shut down an entire company for selling one product they don't like (selling a mod chip is not illegal where Liksang is located) by slapping them with a legal action?

    It just goes to show you how abusive MS is, as if you needed any more evidence.
    • "So MS can shut down an entire company for selling one product they don't like (selling a mod chip is not illegal where Liksang is located) by slapping them with a legal action?"

      Yes, but Lik-Sang was selling the chip in jurisdictions where it was illegal.

    • Re:Abuse of power? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by supabeast! (84658) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:26PM (#4381732)
      "It just goes to show you how abusive MS is, as if you needed any more evidence."

      Not so much that MS is abusive, more that the laws are easily abused.
    • Re:Abuse of power? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chundra (189402)
      selling a mod chip is not illegal where Liksang is located

      I'm not so sure about this. Lik Sang was basically a stripped down, overpriced, web version of the stuff you can buy at a place in Hong Kong called the Golden Center (in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon). The Golden Center is this run down, crappy building full of mostly small shops that sell everything from "legit" electronics and software, to rom copiers, modchips, "pirated" software, etc. etc. Well, see... these guys get busted *all* the time. When I lived out there in the 80s and early-mid 90s there were weekly raids on shops there (a lot of this was started my Microsoft even back then, especially when Bill Gates went out to give some talk at HKUST or something). So the HK cops come in and seize a bunch of stuff, and the shop gets closed. Well, a week later there's another shop there run by some other guy, selling the same stuff. The guys who got busted open up another shop maybe on the other side of the Golden Center with a different name and are back in business in maybe two weeks.
      I used to go to this one guy who was busted like 20 times when I lived there. The shop name was something like "Wong's Brother", then "Wong's", then "Wong Import Export Ltd", then "Wong's Little Brother" etc. Now here's the cool part. Most of these shops don't keep all their stock in the shop or in one place. So even if they seize a store full, they still have a lot of their goods on hand elsewhere. Anyway...the point is is that this stuff is illegal in HK, but it's impossible to enforce it. Rest assured, Lik Sang freaks...Lik Sang will be back but maybe called something else.
  • by EvilAlien (133134) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:36PM (#4381222) Journal
    I wonder if this is viewed as a rightful exercising of intellectual property rights or more fodder for anti-trust from the point of view of the Justice Department?

    Mod chips, legal issues aside, are one of the "value adds" of the console market. Cracking down on this will drive Microsofts target audience away. Perhaps they've shot themselves in the foot with this.

    • I have a feeling this would depend on whether you are talking about the Clinton DoJ or the Bush the Younger DoJ. I think the present administration is generally less keen on the Sherman Act than the previous administration.

      I think Microsoft's recent increase in agression is a sign that they think so too.

      I leave it up to you whether that is a good thing or not.
      • FYI, it was announced today that Charles James, current head of AntiTrust division at DoJ, and who crafted the sell-out settlement, is resigning to become Cheveron's general counsel. Article is here [com.com].
    • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:48PM (#4381363)
      "Mod chips, legal issues aside, are one of the "value adds" of the console market... Perhaps they've shot themselves in the foot with this."

      I'd agree with this comment except MS needs to sell 4 games to make up for the loss they take on each system. If people buy XBOXes but don't buy games for them (i.e. they buy them to install Linux on so they can tap tap tap at it all day), then MS doesn't want their business. They lose.

      If MS believed that purchase of an XBOX because it has a mod chip would also mean sales of games, I'm sure they'd go for it. I can certainly understand their concern though, since their lineup of games isn't very strong right now.

      In other words, there isn't much value in the games today, but they need to move the games in order for this whole venture to be worthwhile.
    • Mod chips are not "Value adds".

      Value adds are the features inherant to the system as designed. It just so happens that the xbox is a very "value added" system inherantly.

      DVD, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hard Disk, 4 Controllers, Ethernet, Fast Video, 64 megs of ram, HDTV support and many other XBOX features give it VALUE over other competing products and make it wanted and valued by many.

      The devaluation is at the software and game level. Is Developer X going to spend 5 million making a game that can be pirated with ease because someone can goto lik-sang.com and get a modchip? NOooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      Microsoft is protecting the value of the millions of units sold. Microsoft is protecting the rights of the licensees, distributors, developers and contributors of the xbox.

      What is the value of hacking a system to use it for purposes of which it isn't intended or designed for and why can't microsoft legally fight to protect its intended and protected interests?

      Even though i modded my dreamcast and could play pirated games, i didn't consider this a value add. For one, i couldn't read the japanese games and often times it wasn't worth the effort and for pirated games they were ripped, chunked, slow and missing features.

      After my experimentation with "mod chips" it just wasn't worth it, and personally i see the value in the xbox of being a superb platform to begin with so i'm anxiously waiting to buy the excellent games that will come out.

      As for liksang, i'm sure they were doing other things to get shutdown and i'm sure Sony, Sega and Nintendo have always wished they had to balls or $$$$ to do it themselves....

      it was the "value add" of the modchips and ripped DC games that ended the life of that console. (and the ps2.. but sega cited the loss of software sales because of rampant piracy and loss of developers because of rampant piracy to be a big factor)
      • What is the value of hacking a system to use it for purposes of which it isn't intended or designed for...

        To use it for purposes of which it isn't intended, obviously. Why ask the question when you have the answer in your question?

        ...and why can't microsoft legally fight to protect its intended and protected interests?

        Because once they sell you the product, they have no legal rights to it anymore. BTW, what's a "protected" interest? That means nothing to me. I'm currently using an old Western Digital hard drive as a doorstop -- does that mean WD has the right to come and force me legally to not use their product in this unintended way?

      • by !ramirez (106823) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:13PM (#4381602)
        Just because you're a happy user, content to use your Xbox in whatever way Microsoft sees fit for you to do so, doesn't mean that everyone else on the planet shares your views. If I buy an Xbox, take it home, and decide to do something else with the equipment, that's my right, and my choice. As long as I am not unduly and tortiously interfering with the rights of others (people, not corporations), Microsoft has no recourse, period, end of story.

        Selling Xbox mod chips is *exactly* like having a set of lockpicking equipment. Locks are meant to keep people out of areas they don't belong in; same goes for the 'security hardware' on the Xbox. You don't see the 5-0 arresting those guys that come and get your keys out of your locked car, do you?

        Microsoft basically is using it's influence to crush out of existence what they don't like. Gee, who'd have thought they'd do that.
      • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:21PM (#4381680)
        If you modded your dreamcast you totally wasted your time--the thing could play ISOs out of the box.

        If you thing Sony and Nintendo didn't have the cash to shutdown Lik-Sang, well, there's a second reason for me to think you're an idiot. They didn't shutdown Lik-Sang because they realized people don't like soldering crap to their expensive consoles, and there really wasn't a big effect on piracy here. Microsoft just went after them because they're obstinate bastards who want to defeat the linux xbox hackers at all cost. Both the hackers and Microsoft are motivated by ideology--linux on Xbox is without value to hackers and without cost to Microsoft--hell, Sony even sells linux kits to encourage people to develop ps2 development skills.

        Yeah, modchips sure ruined the life of PS2 and PS1 ... probably the most successful consoles ever.

        Bottom line, the hardware belongs to however buys it, not whoever sells it. That's what "buying stuff" means.

      • by Hrothgar The Great (36761) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:21PM (#4381683) Journal
        I love your "I don't use it so it should be illegal" attitude. Especially this:

        For one, i couldn't read the japanese games and often times it wasn't worth the effort

        Well, guess what, I can't read Japanese either, but I have enjoyed many games from that country on my modded PS2 such as Sexy Parodius, Twinbee Deluxe Pack, Salamander Deluxe Pack, Gradius Gaiden. I also just happened to purchase Ikaruga for my Dreamcast. These are all shooters - and there is no language barrier for pure twitch action like that.

        Konami's games have always been popular here, but we didn't get any of those. So I adapted my system so that it would do what I wanted it to do. I see no harm in that, and there is not a thing about it that breaks any law aside from (possibly) the DMCA additions to US Copyright Law.

        You know why people have to import? Because the console manufacturers maintain a tight reign on what is published on their console. They are able to do so because it is nigh impossible to create working distributable software without their permission, and even if you could, you could possibly be in violation of patents or sued under the DMCA (for bypassing methods of protection).

        What it boils down to is that certain companies are not allowed to translate their games onto U.S. systems, even if they are willing to spend the money, because the hardware manufacturer is afraid that that title will make their system look bad. That's bullshit. Take a look at the PS2 as a great example - modchips appeared within a small number of months of the console's release allowing pirate games to be played, but NO ONE made a chip allowing imports until this year! It was a much more difficult process... Now why is that?

        I want to play the games I want to play. If I am not able to do so, I will pass the console by, plain and simple.
  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:36PM (#4381229) Homepage
    When I said that its about them telling me what to do with my property??

    Many people yelled that it was just an upgrande and M$ was not telling me what to do with **MY** hardware. Well bite me, I knew M$ would prove me right.

    I dont own an X-box, I dont own a mod chip, but M$ continues with the attitude that you will use this the way we want you to use this, you will not dieveate at all from our buisness plan or we will label you a pirate and sue your sorry butt..

    • Not only tell Microsoft that. Sony hates modders too. Nintendo hates modders as well.

      Instead of just blaming Microsoft (the easy way), why not blame the other console corps as well? Blaming MS might be easy, but in console-country they aren't the only ones trying to keep hackers away from their so-called IP.

      *note: I hate Microsoft like the next guy. I have a MS free zone at home.

      PS: the M$ thing is old, give it a rest. I'm serious. Stop that. You will be taken more seriously if you refer to things by their real names/abbreviations. The Co$ is of course the exception of the rule. :)

  • m$ofty (Score:3, Funny)

    by chef_raekwon (411401) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:38PM (#4381241) Homepage
    its a good thing they are sponsoring the Ad on this page, tho...makes em look good ........
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rppp01 (236599) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:39PM (#4381254) Homepage
    I mean, honestly, once I purchase the system, isn't it mine to do with as I please? I know several people who have an X-Box, and have mod'ed the system, dropped in a bigger hdd, and then put their own games on it to increase the performance of the game. Big deal. They own the hardware, and I can't remember having to accept any EULA in order to game on the thing.

    Microsoft has to realize, that if they want to prevent people from hacking their systems, or OS or whatever, they need to ensure that it is more secure, instead of doing something as stupid as shutting down a site. I could just go on IRC and find a new place to get some chips, if I wanted. Oh, and those chips, once the hardware is flashed, you can take them out and give them to the next person anyways.
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      The problem isn't really what you do with youre x-box. I can only speak for dutch law but if you use it as a toaster good luck. If you somehow figure out how to solder that thing to perform funtion X then that is fine. MS will prob throw a hissy fit but any judge will laught them out of court, in the netherlands.

      This is on the simple principle that you buy it you own it that applies to all hardware. So how can MS sue a HK company? I am not sure but it might be similar in reasoning to this.

      In holland we can only get our drivers license for car and motor cycles at 18. However at 16 you are allowed to start driving a moped. Basiclly a motor limited to 50cc displacement.

      It is illegal to sell a moped with more then 50cc displacement and in fact all mopeds are limited when they are imported to further reduce the power. Now the odd thing is that it is illegal to sell the mopeds with this reducement removed. Yet I got mine years ago straight from the shop without the reducer. They just didn't sell me it without it. They just removed it after the sale had been completed. Considering that I have been stopped and checked by the police it is not illegal to drive a moped without the reducer as well.

      Odder still are upgrade kits designed to up the displacement. You may not sell them as kits or install them as kits. But the parts can be sold.

      How this does all relate to X-box vs lik-sang. I think MS has taken it for granted that people will mod their boxen. This has always been done but by such a small number that they basically don't give a damn. Lik-sang however makes this modding way to easy and profits from it as well. Just as the police didn't arrest me for having a moped wich could go a little bit faster then intended but does go up against people who openly break the law.

      Guys running linux on x-box ain't a threat. lik-sang is. I just find it odd that lik-sang even bothered if they can be shutdown this easily. Surely there is more money selling that light for the GBA?

  • This seems confusing, the xbox has been our since April or so this year, and they are just taking action now?

    Besides what has Microsoft got to loose, I mean the people who installed the modchip are using it so they can use Linux on it.

    Oh

    We would want any friendly competition now would we, even on Microsoft proprietary products.

    Medevo
    • It allows them to dump virtually ANY media they put into the XBox to dump it to it's HD to be used later. You can literally go to the store and rent an XBox game and rip it right to the XBox's HD for either further use, or to be moved over to a server to be burned.

      XBox is destroying the console industry.

      • This is not an original problem. Since the Playstation where consoles use that same media as computers, people have been copying games and playing them using a modchip of some kind. Did Sony stop making the Playstation? No. In fact they were more concerned with a Playstation game emulator that runs on windows. It might just be that if Sony had sold you a PS then they had got your money but I believe that Sony realized with any product there will people that will try to get something for nothing, and that's a fact of life. Sony may or may not have sued companies that made modchips, but that irrelevant as with this, the modchip is being used for stuff other then piracy, and any attempts to do so should be encouraged, but stamped into the "DESTROYED BY MICROSOFT" list.

        Medevo
  • by suman28 (558822) <`suman28' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:39PM (#4381258)
    This is very typical of Micro$oft. Here is a link in the story that points to backtracking on their pledge [com.com] not to crack down on mod-chips.
  • by Lazarus_Bitmap (593726) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:39PM (#4381259)

    The real goal: MS produces their own Mod chip that only allows you to install WinXP and with a complementary copy of a new improved MS BOB.

    Linux installs are automatically reformated.

    Why else would they be looking to hire mod chippers and shut down comptetitors?

    $profit!
  • by yeoua (86835)
    Pretty cute that right under the post, the ad I got was for MS VS .net
  • by Saeculorum (547931) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:39PM (#4381264)
    How is China going to allow this? For some reason, I don't think they're very keen on allowing Microsoft to shut down an enterprise in their jurisdiction, especially with being rather anti-IP.
    • Well the article (As far as i can see) doesnt say the company has been shut down - only the web site. Still, it stinks - how far can a corporation actually reach in the world today?
    • by Quikah (14419) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:51PM (#4381396)
      If they want to be in the WTO they will allow it.
    • It's rather difficult to say, I think, how China would react. I wouldn't say China and Hong Kong are anti-IP, but rather, they simply don't often bother to respect US copyright law. They don't see any benefit to doing so.

      And, regarding the equations in the subject, it's more like, Hong Kong ~= China. China's still a totalitarian nation, although no longer quite a dictatorship. And the government is Communist, very strong on regulation, and not much on individual liberties. Communism doesn't just oppose the idea of Intellectual Property, it opposes all concepts of Individual Property.

      And then there's Hong Kong. Very strong capitalist economy under British rule. Since the Chinese took control, Beijing's been trying a one-government-two-systems approach, which has sorta-kinda-maybe-not-really worked. The national government is continually pushing regulations, and the local folks in Hong Kong, highly accustomed to running their own show, are continually chafing at those regulations.

      So, the Chinese government could decide it's not in their interest to step in on this 'Hong Kong' issue, not worthy of their attention. Or they could decide that this guy's overstepped his bounds, and try to have him shut down. (I doubt this would go over well with other Hong Kong business owners, but public opinion has never been something they've been extremely sensitive about.) Or, they could decide that they don't want the Westerners from Microsoft poking their noses in.

      Very, very tough to say.
  • by MongooseCN (139203) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:41PM (#4381283) Homepage
    Microsoft attorneys were unavailable to explain the exact nature of the legal action.

    Hmmm... Did MS use real legal action to shut them down, even when they were outside the US? Or is there some "monetary action" going on here...
  • by Tsali (594389) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:41PM (#4381288)
    haiku

    add architecture
    without the borg's consent?
    enlist the lawyers.

    \haiku
  • by Iguanaphobic (31670) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:42PM (#4381293)
    Hmmm... Sony allows mod chips, stock goes up. Microsoft doesn't allow modchips, stock goes down. Go get 'em Microsoft!!

    Related Quotes
    Quotes delayed 20+ minutes

    MICROSOFT CORP MSFT 44.94 -0.67
    SONY CORP ADR SNE 40.84 0.18

    • I seriously doubt that MS shutting down a mod chip store effects their stock in any form.

      And screw sony too. Anyone that own's one of their DVD players knows about the infamous C:13 error that you get after about a year of usage. Thousands of consumers have this problem and Sony's only answer is to fix it for a mere 179 bucks.

      If you're having the problem, you can try to fix it here [ben-morris.net]

    • you sure about that? (Score:3, Informative)

      by martissimo (515886)
      Sony slaps PS2 chippers [reviewer.co.uk]

      that doesnt read like they are somebody who "allows mod chips"
  • It's one thing to restrict the sales of bullets and guns to infants, but mod chips aren't exactly something which is a danger to society. What are they used for? Modifications to behaviour of a device.

    Unless there was a market force demanding it, they wouldn't sell well enough that people would keep buying them. See also region free DVD players. They're just as popular now as ever, because people want the freedom in their products.

    And that doesn't take into account the fact that once I buy something, it's mine. I own it, I do with it as I please. If I want to rip the top off my Xbox, shit in it, and then grow a plant out of that moist, fertile soil -- that's my business. Microsoft has as much business stopping the sales of mod chips as they do teaching mothers how to breastfeed.
  • Perhaps the best fight-back method would be to make the instructions for creating mod-chips more publicly available. In this case, every little shop would eventually proliferate them, and it would become too difficult to chase everyone down.

    Of course, in a business sense this is a really bad idea, as it just creates competition. But in a hardware-modders right-to-change-my-property, fight the machine sense it would be nice.
  • by -=OmegaMan=- (151970) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:43PM (#4381311)
    Easybuy [easybuy2000.com].

    For now, at least.

    Note: I have no affiliation with LikSang, or EasyBuy - they're just pretty similar. LikSang had a larger variety of video-game oriented products, but EasyBuy has most of the more popular modchips as well.
  • by Winterblink (575267) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:43PM (#4381312) Homepage
    I'm already reading stuff on here from users about how MS is now telling them what to do with the property they bought. This is NOT what is happening! You as a user can open up your XBox and hack the hardware as much as you want, hack it so it bypasses whatever security's in there, they won't care. However, take that hack and turn it into a business for yourself by manufacturing hardware and selling it IS what they will move against. In my opinion, they have every right to do that, and it has nothing to do with a monopoly on anything. Just my opinion! Comments?
    • Yeah .. is it illegal to start a spark plug company and sell spark plugs for cars you don't manufacture yourself?

      What right does MS have in preventing people from selling after-market mods .. ? Where did this right come from? When? Why?
      • Installing the alternative spark plug doesn't cheat the original manufacturer out of any profit.
      • I can't think of a more apples and oranges comparison than that. Or wait, maybe not. What if those spark plugs had some kind of magical ability to let you get gasoline for free? Or if the spark plugs in your car allowed you to blow out my tires when driving down the road? Someone might get concerned about those spark plugs, oh yes.

        In the same way, Microsoft is trying to stop piracy of games and hacking that could potentially spill over into its XBox Live service. They want to make that as secure as possible to prevent abuse of the system and other users, and stomping on commercialized hacking ventures is probably their way of sending out a message. Again, this does not stop you from opening up your xbox and replacing its OS with Linux, or sticking a fishtank in it. You bought it, its yours.

    • by dschuetz (10924) <(slash) (at) (david.dasnet.org)> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:04PM (#4381529) Homepage
      However, take that hack and turn it into a business for yourself by manufacturing hardware and selling it IS what they will move against. In my opinion, they have every right to do that, and it has nothing to do with a monopoly on anything.

      I'm curious why you think MS has a right to stop a legitimate business from trying to turn a profit.

      Mod chips are, protests to the contrary, legal. The only ground MS might have to contest them on would be through the DMCA, as a chip could be used to run a pirated copy of a game. However, the DMCA also makes allowances for circumvention with "significant non-infringing uses", which a mod chip certainly has (seeing as how many people here want to run Linux on it). Of course, the law only supports consumers as far as they're willing to pay their lawyers.

      MS didn't license the Xbox to anyone, as anyone who owns one will tell you. People bought it outright, they can do whatever they want to it. People can sell hardware, software, instructions, whatever they want to help people modify their box.

      Some people have taken the opinion that MS is only attacking those things which might threaten their profitability (such as giving people the ability to write/distribute their own, unsigned games). Okay, then why don't they go after aftermarket controller manufacturers, since they obviously compete with MS controllers?

      This whole thing really irks me, and I'm not sure what bothers me more -- them getting away with it, or people believeing that MS has some kind of right to protect their flawed business model. Okay, maybe MS isn't making much money on hardware (as we all seem to believe). And we then assume they make that money back in development fees. So? I don't recall signing a piece of paper, when I bought my Xbox, that said I'd support Microsoft's business plan. Their plan is their own business. Lik Sang's business plan is, similarly, their business, and no one else's. They saw a need, and filled it. Sure, it's possible that mod chips might cut into a small fraction of game sales. Again, that's not my problem.

      If chipping cuts into a significant fraction of sales, and people stop making games, and the platform dies, then, well, that is my problem, and I'll be disappointed. O h, well, too bad, maybe next time. I'll still have gotten my $300 worth of fun out of the box. But, again, that's how the market works.

      This is capitalism at its best.

      I find it ironic that it's China that has the strongest support of capitalism, and the US that has the strongest implicit government support of illegal monopolies.

  • Could NCSX [ncsx.com] be next? They don't sell modchips, but they do sell pre-modded systems for playing multi-region games. Far from hurting Microsoft, yes...but we know how nasty those lawyers get when they haven't had anything to do in a while...
  • by j_kenpo (571930) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:44PM (#4381322)
    Wow, since I cant get my mod chips off Lik Sang, next time Microsoft asks me "Where do I want to go today?", Ill be sure to say "Hong Kong, so I can buy my mod chip"...
  • by Mr. Firewall (578517) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:44PM (#4381324) Homepage
    ... Micro$oft has just announced the availability of the Monopoly game for the Xbox.
  • Lik Sang were a good bunch of guys. I got my GC from them well before they came out over here (UK).

    That tosser Gates has a lot to answer for. Every day that goes by he's responsible for some crap that goes on in the world. He'll burn in hell for sure.

    Except I'm an athiest so I don't believe in all that heaven/hell/god crap. Maybe I'll become a born-again-christian the day the guy drops dead, just so I can believe for a day the bloke gets some retribution.
  • They were probably thinking that they'd better get this process started now, if they want to crush Lik-Sang before the Lofgren bill is passed.
  • by iskander (9699) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:53PM (#4381420)

    The article insinuates that the justification for sutting down this distributor is contributory infringement, based on the false premise that the device it distributes is unlawful. This is bullsh*t. If the mod chip's only use were the facilitation of software piracy, they might have a legal case; however, as of today (and the article acknowledges this) the mod chip makes running Linux on the Xbox possible, and running Linux is a significant non-infringing use of the mod chip, so the mod chip cannot be deemed illegal on the grounds that it can be used to run pirated games. I will never own an Xbox, much less bother to mod one, but Microsoft's attitude is really ticking me off. Check this out, Bill: you can't tell people what to do with "your" console once you've sold it to them.

  • by Chastitina (253566) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:53PM (#4381423)
    How convenient: "...Microsoft attorneys were unavailable to explain the exact nature of the legal action."

    I'm curious as to what the exact legal basis for this action is.

    As use of a product to break a law is to be more of a Federal interest than a corporate unless profits are involved. Which and whose profits are threatened by the mods?

    More importantly, how will this carry over to modifying any other consumer hardware? Will it be illegal someday to use after-market parts on your car? (One co-worker of mine who specializes in performance tuning tells me that messing with chipsets in most sports cars invalidates all warrenties.)

    An objection to mods on the basis that it allows illegal activity is like objecting to a rifle because it allows illegal activity. Heck, a garbage disposal can be used to hide evidence of misdoing. Why not make them illegal as well?

    I think there's a problem when enforcement of laws is used to prevent potential crimes and shut down the producer of potential problem goods. Yea, so a lot of mod chips will be used for piracy: go after the pirates. Others will produce interesting experiments like Linux on xbox. Yes, the manufacturer has to be aware of how the product will be used, but Phillip Morris and Winston-Salem blatently *advertise* product that cause even more expensive long-term health problems.

    But that's okay, so long as it doesn't infringe on profits of other conglomerate interests such as m$ or the RIAA.
  • Mod chips, legal issues aside, are one of the "value adds" of the console market.

    Please show me the #s. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of console buyers have even heard of mod-chips, let alone are interested in getting one.

    Consoles are commodity items purchased by people that aren't geeks, haven't read Slashdot, and probably don't have 3 Linux boxes in their home office.

    The infinitesimal percentage of XBOX owners that also purchased a mod chip doesn't come close to making a mod chip a "value add" for the console(ignoring your incorrect useage of that term).
  • Nintendo v Lik Sang (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:14PM (#4381613) Journal
    .. a couple years back, lik-sang had a similar run-in with nintendo over the N64 backup devices. They eventually got N to back off after they decided not to ship any units to North and Central America.

    Perhaps the same type of thing could happen with MSFT.

    Though I wonder if the mod in question, the PC-BIOXX/OpenXbox, counts as illegal. It is, in essence, a blank flashROM.

    You attach it to the xbox, and completely replace the xbox' bios with whatever you flash to the chip. So it could be used to run a hacked xbox bios that plays pirated code, it could be used to run the linux bios, or it could be used to run the retail bios (if the one on the mobo got fried).

    You could even use it on a PC mobo just as easily, if you wanted to play BIOS hacker. It's just a plain-vanilla 2mbit flashrom for the LPC header.

    I mean, is the device itself illegal just because it has some illegal use?
  • by Maul (83993) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:29PM (#4381776) Journal
    Microsoft doesn't want people to have the right to do what they wish with the products they buy.

    Yes, these modchips facilitate piracy. But they also have legitimate uses on every console they exist for. Not to mention that people should be able to use the modchip for "copied" games so long as those are backup copies.

    Lik Sang offered plenty of legitimate products for people who enjoy modding their consoles, tinkering, homebrew developmenet, etc. Of course, Microsoft doesn't want people to tinker and mod for ANY reason, because this undermines the next step in MS's business plan.

    Microsoft is trying very hard to establish a sense that you don't own your X-Box, but they do. With Palladium, they are going to extend that idea to the PC... you don't own your computer... MS does.

    Microsoft is going to use their money and power to take out any companies like Lik Sang in the future that give people the ability to mod their X-Box, or mod their PC's hardware after Palladium is released.
  • For chrisssakes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cinnamon (15309) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:49PM (#4381951) Homepage
    I never, ever post here, mostly because Slashdot is so packed nowadays it's probably already been said. But I feel compelled.

    All of you saying Microsoft has the right to do this:

    Are you all complete and utter retards? Does this really have to be explained to you anew each time something actions such as this (Not necessarily by Microsoft) has been taken?

    Let's try again, slowly for those of you who can't understand it.

    1) Although there aren't enough details available (That I've seen) to judge this particular instance, virtually every time a purveyor of products that let you change what you've legally purchased to do something else gets shut down it is NOT with actual legal action, it is with the THREAT of legal action. The sickening fact of all this isn't whether or not these entities are within their legal right to do this, but that the question is never asked. Lawsuits are so onerous that the mere threat of one is sufficient to stop what MAY BE legal. The crucial legal court test NEVER OCCURS.

    2) The 'slippery slope', while being largely a strawman argument, in cases like this is perhaps valid. If you don't think ANY hardware company is absolutely DROOLING at the prospect of extending it's reach far beyond the change of posession (purchase) of a product you're living in a fantasy world. Precendents such as this will of course start with a basis in what are apparently legal and moral positions, right now in the name of stopping piracy, but there is absolutely no reason to stop there. Once you've established the precedent of extending so-called 'rights' beyond the customer taking posession of your product you have infintely more control over what they can and cannot do, spanning legal and illegal uses.

    3) The fact that devices such as mod chips (And P2P networks, for that matter) have both legitimate and illegitimate uses is not just a side argument. It is important to realize that many freedoms enjoyed by Americans (And for that matter, citizens of many other countries) are freedoms that could be used for both legitimate and illegitimate purposes. Drawing comparisons between the use of mod chips and free speech is more than just hyperbole, it is an attempt to illustrate that once you start allowing the restriction of something based on it's (in this case potentially) illegal uses you are setting a very dangerous precedent, and one that because of the DMCA has criminal and not just civil ramifications.

    The DMCA is the bridge between a civil lawsuit brought by Microsoft and someone going to jail for making or using something that could be used to violate IP 'rights'. If you still don't believe me, ask yourself why they need the DMCA then? Why was it necessary for the government to enact legislation that allows companies and the government to take punitive actions against those who violate IP, or more accurately those who MAKE things that COULD be used to violate IP, rather than stick with civil proceedings? (Even the threat of which, I might add, seem to work just fine.) In other words, if you're going to say no one's going to get sent to jail for this, why is there a law that says you will? Do you honestly think that mod chip makers should go to jail?

    4) Microsoft's choice to sell their products (X-box) at a loss does not automatically give them the legal right to take any and all action they see fit to try and make money through other means, in this case through game licenses. It's been said time and again but you still don't seem to get it, just because somebody WANTS to make money doesn't mean they GET to. It's very possible that their choice to try and pursue this method of profit is foolish and could result in failure due to the boxes being modded for uses besides purchasing the products they do make money on, but because of point (1) we may never know. By using the threat of legal action they may have secured a business model that is unavailable to other companies without as deep pockets. Do you think Microsoft would have succeeded in beating down Lik Sang if Microsoft were a small startup? (Not that X-box's major competitors, such as Sony, are small startups.) No. They can do this because of point (1), and because other companies realize the law being on their side (perhaps) is a moot point. In this case, Might Makes Right.

    I hope this explains a bit to those of you comparing modding your X-Box to rolling your odometer back on your car (boggle) or simply accusing posters of being Microsoft/other large coporate entity bashers. It IS about essential rights, albeit indirectly, whether you choose to believe ir ot not.
  • Unauthorized ?!# (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PrimeNumber (136578) <PrimeNumber.excite@com> on Thursday October 03, 2002 @01:52PM (#4381979) Homepage
    The chips typically allow a game machine to play legally and illegally copied discs, run unauthorized software and play game discs intended for other geographic regions.

    Unauthorized by who?
  • by AAAWalrus (586930) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:22PM (#4382253)
    People have established that Microsoft isn't attacking hackers directly. If you want to open up your xbox and piss on the circuits, BillyBorg can't stop you. If you manufacture and sell commercially a means to circumvent or alter their code, they can. The real question is, why?

    Basically, MS could care less about someone making money doing this. What they really care about is what this enables. A commercial outfit, manufacturing and selling components *enables* virtually all people to purchase xboxes with the *intent* of using them for alternate purposes. If they leave hack-shops unchecked for long, they have basically allowed a competing market to develop against what they really want to sell - games and service.

    If I want to purchase an xbox because I want to mod it AND I know I can just buy a chip online with ease, Microsoft would rather not sell me the xbox in the first place. Since they can't discriminate against buyers, they can make it more difficult for me to purchase a chip. Microsoft is not targetting the hardcore hackers. If you want to hack an xbox that badly and you have the skills, you'll do it. Who they *are* targetting is the average Joe Sixpack who buys an xbox. If he buys it and later sees he can easily purchase and install a mod to do things like play pirated games or run a webserver, Microsoft has just lost marketshare in the market that counts.

    THAT's what they are trying to stop. Not hacking, but the widespread usage of manufactured mods by average users.
  • by Jayde Stargunner (207280) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:52PM (#4382510)
    There's a lot of "This is typical of M$", "Antitrust ... etc.", and "This just goes to show they have too much power," going around.

    BS. Plain and simple.

    This is STANDARD industry practice. Do some research before you start going off on a big rant about how evil MS is. (Which may be true, but not because of this. lol)

    Sony has sued or threatened to sue just about EVERY SINGLE mod-chip maker and retailer during the last year. They have threatened and/or sued installers and resellers of mod chips, as well as sued the mod chip makers into the ground multiple times.

    Nintendo isn't much better. But Sony has been hyper-aggresive about this. I have friends in Germany who run a console modding business, yet refuse to do anything related to the PS2 due to Sony's legal threats to them.

    This is not a Microsoft thing. It is a console thing. That's all there is to it.

    -Jayde
  • by sdugoten2 (449392) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @04:10PM (#4383112)
    Here is some background of Lik Sang. It is a small shop that sell console games and accessories sited inside Golden center in Hong Kong. (In case you don't know, Golden center is a very very very popular computer/games/console/software center for HK ppl and tourist) The shop is no bigger than 200 square feet. There are like a dozen more of those small shops in the Golden center that sell similar stuff. And you know what? Every single shop there sell mod-chips and pre-modded console. Hong Kong ppl already used to buy/play private games, since the era of Nitendo.

    The reason why M$ only go after LikSang is that they are high profile. They sell mod-chips online. There are in fact hundreds of those shop out there in HK sell mod-chip/pre-modded console, they just don't do it online. M$ might be able to stop LikSang sell the chips online, but they can't do shit other than that.

    I am not saying buying/play private games are right, but HK ppl are so used to it that it becomes the norm. One thing is interesting I would like to share with you guys. The way they sell private console games in HK is kind of funny. Console games usually don't sell in Golden center, since this is such a popular tourist spot. Ppl sell consoles games usually in some shop next to Golden center. When you walk in to those shops, you see private games on racks. However, you see no sales or shopkeeper. There is a paper basket next to the door with money and changes inside. All you need to do is to pick your game and put money into the paper baskets before you leave the shop. Usually, "shop keeper" either pretend to be a shopper or watching outside of the shop. Just make sure you did put money into that basket or someone will beat the crap out of you if you don't. So, if police or whoever come, they can't do anything since they can't find the shop keeper.

    Private console CD games are usually around $3 US dollars each and around $8 US dollars for DvD games.
  • Um hello... (Score:3, Funny)

    by GoRK (10018) <johnl @ b lurbco.com> on Friday October 04, 2002 @12:44AM (#4385335) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but fuck Michrosoft's whiny bitch ass with a big rubber mickey mouse dick. This is just out of line.

    If you read my past comments you'll see I don't usually flame, but this is ridiculous.

    Mod me up, scotty.

    I mean, Jesus...

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