Xbox 360 Update Locks Out Pirates

Microsoft quietly let out an update today to fix a problem that they created in a November update: the ability to Boot to disc. In the process, they also have disabled the ability to play pirated copies of some games. While I don’t approve of piracy, the ability to backup your bought software has always been an issue.

The update is mandatory and Xbox 360 owners will be prompted to update the next time they sign-in to Xbox LIVE. Microsoft has also blocked some popular flashed firmware disc drive modifications with the update. Pirates typically flash their DVD drives with modified firmware to bypass Microsoft’s game security checks.”Anti-piracy 2.5″ is the software giant’s latest attempt to thwart console pirates. According to nearly 200 posts on a popular Xbox 360 moding forum, pirates are having a number of issues loading games after the mandatory update.

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Windows 7 Pirating: How Hard Is It?

Ed Bott of ZDNet has traveled to the dark side and has pirated Windows 7. For educational purposes, of course. I’ve always gotten a good deal on my software, and if I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t upgrade. My OS was usually the first purchase I made, and other software was either a generation behind or open source and free. I haven’t attempted to pirate a Microsoft OS in ages (XP, I think I did for fun – I had a legit license for XP Pro), but it looks like it is more difficult than ever, and a lot more risky. The malware and rootkit risk alone is enough to make me not want to attempt it. I always chalk the OS cost as part of a PC build along with the hardware, so it’s not too big of a deal. Others that are thinking of attempting to pirate their way into a copy of Windows 7 may want to read this article before you take the plunge. I don’t condone piracy, but I can’t stop anyone. I can only warn them of the dangers lurking out there!

If you do intend to try this stuff out for yourself, I recommend extreme caution. My hunt for utilities that bypass Windows 7 activation technologies led me to some very seedy corners of the Internet. First, I did what any red-blooded wannabe pirate would do and tried some Google searches. Of the first 10 hits, six were inactive or had been taken down. After downloading files from the remaining four sites, I submitted them to, where three of the four samples came back positive for nasty, difficult-to-remove Windows 7 rootkits.

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US Government Seizes Domains

In a new battle against piracy, the US government has taken upon itself to seize domains that list any links to files on other servers that may contain copyrighted material. I am starting to feel that the “public” networks aren’t so public anymore. The Internet never left the governments hands, did it? Sites that were seized were replaced with the following image:

I am not for piracy at all, but I am more against government censorship. If they were a bit more knowledgeable in how torrents worked, and how search engines worked, this wouldn’t have happened. Guess what? I can search and download copyrighted materials using Google. Is that going to be shut down next? Who knows. Obama will have his way, as he and his administration have already proven to be more knowledgeable than anyone else in the IT industry…

While complex, it’s still possible for U.S. authorities and copyright groups to point at a fully-fledged BitTorrent site with a tracker and say “that’s an infringing site.” When one looks at a site which hosts torrents but operates no tracker, the finger pointing becomes quite a bit more difficult.

When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield – unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.

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How Microsoft Goes After Pirates

I’ve never been a supporter of piracy, although I am a big advocate for making better product that people would pay for. Microsoft spends millions of dollars every year to combat piracy of its products, and they have some hard core ways of doing it. Of course, software piracy isn’t just software a lot of the times. Remember that next time you buy a pirated copy of Windows from the street: You could be supporting the drug cartels and kidnappers.

The police reached the house undetected, barreled in and found rooms crammed with about 50 machines used to copy CDs and make counterfeit versions of software like Microsoft Office and Xbox video games. They arrested three men on the spot, who were later released while the authorities investigate the case. “The entire operation was very complicated and risky,” says a person close to the investigation, who demanded anonymity out of fear for his life.

The raid added to a body of evidence confirming La Familia’s expansion into counterfeit software as a low-risk, high-profit complement to drugs, bribery and kidnapping. The group even stamps the disks it produces with “FMM,” which stands for Familia Morelia Michoacana, right alongside the original brand of various software makers.

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