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legal

Not much more to say: the man really is nuts. Check GamePolitics for the story and the full complaint.

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Back in August, gaming website Kotaku posted scans of what purported to be a leaked Halo 3 manual on their site. Not knowing if they were genuine, they put them up and let the readership decide whether to give them credence or not.

Now it seems that Internet Investigator James Young has sent Kotaku a rather odd letter. Kotaku has posted the entirety of the letter, but it's worth pulling out a few select pieces for examination:

It has come to Microsoft's attention that your website includes material which is in violation of Microsoft's intellectual property rights. Content currently residing within your computer system infringes on the trademark rights of Microsoft Corporation and constitutes an unauthorized activity relating to Microsoft computer programs.

So, first off, disclaimers: I Am Not A Lawyer and This Article Does Not Constitute Legal Advice.

Secondly, trademark infringement. This usually refers to use of a registered trademark within a certain context. These are protected to prevent companies from creating me-too products to confuse consumers.

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There's been an awful lot of community discussion around the first version of Microsoft's recently released Game Content Usage Rules. Most likely a result of Halo 3's upcoming Saved Films feature, Microsoft is the first game publisher to openly publish such rules, instead of simply remaining silent over copyright violations that do benefit them insofar as they help promote the games.

Shortly after the rules were noticed, some machinima studios claimed that its restrictions against "adding to the game universe" and prohibition against usic "music and audio effects" forced them to close down.

Don "DonkeyXote" McGowan in Micrsoft's legal department, who helped draft the rules, also posted in his blog about them, touching on the story, audio, and reverse engineering items specifically.

Machinima For Dummies has two news articles on the rules: one, two. Hugh Hancock provided an analysis of the rules, stating that they do need revision but are mostly positive.

However, probably the best analysis comes from EFF attorney Fred Von Lohmann, linked to in Hancock's post. The bottom line is: using this license is not mandatory, and even if you do use it, it provides rights additional rights to the fair use rights you already have.

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Russian gaming site OGL appropriates Bungie's Christmas card image featuring Oni's Konoko.


Rampant for over se7en years.



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When we heard whispers to expect something "soon" from Wideload, I'm sure nobody had this in mind. Translator Dmitri "Goblin" Puchkov, responsible for many of the best quality dubs of Western movies and television programs into Russian, including some hilarious spoof dubs of films like Star Wars Episode One and Shmatrica, a parody of The Matrix, has turned his eyes to Stubbs the Zombie.

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Halogen, an unofficial fan project to create a real-time strategy game in the Halo universe, is shutting down due to a request from Microsoft. From their homepage:

Hours ago, we finally recieved the words we've been dreading since the mod started to get noticed. Microsoft has decided that we are infringing on the intellectual property of Bungie Studios and has asked us to stop development on Halogen.

The site notes that the forum and other areas will be shut down within a week.

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Yesterday I responded to Ozymandias' reasons why he couldn't endorse modchipping for adding new functionality, such as that supported by the excellent Xbox Media Center software, because it would harm Microsoft's business model, in which they subsidize the hardware and depend on you buying software and accessories. The assumption here is that every hacker who uses his Xbox for running Linux and XBMC spends less time gaming and buys fewer games. The real allegation there, of course, is that all hackers are really interested in is pirating games.

Ozymandias listed one other reason he thought someone might want to modchip an Xbox, and, not surprisingly, he doesn't condone this one, either.

Click "read more" below from the front page for the entire article.

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Microsoft doesn't want you to modify your Xbox or Xbox 360. It voids your warranty. It might let you pirate games, meaning less revenue for Microsoft and its partners. You might use it to run Linux. Or you might use it to cheat on Xbox Live.

Is it possible for Microsoft to stop modding? Should they try? Or is there a way to engage with the modding community in a way that makes sense for everyone?

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The BBC has the story that a 22-year-old UK resident and Cambridge graduate was sentenced to 140 hours community service and ordered to pay £750 in court costs after being caught selling modified Xbox consoles, fitted with a 200GB hard drive and 80 pre-installed games.

The UK's enactment of the EU Copyright Directive in 2003 makes the modification of consoles illegal; Sony won a case prohibiting the sale of modchips in the UK in 2004.

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University of Gothenburg student Joel Zetterström has written his Master's Thesis on the legal issues involved in cheating at online multiplayer games. It's a 95 page PDF file clocking in at 1.1Mb; you can download it from FZ.se. Thanks BDGamer.

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magnum76 on the Project Torlan-Nexus forum has posted an update on what is and is not acceptable to do in creating a Halo-themed mod, like theirs for Unreal Tournament; basically, it seems that extracting Halo content from PC Halo is okay, but extracting Halo 2 content from the Xbox is not. Keep in mind that the information comes from a supposed "Microsoft insider" and is not an official company statement.

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It seems Microsoft is suing 117 for phishing without a license.

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CBS News is putting up a series of interviews on videogame violence in their weekly GameCore column, shooting a battery of questions at various figures in order to compare the answers. First up was attorney Jack Thomson, who routinely sues companies whose games are mentioned in conjunction with violent acts by teens who play those games.

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Following the anonymous release of a letter complaining about unfair labor practices at Electronic Arts, it seems the law firm Schubert & Reed LLP in San Fransisco is beginning proceedings for a class action suit, according to GameSpot, to represent employees of EA who it is claimed have been incorrectly classified as exempt from overtime payment.

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Looks like Bungie.net is getting ready to open their Stats section (Editor's Note: Still down as of this writing) in preparation of Halo 2's launch on XBL next week; after a short downtime, today the site is notifying users about their new Privacy Statement,

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