What are the possibilities of security on the gaming console and the games? How can it be improved to prevent piracy in the next generation game consoles?

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  • What does "piracy" mean?

Piracy has a very broad and historical definition. In the 'oldies', piracy was seen as a robery on the high seas; these were men that originally were adventurers who attacked different ships. Their main purpose was to use violence to commit theft or any other crime. Nowadays piracy can be seen more as a sort of plagiarism; the copying or distribution of computer software, and in this case games, without proper authorization. In other words, this term is most often used to describe the theft of commercial software programs, which are routinely cracked by either hobbyists, who distribute it over the Internet as "warez", or by organized crime triads that resell the software on the black market.

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  • What are the total costs of piracy?

Piracy costs the software industry around $29 billion. Only $3.0 billion of this amount can be accounted to the game industry. Given this information, we can conclude that more and more software (and game) companies will go bankrupt in the nearby future.

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  • What are the factors that stimulate piracy?
  • Illegal websites or Bittorrentsites
  • Peer-to-peer networks
  • High-speed internet
  • DVD-RW
  • Emulators
  • Modchips

Another interesting issue that stimulates piracy has to do with the relatively young age of the primary target market of the video consoles and games. Lot of gamers are between the age of 16 and 25. Often they cannot afford the high prices of games. Most of the gamers are also students that have to pay high bills such as electricity, car insurance, rent, food, and phone. They have broadband too, which is another monthly payment, just to enjoy online gaming. With this in mind, how can anyone believe that people that pirate games are able to afford every game they would like to play. Another point that stimulates piracy is that if you buy a game and after a while you come to the conclusion that it is not the game you were looking for. It wasn’t fun, and you can’t return the game to the store due to popular no-return policies at software stores.

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  • What are the existing security technologies for game consoles and how did this develop over time?

The most important technology, security and method for our current video consoles is Digital Rights Management (=DRM). Previously, Digital Rights Management focuses on security and encryption as a means of solving the issue of unauthorized copying, that is, lock the content and limit its distribution to only those who pay. This was the first-generation of DRM, and it represented a substantial narrowing of the real and broader capabilities of DRM. The second-generation of DRM covers the description, identification, trading, protection, monitoring and tracking of all forms of rights usages over both tangible and intangible assets including management of rights holders relationships. Usually the content is a copyrighted work that belongs to the vendor. For more information see driving force 'Preventing game piracy: DRM'.

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  • Is it legal to make a copy that you own?

Yes. According to the U.S. Copyright laws allow you to make one backup copy of software you own. However, that backup copy is "tied" to your original. If you sell or give away your original software, lets say you sell your game on Ebay, you must destroy your backup copy or package it with the orignal when you sell or give it away. Likewise, you may not sell or give away your backup copy without the original.

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  • Is it legal to download a copy of a game that you own?

No. Even if you own the original game, you are not entitled to download a copy of it. According to the copyright law the only copy of software you are entitled to is the one you make yourself.

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  • Is it legal to download classic (old-school) games?

Again no. The U.S. copyright laws states that copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 95 years from the date of first publication. Because video and computer games have been around a little more than three decades, the copyrights of all video and computer programs will not expire for many decades to come.

Some gamers think that developers (=hackers) making emulators and ROMs are helping publishers by making old games available that are no longer being sold by the copyright owner. They say that this does not hurt anyone and allows gamers to play old favorites.

  • Are emulators legal?

Generally, yes. Even recently, Sony was unable to prevent the distribution of the PlayStation emulator "bleem!". However, there have been emulators that used copyrighted BIOS code internally; those have generally found to have been illegal.

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  • Are modchips legal?

There are long debates going on about his matter. The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) included specific language concerning attempts to disable copyright protection. Additionally, some mod-chips contain copies of the original BIOS for the console, making them obvious copyright violations. For the most part, console makers are more successful than not in shutting down mod-chip distributors and makers.

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  • Which countries try to prevent game piracy and which countries are pro-piracy? How is the relation between them?

Most of all, the US and some european countries (like the UK and also Holland) are trying to prevent illegal copying and gaming piracy. On the other hand, countries like China, Indonesia, Maleysia, and India are the biggest markets for the distribution of illigal games and also piracy. China has the world's second-largest population of Internet users, with 78 million people reportedly online. The concerning side of China and India is that these countries are expected to grow into a dominant economy in the nearby future. The most important piracy that has been identified in these countries are especially internet-cafe piracy. This also the reason why the US puts more pressure on the governments of these countries.

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  • What kind of punishment are there for game piracy?

At the moment there are not really punishments for piracy. But on ther other side, people involved in this business are violating the law, and in some countries there are penalties for doing so. However, once you have reached a certain level of distribution of illegal software, the punishment could include jail.

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  • What are the possible new security technologies in the next generation game consoles?

Macrovision, the company responsible for the famous VHS copy-protection scheme of the same name, plans to introduce a new anti-piracy scheme for video games The system, called "Fade," gradually disables the capabilities of an illegally copied game.

Fade imprints a disc with small bits of data designed to look like dust or scratches. Error-correction routines built into CD-copying software leave those out of a copied game, which sends up a red flag to Fade and tells it to start doing its thing.

Essentially, it turns the pirated game into a demo -- a demo with an odd sense of humor. Codemasters, which implemented Fade in some versions of Operation Flashpoint, programmed its game to work fine for a while after a user made a copy. Eventually, however, the Fade routines cause players' aim to go awry, and their ammo supply to fluctuate randomly.

The beauty of this is that the degrading copy becomes a sales promotion tool. People go out and buy an original version.

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  • Which kind of institutions or organisations try to prevent piracy and what are their main activities?

The biggest and most well-known international organization who tries to deal with piracy is the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Especially game developers have a active role in these kind of organizations. On the other side there are also locally active organizations, like Ban Illegale Games in Holland.

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  • How is the relationship between these organizations and the authorities (=government)?

These organization are mostly independent trade associations that is funded by member dues and revenues generated from other association functions. For instance, the ESA is not affiliated with the U.S. Government, or any other government.

  • Who are the main characters in the process of file sharing and how do they work?

Industry and theater employees run their own straight-to-video operations. Hackers looking for prerelease videogames target company servers. But the employees can also be corrupt and sell their works or leak out valueable information to these hackers. And before that long-awaited game hits Play.com, moles inside disc-stamping plants have already got a copy.

The pirated goods are passed on to a release group. These groups take multi-gigabyte movie files and squeeze them down for easy online trading.

Release groups are known to have exclusive relationships with certain so-called topsites. These are the highly secretive sites at the top of the distribution pyramid. When a topsite operator drops a file, the avalanche begins.

Alerted by release groups, worker bees spring into action, copying and transferring files from the topsites to lower-level dump sites, and then from there to P2P networks like Kazaa and Morpheus. For the couriers, the payoff is props from their peers and credits redeemable for goods on upper levels of the pyramid.

After the file is copied thousands of times the P2P networks saturate, allowing casual file-traders easy access to the newest movies, music, and videogames.

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