From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) — Hackers have broken yet another copy protection scheme, one meant to prevent the copying of games for the most powerful video game console on the U.S. market, the Sega Dreamcast.
Japan-based Sega said the piracy would not affect the business materially, but that it was working with law enforcement and would pursue pirates vigorously.
Piracy of games for the older Sony PlayStation console has been widespread for some time. The CD-ROMs carrying the games can be copied with CD recorders, now common in personal computers.
The Dreamcast, released in the United States late last year, has been protected until recently by its special disc format.
Dreamcast games come on discs similar to CD-ROMs, but they cannot be read by other CD-ROM drives, and the consoles are not supposed to be able to read recorded CD-ROMs.
A hacker group called Utopia released a file on the Internet a week ago that can be burned onto a CD-ROM. When that CD-ROM is loaded into the Dreamcast’s memory, the console becomes able to read other CD-ROMs.
Utopia and another hacker group have also released pirated game files, which can be recorded onto CD-ROMs and played on the altered consoles.
An administrator at a Web site that keeps track of the piracy scene, who goes by the Net alias ‘ttol’ and spoke on condition of anonymity, said 18 games were available for download and 3-4 games were being released every day.
Sega spokesman Charles Bellfield said the company made changes to the consoles 6-9 months ago to prevent this kind of piracy, and that just 100,000-200,000 of the 2 million consoles sold in the United States would be able to play pirate games.
‘ttol’ said that was “obviously false,” and that he had many reports from all over the world of “cracked” games working.
The pirates are hobbled by the fact that original Dreamcast discs can contain almost twice as much information as a CD-ROM.
Some games won’t fit completely on a CD-ROM.
‘ttol’ said the soundtrack was removed from one game to fit it on a CD-ROM.
Bellfield said Sega was “extremely pro-active in pursuing any site, individual or corporation that either conducts pirated sales or proliferates pirated content.”
Sega, fellow console maker Nintendo and game designer Electronic Arts sued Yahoo! in March, alleging that counterfeit versions of their best-selling games were being sold in Yahoo!’s auction area and by online retailers.
Hackers have broken several protection schemes meant to protect copyrights.
In the highest-profile case yet, a Norwegian teen-ager and his father were charged earlier this year with creating and distributing a program that breaks the encoding of DVDs, or digital versatile discs, enabling the copying of movies.
The Sonic Scene actually knew this a few days ago, with AJ Freda saying that only Dead or Alive 2 was being pirated, but now there are so many more that were uncovered. We’ll follow this closely.