Sega Shuts Down Dreamcast Pirates

Sega of America has taken action to shut down more than 60 Web sites and 125 auction sites that the company accuses of selling pirated versions of Dreamcast video games.

The San Francisco, California-based interactive games company is working closely with Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, eBay, and Amazon to shut down auctions of people who were attempting to sell copies of the games and allegedly pirated boot disks.

Said Peter Moore, president and chief operating officer of Sega, “Pirates are parasites that hurt this community and will not be tolerated by Sega. This is just the first step in an even bigger action the company will undertake to stop this problem.”

Hack Attack

Sega’s Dreamcast — with its internal copy protection and CDs that hold twice as much data as regular discs — was regarded as one of the most secure digital game systems on the market. That changed late last month when a group of hackers known as “Utopia” announced that they had broken Sega’s copy protection.

The hackers released a set of copied games online and a boot disk that would trick the Dreamcast system into playing the pirated games. An information packet distributed with the phony games proclaimed, “Finally, though no one really expected it, we made your dreams come true: Dreamcast BootCD V1.1 — boot copies and imports on a NON-chipped(!) standard consumer model.”

In the past few weeks, dozens of pirated Dreamcast games have been released on the Internet and traded through underground networks operating off Internet Relay Chat (IRC). In some instances, the pirates stripped the games of the background music so they would fit on a standard CD.

Charles Bellfield, Segas director of communications, said the companys drive against the Internet trade of pirated versions of Dreamcast marked one of the first times that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 had been used to go after the Web hosting companies and Internet Service Providers used by pirate traders.

“Weve done the first level, which is cease and desist orders to auction companies and also to Web hosting companies. If they do not comply then legal prosecutions will start,” Bellfield said.

Sega’s crackdown effort is apparently not enough to stop the illicit trading. Friday morning, announcements appeared on several Dreamcast forums with instructions on how to copy Dreamcast CDs. An announcement also appeared saying that another group has obtained Utopia’s pirated boot disk.

Industry Gets Aggressive

Sega’s shutdown of pirate sites is just the latest attack on software pirates by the interactive game industry. Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, it is a crime to sell pirated versions of copyrighted material. Software pirates face not only criminal prosecution, but also hefty civil penalties.

Last month, 13 computer and video game companies went to court to shut down six Web sites that they said were selling pirated versions of their software. They are seeking monetary damages of up to $150,000 (US$) for each copyrighted work. Earlier in the year, Sega, Nintendo of America, and Electronic Arts filed a joint suit against Yahoo! alleging that counterfeit games were being sold through Yahoo! auctions and that Yahoo! was doing nothing to stop the piracy.

Doug Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association, said, “Piracy is one of the biggest business threats our industry faces, and Internet piracy is especially virulent.”

A report released in May by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA) put worldwide piracy losses at over $12 billion last year alone and $59 billion for the past five years. Piracy losses for the United States and Canada last year amounted to $3.6 billion.

9 Comments

  • Sega lost business due to their “copy protection.”

    I myself AM a Utopia supporter, if they have the brains to crack a code like that they’re geniuses. but… i found a way to do it, it’s quite simple. go online and order a backup GD-ROM Drive for your DC. After figuring it out and hooking it up to your computer pop the game on the drive and put a 99min cd-r *(not 80) open nero’s burning rom set the cd-rw so it will “overburn” and boot the game with ure utopia boot disc. enjoy 🙂

    • So go pirate PSX games then, and leave us alone!

      The whole industry is gonna crash again in a year or two. Especially since Microsoft

      is in the console business. If they bring their PC strategies to the console market, it’s

      gonna be an interesting year. I’m not sure I want a new console just yet, I’m still

      enjoying PC games and my favorite PSX games. Of course I have my Dreamcast as well

      with all Sega’s HIT Games, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, PSO…

      When the PSX2’s price drops (January?) I’ll get it so I can play MGS2 and I’ll see what

      driving games are out there, but I’m not really dying to have one, that would be a great

      exaggeration. Yeah Sony will survive any pirating because of their foothold in the market.

      The PSX was one of those consoles that was brilliantly designed. There was nothing like it.

      Many decent consoles died miserable deaths because of the PSX. Stupid Nintendo could

      have owned it too. 😛

      As for GameCube, I’m quite through playing with baby toys. I never owned a Nintendo

      machine and I never will. You couldn’t give me one. Oh! I want to be an ape and have a

      stupid bird follow me so I can save the princess. Oh and in that flying game, I want to

      be the rabbit! No the hippo! LOL They should put a label on Nintendo products:

      Rated K for Kindergarden

      Not appropriate for children over 15

      Dave – From the old school of video games

      • Well, to people who think you need a boot disc, this is a little word to the wise…YOU DON’T!! Dreamcast will read back up cdr copies without a boot disc. And you can also burn PS2 games to but although PS2 requires a mod chip and there are many kinds to choose from!! I’m sorry to say but they will never stop anybody from ripping games because it is too worldwide and with today’s technology it is far too easy to do!! You don’t even have to have any prior knowledge of computers to download and burn games!! It’s that easy!!

        • ha. funny. you joke about nintendo being a kiddy company just like everyone else. sure a lot of their games are FAMILY based, but none are directed entirely for little 10 year olds… (tele-tubbies for playstation, anyone?) sure the playstation was a hit, but thats only because of the games that came to it. sony hardly did any of the work. square, konami, and other third parties made the playstation what it is. as far as playstation 2…i haven’t seen a worse console. the only thing keeping it afloat in my opinion is the hype surrounding it. oh yea…it plays dvd movies and ps1 games. who freakin cares? why spend $300+ on a console that plays dvd movies when most people already have a dvd player and an original playstation? then you’ve just wasted about $100+. i won’t even begin on the games. that’d take way too long. they’re all the same. no originality at all. oh maybe fantavision, but i can’t help but laff at a game that simulates fireworks…

          as for ‘from the old school of video games’…nintendo and sega are old school. they’re as old school as old school comes.

          • excute me but playstation made great soccer games like Internation superstar soccer and winning eleven I think that was one of the reasons psx stayed strong!

          • The real reason that Dreamcast failed (it was and still is a great system) is exactly why Playstation succeeded… pirated games. Anyone can burn a PS one game and, now, a Dreamcast one. I AM mad that this happened because Sega and third parties quit making games for it. If no one could pirate DC games, it would be the undisputed champion against Playstation 2 (which is already starting to look dated and should be called PS one version 2 due based on all the stuff i have read about it). Hopefully no one can burn Xbox games, because microsoft’s newest creation appears to be a lot better made than any operating system, driver, or software with their name on it.

  • The only reason that Playstation sold so many units (apart from the post-clubbing sunday gamers) is the fact that game piracy was so easy. Shock and deep intake of breath, Piracy kept the playstation above water for many years longer. It should have drowned ages ago. So if any of you wish to make a bestseller console all you have to do is create CD game-based hardware and then watch the HD money roll in.

    And as for the Gamecube it plays and looks like a dream (10 out of 10). Small discs but cute in all its glory. And as for it being fluffy, think of all the Horror coming to it: reworkings of Resident Evil with prequel RE Zero etc.

    So back to the DC bully tactics. Sega get a life and the console will seemingly take on a life of its own et al Playstation like.

    Also the advert slogan for PS2 the third place

    well is that

    1st place Nintendo

    2nd Dreamcast (out of production)

    3rd place PS2. HAhA See ya round.

  • F off sega you were flopping in the industry anyway. You don’t see sony whining like a bastard baby do you? PSX games are a lot easier to copy and play, and they are still making their money right? And money is what it boils down to for Sega isn’t it? Shut your corporate, crappy video game organization mouths and accept the fact that you are all failures!!!!

    -=NIK=-

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