ESA, Mexican Police Raid Video Game Bootleggers

March 18, 2008 -

The Entertainment Software Association reports via press release that Mexican law enforcement authorities recently staged a crackdown on video game bootlegging operations in Mexico City.

Working with ESA representatives, more than 500 Mexican police coordinated raids on four game duplication facilities and three storage locations. The haul of contraband was impressive: 290 DVD/CD burners, 28,800 bootleg game copies and over 900,000 video game cover inserts. Said Ric Hirsch, the ESA's senior vice president for Intellectual Property Enforcement:
 

Mexico is an important market for ESA members due to the enormous popularity of entertainment software. Unfortunately, Mexico also has an alarmingly high rate of game software piracy that by our estimates reaches 88%. We are very grateful for the efforts of [the Mexican authorities] in attacking the sources of pirate video games circulating in Mexico City markets, as such enforcement actions are the best way to reduce high levels of game piracy.


The raids, which followed months of investigation by the ESA, took place in Mexico City's Tepito market area, which, according to the ESA, is "one of the most popular shopping areas in Mexico City and is a local center of black market activity."


Comments

@Yuki

because they're "too hard for US gamers"

Good to hear, I hope they caught the ringleaders too.

Let's hope they ONLY atttack those people and not the 13 year old boys who download the game for themselves, because if they ever do the latter, they'll be as bad as the RIAA.

Now THAT'S how to handle piracy. Get those who are out to make a profit.

Finally looks like the ESA is targeting the ACTUAL criminals and not law abiding citizens the way it did during the ICE raids.

Personally, i don't like piracy, as I think it's counter productive to the industry. By the same token, I'm a massive importer, and since the ESA and all hardware Makers in general see fit to put region lockouts on Consoles, I have to use a bypass to play my Legally Purcahsed Imports, many of which, never see release stateside.

My question I'd like to ask the ESA and for that matter the ECA, is, don't I as a consumer have the right to purchase and play games legally from any country I want without having to hack my own console to play them? And if no, why isn't it required that EVERY game, regardless of where it's made, be released with english language subtitles and menus and then released locally in the USA instead of forcing people to import and then bypass region lockouts on there system to play it.

I still think it's the industries own fault that Mod chips and such became popular. Had it not been for the fact that importers had to use this technology first to play imports, I dont' think the piracy scene would have really gotten started the way it did. Maybe it would still be around, but probably a lot less prevalent.

Glad to see that they are shutting down real pirates. I wish them all the success with these types.

@TheBird

I'm an Importer, I know thats Bullshit, no offense intended.

@Yuki

Agreed. I've played a few older games via emulator that never came out stateside, was able to play them just fine.

@ Kurisu

Even modern games that I'd really like to see, specificly games based on anime or Japanese culture. For example, the 3rd naruto game is coming out in the USA in about a week. I have had it for over 6 months now. I shouldn't have had to import it.

Stuff like that annoys the hell outta me.

88% of /what/, exactly ? Yay for random numbers that sound bad but have no basis in reality !

@phrawzty

Well presumably they mean that 88% of software sold either in mexico in total or at that location in particular is pirated. Even if that number is the increasingly common "oh, we accidentaly tripled the real figure and then used the false result as a legitimate statistic" that we see in press releases from industry agencies, thats quite a lot.

@Yuki

Of course. Such as I saw this one japanese game where you drive an ambulance in a a zombie infested city rescuing survivors, and you could use the cash form rescues to beef up your ambulance with spinning blades and such.

American gamers would LOVE that idea.

@Kurisu,

I've seen that, Zombies versus Ambulance or something like that. I think a GTA style zombie game would be better (Dead Rising didn't do it right)

@Sean

Agreed. A big open city with a central place to save and rest and take survivors, sounds like a win to me.

Yuki wrote:
"don’t I as a consumer have the right to purchase and play games legally from any country I want without having to hack my own console to play them?"

No, you don't have a "right" to do that. It'd be nice if you had the "opportunity," but the game industry in not obligated to do anything for you. They provide a product and sell it. Systems they've sold in one region don't work with games from another region. Consumers know this when they purchase the products. If you buy the systems anyway, then it's your own problem. The game industry has no moral or legal requirement to make sure every game works on every system.

And it's not a legal issue. You're free to hack your system if you want. It's your property. Just be aware that you void the warranty when you do.


Yuki wrote:
"And if no, why isn’t it required that EVERY game, regardless of where it’s made, be released with english language subtitles and menus and then released locally in the USA instead of forcing people to import and then bypass region lockouts on there system to play it."

They're not forcing you to do anything. It's your choice to import those games. And just as they are not obligated to readily provide you with every single game made, they are not obligated to translate them, either. They made a product, they offered it to the public, and whether the public buys it or not is just business. And as business, they (the producers) have the "right" to chose what to do with thier product. That includes what languages it is portrayed in, and what locations it is sold.


Yuri wrote:
"the 3rd naruto game is coming out in the USA in about a week. I have had it for over 6 months now. I shouldn’t have had to import it."

That your own damn fault. Don't blame the industry for you jumping the gun. You made a choice, no reason to feel annoyed with anyone but yourself.


---------------------------------
I'd like to point out, in general, that I would love it if every game was sold globally and in every language. But I do realize that companies have the right to make financial decisions on thier own. Fact is, a lot of games in Japan just would not sell enough in the US to justify the cost (like the dating sims, very small market here). Hell, a lot of Western computer game developers won't bother with Japanese translations or marketing, because computer games don't sell very well there.

---------------------------------
On the actual subject of the article, I am pleased that their crackdown went well. While I know that in poorer nations games are too expensive for most people to buy them legitimately, I don't find that an excuse for piracy. I also find it abhorent for people to make money off of other people's efforts. Sadly, this recent action will likely only have a temporary effect, and new bootleggers will be in business before long.

@Are'el -

I think what Yuki meant was that the industries attitude in this regard has acted as a catalyst for piracy.

While you are 100% correct that they have no legal obligation, if they made more of an effort to make sure that we could buy the game when we wanted them and play them on our consoles without modifying them, then maybe people wouldn't have put so much effort into getting the consoles modified in the first place?

I agree, I also think that the industry (and human nature) is largely to blame for this problem.

That said, yay for catching some real bootleggers and not arresting some 12 yr olds for downloading games off the net :D

I still think that the law should be:
Making profit off someone elses IP = illegal
Downloading for free and playing/viewing/listening to someone else IP = free advertising

heh...

"Mexican law enforcement authorities recently staged a crackdown on video game bootlegging operations in Mexico City."

Staged would be right... legend has it that they tell the sellers in advance that there's going to be a raid so they have there a small part of what they would usually have for publicity...

However I could (and I hope I am) be wrong...

And it’s not a legal issue. You’re free to hack your system if you want. It’s your property. Just be aware that you void the warranty when you do.

Yes it is a legal issue. One of the things they've targeted in the past is modchips, including those that break region lockouts. Region lockouts are what Yuki's criticizing. It's not a matter of standards for TV are incompatable, or other technical issues that would prevent games from one area being playable in another. It's a matter of companies specifically trying to prevent people from importing. In the US at least, if you modify your hardware to break the region lockouts, you don't simply void the warranty, you also (in most cases) run afoul of the DMCA (aka break the law).

Thus Yuki's argument that the industry's attempts at pricing controls via region encoding has encouraged piracy. If you've got to break the copy protection simply to play something you've legally imported, it's going to encourage piracy, as the import market will help fuel supply of means to pirate. If the industry didn't punish people who imported, there'd be much less incentive to create mod chips, and so forth.

I think of it this way. There isn't one Playstation 3 (or any other console) with different regional codes. Instead, there are several different Playstation 3's, each one that has a different library of games. If you buy a game not intended for your PS3, then you are expecting more than what the publishers intended. Yes, you've legally bought and imported a game. BUT, since it was never intended for your PS3, you shouldn't expect it to work on it. You're dealing with TWO products here. One is the console, which should play games made for it. The other is the game, which should play on consoles it was made for. But some games are not made for US PS3s, even if they were made for JP PS3s. If you are really a serious importer, and you don't like hacking or breaking the law, then buy a console intended for that region. Yes, that's expensive, but it's still an option. Don't complain about being "forced" to hack, when you're really just going the cheaper route.

Technically, it's illegal to "distribute" the means to hack a console (as in, selling modchips, or some other means). An individual may modify thier property on their own in any way that they please.

Also, saying that regional coding encourages piracy is no different than saying, "selling it at $40 encourages piracy," or "The movie isn't out on DVD yet, so it encourages bootlegs." It doesn't matter what encourages it, breaking the law is breaking the law.

All that being said, I don't think regional coding is necessary, or even a good idea. And I wish all games were available to everyone. But in Yuki's many posts, I sensed an underlying degree of... entitlement (for lack of better word). All games should have english subtitles and menus? It's annoying that they bought an import 6 months ago and now it's coming out here now? That's why I felt like responding, and I appologize if I went too far.

------------------------
Of course, the main article had nothing to do with linking regional codes to piracy. It was just about bootlegging. And the primary reason for bootlegging is, "cheaper games that could be bought legitimately." Yuki just used the article as a jumping point to rant on a entirely different issue.

They think they could hand over one of the Ace Combat 6 covers thats NOT in French?

I'm actually on the opposite side of the fence here, when it comes to these police breaking up this piracy ring. Many people in Mexico are too poor to be able to afford the luxury of buying video games for their MSRP. That said, I don't see how the "big three" are really missing out on the profits there, because regardless you're going to see poor game sales in Mexico. Not only that, but you're also stomping the bejesus out of someone else's fun. I'm always fascinated with how damnable I find the association of video games with big business. I just think this is all the result of money grubbing, greedy suits, most of them I guarantee you probably haven't even ever picked up a video game.

So basically, I feel that the bootleggers weren't really hurting the game industry because sales aren't going to be any different in that area, and that the police, following the influence of big business, shut down a group of people who were providing a cheap form of recreation for a financially unfortunate region. I'm just a bit surprised to see so many of the same comments, cheering on the police here. I mean some of the underlying themes here are the ones responsible for passing the horrid DMCA. Think about that.

Going for those that make a profit is a great way to combat piracy...

I am glad to hear the ESA is having success with that...

Now just make sure to leave those who download for private use alone...

Take down all the uploaders you want...
Just don't become the RIAA... I have switched to less known bands simply to avoid buying any and all music produced by the RIAA mobsters...

@ StopUploaders

MC Chris stopped selling all his CD's, the only way to buy them is at his concerts, in fact he even promoted people pirating them.

@Robe:

Yes, it's unfortunate that parts of the world are poor. That doesn't excuse people making money off of other people's work and creativity.

I like to think that I have a fairly laid-back attitude to copyright enforcement for someone working in a "content" industry (music, not games, though), but I have absolutely zero sympathy for those who sell bootlegged games (and music, of course). I also strongly doubt that they do so for idealistic reasons.

Are'el

Do you believe in free trade or not? Although even if, it's a product he can only get from Japan, that's not illegal to posess or sell in the USA. Why then can he not buy it? Now if someone were to deliver it to him for a price could he not take advantage of that system?

Although that aside it still doesn't make much business sense. If you got rid of region locks on all consoles you would have more imported games, guaranteed.

@ Are'el

Regional lock outs is what has people pissed, not the "My 360 game won't work in the PS3."

For sake of arguement, lets say Amp t3h Bawls (yes I stole 2 energy drink names for the product) was only released in the UK, well I'm in the US can't be bought here. Now let's say the ESA locked it out of my Box o' Junk. Things like that irratate people.

@konrad_arflane

Yes, I will agree that it is highly improbable that the said bootleggers were doing their services for idealistic purposes. However, my sympathy still remains with the financially unfortunate individuals who had an alternative to the expensive price of games. I just highly doubt that the ESA is losing out on a lot of profit there. If anything they're making more money from the bootleggers buying the original copy of the game to make copies of =P.

I tend to hold video games in a high reverence, and I believe that they tend to transcend mere price tags. So my position is deeply influenced by my sympathy for those with financial misfortune, and the fact that I believe that every one should experience the wonderfulness that is video games.

I do believe that all your points are rightfully valid though.
 
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